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Photo Credit: Nick Barden

Matthews out as Leafs look to keep lead on second place Oilers

For the second time this season, the Leafs will be without Auston Matthews against Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers as both teams square off in this three game series. The first time this happened, the Leafs found themselves on the winning side with a 4-2 win, but will they be able to repeat that success again?

It isn’t all bad news on the injury front for the Leafs, as they will see Joe Thornton and Jake Muzzin return after missing the last two games, and Jack Campbell will make his first start in over a month after dealing with a Tkachuk-related injury. Having the NHL leading goal scorer out and not being able to match up against the NHL leading point scorer will hurt, but the roster is a bit more well rounded in other areas at the very least.

The Leafs come into tonight’s game after splitting a two game series with the Calgary Flames. They struggled to beat David Rittich in a 3-0 loss in the first game, and those struggles continued until the dying minutes of the second game, as William Nylander got the game tying goal with just minutes to spare, and then won it in overtime as well.

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The Oilers come into tonight’s game riding a 5 game win streak, with a win over the Jets and two against the Flames and the Canucks, helping their way to their current second place spot in the North division. They have a lot of the media hype now as people continue to be too afraid to admit the Leafs are good, and instead opt to go for the team that just beat up on the Vancouver Canucks.

Lineups

Toronto Maple Leafs

LW C RW Forwards
Joe Thornton
JOE THORNTON

Rating: 72.3#74 LW

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John Tavares
JOHN TAVARES

Rating: 77.6#15 C

Mitch Marner
MITCH MARNER

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Rating: 76.6#18 RW

FL1 Rating
Rating: 75.48#12 FL1
Alexander Barabanov
ALEXANDER BARABANOV
Alexander Kerfoot
ALEXANDER KERFOOT

Rating: 70.8#113 C

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William Nylander
WILLIAM NYLANDER

Rating: 76.1#23 RW

FL2 Rating
Rating: 73.46#15 FL2
Zach Hyman
ZACH HYMAN

Rating: 74.6#33 LW

Pierre Engvall
PIERRE ENGVALL

Rating: 71.0#98 C

Ilya Mikheyev
ILYA MIKHEYEV

Rating: 74.0#42 RW

FL3 Rating
Rating: 73.20#7 FL3
Nic Petan
NIC PETAN
Travis Boyd
TRAVIS BOYD

Rating: 70.4#124 C

Jason Spezza
JASON SPEZZA

Rating: 69.4#126 RW

FL4 Rating
Rating: 70.03#23 FL4
DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS Defense
Morgan Rielly
MORGAN RIELLY

Rating: 75.3#14 LD

T.J. Brodie
T.J. BRODIE

Rating: 74.2#27 RD

DL1 Rating
Rating: 74.76#17 DL1
Jake Muzzin
JAKE MUZZIN

Rating: 75.1#17 LD

Justin Holl
JUSTIN HOLL

Rating: 72.0#61 RD

DL2 Rating
Rating: 73.56#12 DL2
Travis Dermott
TRAVIS DERMOTT

Rating: 71.7#83 LD

Zach Bogosian
ZACH BOGOSIAN

Rating: 71.4#76 RD

DL3 Rating
Rating: 71.56#22 DL3

John Tavares finds himself on the top line with Mitch Marner and Thornton out of the lineup, while we see a repeat of the Barabonov-Kerfoot-Nylander that had some success against the Flames on Monday. Mikko Lehtonen finds himself out of the lineup again as Muzzin returns to the lineup.

Edmonton Oilers

LW C RW Forwards
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
RYAN NUGENT-HOPKINS

Rating: 77.4#11 LW

Connor McDavid
CONNOR MCDAVID

Rating: 82.7#5 C

Jesse Puljujarvi
JESSE PULJUJARVI
FL1 Rating
Rating: 76.37#7 FL1
Dominik Kahun
DOMINIK KAHUN

Rating: 72.5#69 LW

Leon Draisaitl
LEON DRAISAITL

Rating: 86.1#1 C

Kailer Yamamoto
KAILER YAMAMOTO

Rating: 73.5#47 RW

FL2 Rating
Rating: 77.36#1 FL2
Tyler Ennis
TYLER ENNIS

Rating: 71.4#90 LW

Jujhar Khaira
JUJHAR KHAIRA

Rating: 69.1#152 C

Josh Archibald
JOSH ARCHIBALD

Rating: 71.2#95 RW

FL3 Rating
Rating: 70.59#24 FL3
Ethan Bear
ETHAN BEAR

Rating: 71.8#66 LW

Gaetan Haas
GAETAN HAAS

Rating: 69.6#139 C

Alex Chiasson
ALEX CHIASSON

Rating: 72.2#76 RW

FL4 Rating
Rating: 71.23#12 FL4
DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS Defense
Darnell Nurse
DARNELL NURSE

Rating: 74.1#30 LD

Tyson Barrie
TYSON BARRIE

Rating: 75.3#21 RD

DL1 Rating
Rating: 74.69#18 DL1
Kris Russell
KRIS RUSSELL

Rating: 70.1#115 LD

Adam Larsson
ADAM LARSSON

Rating: 71.1#88 RD

DL2 Rating
Rating: 70.61#30 DL2
Caleb Jones
CALEB JONES

Rating: 71.0#14 LD

Evan Bouchard
EVAN BOUCHARD
DL3 Rating
Rating: 71.77#15 DL3

Leafs Player to Watch: John Tavares

It was William Nylander’s turn to break out of him slump on Wednesday, now it’s John Tavares turn tonight. He’ll be expected to step up tonight with Matthews out of the lineup, especially against Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, so hopefully we can see a big performance from him.

Oilers Player to Watch: Connor McDavid

It feels like cheating to put McDavid here, but he torched the Leafs last time with two goals and an assist, one of them being a gorgeous end-to-end rush that saw him juke out the whole team. With Matthews out, it’ll make his job slightly easier, so let’s see what magic he can pull off tonight.

Leafs Starting Goalie: Jack Campbell

After missing the last month, Campbell will finally return to the crease to provide some much needed relief to Leafs fans’ anxiety, as Michael Hutchinson started three of the last four games (although he played quite well). It will be Campbell’s third start of the season, and first against the Oilers, as he currently has a 2-0 record with a .923 save percentage.

Oilers Starting Goalie: Mike Smith

Smith has surprised many with his strong start to the season, so he’ll get the start for the Oilers tonight. He’s 6-0 to start the season with a .944 save percentage and two shutouts. Like Campbell, Smith will also be facing his opponent tonight for the first time this season.

Puck drop is scheduled for 7pm EST, and you can catch the game on Sportsnet and CBC.