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Photo Credit: © Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Auston Matthews returns as the Toronto Maple Leafs play an American team for the first time in over a year

For the first time since August 2020, the Toronto Maple Leafs are set to play an American NHL team and they have their own star American returning to the lineup to celebrate the occasion. With Marner and Tavares being snakebitten through the team’s first three games of the season, failing to find the back of the net despite creating plenty of great scoring opportunities, the NHL’s reigning Rocket Richard trophy winner is arriving at the perfect time.

Despite the team’s first line struggling to score, the Maple Leafs still hold a 2-1 record thanks in part to Jack Campbell’s phenomenal netminding and some fantastic contributions from lower in the lineup. If players like William Nylander, Michael Bunting, Alex Kerfoot, and Jason Spezza can continue their hot start as Matthews looks to defend his goalscoring title, this Leafs team could get exceptionally dangerous very quickly with scoring threats on all four lines.

Their opponents tonight are none other than the New York Rangers, a team that Toronto recently usurped as the NHL’s most valuable franchise. After a shaky start to the season, the Rangers were able to grab their first win on Saturday in a 3-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens. Reigning Norris Trophy winner Adam Fox has continued to look dominant for New York early in the season with three points in three games and his team generating 61.5% of all shot attempts while he’s on the ice despite more defensive zone starts than offensive. Whether Adam Fox and co. will be able to shutdown the return of Matthews, which moves John Tavares to the second line, gives Mitch Marner his favourite target back, and makes the whole offense exponentially scarier will be the question of the game.

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Through three contests so far, the Maple Leafs have had moments of excellence but have rarely looked truly dominant. Today’s matchup will be an opportunity to show that they’re a real threat and contend against teams outside of the often-mocked Canadian division.

Projected Lineups

DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS
Morgan Rielly
MORGAN RIELLY
T.J. Brodie
T.J. BRODIE
Rasmus Sandin
RASMUS SANDIN
Travis Dermott
TRAVIS DERMOTT
Jake Muzzin
JAKE MUZZIN
Timothy Liljegren
TIMOTHY LILJEGREN

 

DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS
Ryan Lindgren
RYAN LINDGREN
Adam Fox
ADAM FOX
K'Andre Miller
K’ANDRE MILLER
Jacob Trouba
JACOB TROUBA
Patrik Nemeth
PATRIK NEMETH
Nils Lundkvist
NILS LUNDKVIST

Projected Starting Goaltenders:

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Jack Campbell is expected to get the nod for Maple Leafs once again, hoping to continue his hot start after allowing only two goals through seven periods of play. For the New York Rangers, Igor Shesterkin is expected to get the call, off to a hot start of his own with a .931 save percentage through his first two games of the season. Both teams have a ton of firepower and a hot goalie in net so this is the kind of game where even the most belligerent gamblers would be wise to avoid the over/under line. These teams are capable of any result from 1-0 to 7-5, which is all anyone can ask for from a Monday night matchup between the NHL’s two most valuable franchises.

Where to tune in:

The game is scheduled for a 7pm start on Sportsnet.

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