Photo credit:John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Maple Leafs host red-hot Canucks as they look to win back-to-back games
By Joseph Zita3 months ago
It was a much-needed two points in the standings for the Toronto Maple Leafs with their crazy 5-4 shootout win over the Calgary Flames last night after surrendering a 4-1 lead at one point. However, they don’t ask how they ask how many, and Toronto scored more goals than Calgary did.
Tonight, they have one of their most difficult tasks of the early season. They welcome another Canadian team into Toronto, but this one has a record of 10-2-1 and has been playing great hockey to start the season. The Canucks have been better than a lot had expected, and you got to give them credit.
Maple Leafs’ lineup:
Last night was the first time all season that one of Brad Treliving’s notable off-season additions was scratched, as John Klingberg sat out last night’s game. Sheldon Keefe referred to it as “working through some things”. So, whether he was scratched for performance issues or injury, the Maple Leafs had one of their better games all season defensively with the limited chances they gave up despite still allowing four goals.
For tonight, Klingberg has been confirmed to return to the lineup, with Simon Benoit taking a seat. The Toronto Maple Leafs PR account also announced earlier this morning that the club had called Bobby McMann up from the Marlies and sent down Pontus Holmberg.
This move left writing on the wall that Ryan Reaves was headed to being a potential healthy scratch tonight, and that’s what is happening. Sheldon Keefe confirmed to the media that McMann was coming in for Reaves and Klingberg was coming in for Benoit.
With these two changes in the lineup, you may be wondering what the lineup will look like tonight against the 10-2-1 Canucks, well, not that different.
The lineup will look the same as the previous three games, with McMann slotting in as the fourth-line right winger and John Klingberg on the third pair alongside William Lagesson. Ilya Samsonov is also the projected starter in the second half of the back-to-back after Joseph Woll played last night.
Toronto has a difficult task at hand tonight. It’s no secret. The Canucks have been playing good hockey to begin the season, and they’ve been getting great production from their top guys, similar to the Maple Leafs. With a record of 10-2-1 and sitting pretty in third place in the NHL, the Canucks have been getting the job done on both ends of the ice.
They are first in the NHL in scoring, with 59 goals (4.54 goals per game) and second in the NHL in goals against, with 26 (2.0 goals against per game). They’re also getting great goaltending from their netminders, Thatcher Demko and Casey DeSmith.
According to Thomas Drance, these were the Canucks’ lineup in their previous game against the Senators, and we could expect a pretty similar-looking lineup.
However, instead of DeSmith between the pipes, head coach Rick Tocchet has confirmed that Thatcher Demko will be getting the start tonight.
Players to watch:
There are a couple of players who have my attention in tonight’s game, but no one bigger than Toronto’s starting goalie, Ilya Samsonov. It’s been a bad start to his season, everyone knows that, but a start against one of, if not the best offence in the NHL will be a good test for the 26-year-old.
He has allowed a bunch of soft goals this season, but it has also been because the defensive structure breaks down in front of him at times, so the blue line will also be a focus point for me tonight against this Canucks team.
Bobby McMann, who got called up to the NHL earlier this morning, will be making his season debut and will have the attention of not only myself, but a bunch of others watching the game. If he plays great, there should be a legitimate case for continuing to play him over Ryan Reaves. Toronto’s fourth line has not looked good, and a big reason as to why has been the play of Reaves.
You can catch the Maple Leafs and Canucks tonight in action on Sportsnet. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 pm ET/4:00 pm PT.
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