Maple Leafs look to get back in win column as they begin five game road trip against Panthers
Photo credit:Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
By Joseph Zita1 month ago
The Toronto Maple Leafs weren’t going to go 82-0-0 this season, but after losing to the Blackhawks on Monday night, it’s a reminder this team is far from perfect as they continue to struggle with their play away from the puck.
After picking up crazy wins against Montreal and Minnesota to start the season, they ran into a hot goalie to start the year in Arvid Soderblom and not only could Toronto not find the back of the net more than once, but they allowed four goals or more in three consecutive games.
Tonight, they look to turn the page as they begin a five-game road trip and try to get back in the win column against a divisional rival who ended their season last year in the playoffs.
Maple Leafs’ lineup:
There was one change to Monday’s lineup when they played Chicago, and it was swapping Calle Jarnkrok and Max Domi. This time, he’s making one more change ahead of tonight’s game against the Florida Panthers.
According to David Alter of The Hockey News, these were the lines at practice yesterday morning:
As seen above, Sheldon Keefe and the coaching staff have elected to put Calle Jarnkrok back in the bottom six. Instead of putting Max Domi back on the second line alongside John Tavares and William Nylander, they’ve put Matthew Knies there as they hope to get the 21-year-old going.
Keefe also confirmed to the media post-practice that Ilya Samsonov will be back in the net after Joseph Woll started Monday night against the Blackhawks.
Samsonov hasn’t looked like his 2022-23 self so far, but it is only two games into his season, and seeing what he was able to do for this team last season, if we could get the same performance or at least close to it, that would be massive for this team given how poorly they’ve looked defensively to start the year.
The projected lineup tonight for the Florida Panthers is seen below:
According to Jameson Olive, these were the forward lines at yesterday’s practice.
Newly signed Evan Rodrigues is projected on the top line alongside Alex Barkov and Sam Reinhart, with 2023 Hart Trophy finalist Matthew Tkachuk on the second line with former Marlie Carter Verhaeghe and Eetu Luostarinen.
Forward Sam Bennett has not yet played in a game this season due to a lower-body injury and will not play tonight against Toronto.
Paul Maurice also confirmed to the media that Sergei Bobrovsky will get the start tonight against Toronto.
Players to watch:
Like I’ve said in almost every pregame article so far, it’s been a weird start to the season, and with all the new players in Toronto, they are usually the players you want to watch the most to see how they fit in with their new team.
Some newcomers have looked good, some have looked alright, and some have looked meh.
However, I’ll be watching that second line with Matthew Knies getting a bump in the lineup. We got a glimpse of what Knies, Matthews and Marner looked like last year in the playoffs, and now it’s time to see what he can do alongside Tavares and Nylander.
John Klingberg was brought to Toronto for a couple of things: his offensive ability, power-play minutes, and his skating.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise how bad he has looked in his end to start the season because this is what Toronto signed up for when they signed him to that one-year deal in free agency. However, he has been bumped down to the third pair to play alongside Mark Giordano, and I think it may be best for the team and player.
He’ll still get his power-play minutes, but if bumping him down to the third pair means fewer five-on-five minutes every night, it might just work.
Another player I’ve been saying for a while that I will be keeping an eye on is Max Domi. I feel like a broken record when I say this, but although he hasn’t looked the greatest, I don’t think he has looked terrible either. Just off the eye test, he has looked meh at times and has had his moments where he’s looked good, but it’s not consistent.
With another new-look third line of Jarnkrok-Minten-Domi, could this be the game where he looks more like the Max Domi from last season?
You can catch the Maple Leafs and Panthers in action tonight on TSN4 at 7:00 pm ET/4:00 pm PT.
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