Photo credit:Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Maple Leafs looking to go undefeated in Sweden
By Joseph Zita3 months ago
The Toronto Maple Leafs began their 2023 NHL Global Series by picking up a 3-2 come-from-behind victory over one of their division rivals, the Detroit Red Wings. It wasn’t a pretty game by any means, but after the Maple Leafs found their feet and started generating chances, they mounted another third-period comeback.
Tomorrow, they take on the Minnesota Wild, who dropped today’s game to the Ottawa Senators 2-1 in a shootout. And similar to Detroit, Toronto will be playing the Wild in the second half of a back-to-back. Advantage Maple Leafs? We shall see.
Maple Leafs’ lineup:
Sheldon Keefe elected to go with the same lineup against the Red Wings that won his team three of their previous four games before heading to Sweden. Tomorrow, Toronto will go with the same lineup as they look to complete the 2023 Global Series with a sweep before heading home to Toronto.
According to David Alter of The Hockey News, these were the lines at Maple Leafs practice yesterday. The forward lines and defence pairings remain the same. However, John Klingberg was seen on the ice practicing with the team but departed after 10 minutes.
With the same lineup projected for the game against the Wild, we can expect Joseph Woll to get the nod after Ilya Samsonov started against the Red Wings on Friday.
Given the Wild will be playing in back-to-back games with no practice in between, these were their lines for their game against Ottawa, and we could expect something similar to them against Toronto tomorrow. Wild forward Ryan Hartman didn’t suit up against the Senators, and that’s why Nic Petan was in the lineup.
If Hartman is good to go against Toronto, there is a chance Petan comes out for him, and Marc-Andre Fleury will be the projected starter for Minnesota, with Filip Gustavsson getting the start today.
These two teams have already played each other this season. It was a crazy 7-4 win for Toronto on home ice in their second game, and since then, the Wild have not been the same team from last season. They’ve struggled mightily this year, and their recent loss to the Senators makes it four straight losses for Minnesota.
Although they’ve been struggling to get wins and currently sit 6th in the Central division with a record of 5-8-3, Toronto can’t take them lightly at all. They’re going to be desperate for a win. They need the points in the standings just as much as Toronto does.
Players to watch:
In my pregame article for the Maple Leafs and Red Wings game, I wrote that the Swedes on the Maple Leafs would have my attention, especially Nylander, and, as we know, he did not disappoint one bit. A three-point effort that helped propel his team to a 3-2 victory highlighted the night, especially with his entire family there.
For tomorrow, the second line of Bertuzzi, Tavares and Nylander will have my attention, and deservedly so. They combined for eight points against the Red Wings, and although I’m not predicting them to explode like that again against Minnesota, that line has looked better and better ever since Keefe put them together.
The top line of Knies, Matthews and Marner have been getting their looks on occasion, but they have not been as good as of late. They have just two combined points between the three of them over the team’s last four games, and if it wasn’t for the heater that the second line is on, along with the emergence of the new-look third line, Toronto would be in trouble. I’m looking at them to get back on track against Minnesota and steal the show, just like the Tavares line did against Detroit.
You can catch the Maple Leafs and Wild this morning in action on Sportsnet. Puck drop is scheduled for 8:00 am ET/5:00 am PT.
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