The undefeated Maple Leafs welcome the Connor Bedard show to town
Photo credit:Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
By Joseph Zita1 month ago
It’s been a crazy first two games to begin the season for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Between big hits, big fights and tons of goals being scored, the Maple Leafs are still waiting for their best effort on the ice after allowing four goals or more for the second consecutive game this season.
Tonight, they’re up against a rebuilding Chicago Blackhawks team headlined by recent number-one overall pick Connor Bedard.
Although I just called them a rebuilding team, and it is true, they have some talented players on that squad that could give teams a hard time. After all, they did defeat Kyle Dubas and the Pittsburgh Penguins on opening night.
Maple Leafs’ lineup:
The Toronto Maple Leafs will be going with the same lineup as the first two games but with a tiny change on two lines.
According to David Alter of the Hockey News, these were the lines at practice yesterday:
As seen above, Calle Jarnkrok and Max Domi have switched spots in practice and will be projected to play on different lines tonight after Sheldon Keefe swapped them during the last game against the Minnesota Wild. Jarnkrok will now be playing second-line left wing alongside John Tavares and William Nylander, with Max Domi sliding down and playing third-line right wing alongside youngsters Matthew Knies and Fraser Minten.
Another change in the lineup is tonight’s starter.
Sheldon Keefe confirmed to media yesterday that Joseph Woll will make his season debut tonight and start against the Blackhawks after Ilya Samsonov got the first two starts of the year.
The projected lineup for the Chicago Blackhawks tonight is shown in a post from Charlie Roumeliotis of NBCS Chicago.
After leaving with an apparent injury in their second game of the season, it looks like forward Taylor Hall will be back in the lineup tonight back on the top line alongside Connor Bedard and Ryan Donato.
There are also a couple of former Maple Leafs playing tonight. Nick Foligno, Petr Mrazek, and maybe Nikita Zaitsev (given the lines at practice) will all be back in Toronto tonight.
Players to watch:
There are a couple of players I’ll have my eye on tonight and Auston Matthews is one of them, and I mean, how can he not be? Six goals in six periods to start a season. Back-to-back hat-tricks. 54 goals away from his second 60-goal season. I don’t know if he’ll record a third straight hat trick tonight to begin the season because that’s extremely hard, but with how dominant he has been so far, I expect him to continue to pour on the chances against a weak Blackhawks defence.
Another player to watch tonight is former Blackhawk Max Domi. His start as a Maple Leaf has been a little up and down. Just off the eye test, I don’t think he’s been abysmal, but he could be better. Tonight, he’s going up against his former team, and maybe this is the game where we could see him pot home his first as a Maple Leaf.
The last player to watch tonight is goalie Joseph Woll, who will be getting his first start of the season. Woll, who started to come on last season starting in seven regular season games, posted a record of 6-1-0 with a 2.16 GAA and a .932 SV% and also experienced playoff hockey as he played in four games due to the injury of Samsonov, putting up a 2.43 GAA and a .915 SV%. The 25-year-old is proving that he is a part of the goalie future here in Toronto and is ready to take on a bigger role this season.
You can catch the Maple Leafs and Blackhawks in action tonight on Sportsnet at 7:00 pm ET/4:00 pm PT.
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