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Toronto Maple Leafs host the lowly Buffalo Sabres

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One team is making a push for a generational talent and the other is middling along in an extended and unnecessary evaluation period that is draining away the life force of their elite talent while relegating them to the mushy middle of the standings. IT'S MAPLE LEAFS GAME NIGHT!

Peter Llewellyn-USA TODAY Sports

Three Questions

  1. How long will Carlyle stick with the new lines? You can see below that Randy Carlyle has hit the blender in a meaningful way by shifting Tyler Bozak and JVR off of the first line and replacing them with Lupul and Kadri. Randy has almost never had Bozak away from Kessel when both have been healthy and if the new trio doesn't produce immediately, I'd be surprised if they get much time.
  2. Will Bernier bounce back? Bernier wasn't the strongest on Saturday night and has been largely human this year. I think we all recognize that Reimer wouldn't get an immediate chance to bounce back but it's important for both goalies to be firing on all cylinders if this season isn't going to go down the drain before we hit fake Thanksgiving.
  3. Will the Leafs "compete"? The biggest problem with the Maple Leafs this year is apparently that they do not demonstrate the only key to success that their coach can name. The coach isn't responsible for getting them to compete, the GM isn't responsible for getting players that don't compete, and the players are the only ones in control. So will they decide to bring it for the home crowd against a cupcake opponent?

Projected lines:

Toronto

Joffrey Lupul - Nazem Kadri - Phil Kessel
James Van Riemsdyk - Tyler Bozak - David Clarkson
Leo Komarov - Mike Santorelli - Daniel Winnik
Carter Ashton - Peter Holland - Matt Frattin

Defence
Dion Phaneuf - Cody Franson
Morgan Rielly - Roman Polak
Jake Gardiner - Stephane Robidas

Goalies
Jonathan Bernier
James Reimer

Buffalo

Courtesy of our friends at Die By The Blade

Moulson - Ennis - Stewart
Foligno - Girgensons - Gionta
Hodgson - Mitchell - Stafford
Deslauriers - Reinhart - McCormick

Gorges - Myers
Weber - Meszaros
Benoit - Ristolainen

Goal: Michal Neuvirth