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Game Preview - Rescue Mission - Leafs @ Blues

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The Leafs look to salvage something after a pointless California road trip

Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

NHL.com Preview

Time and TV Coverage

Time: 7:00 PM EDT

TV: NHLN-US, CBC, FS-MW

State of the Team

After a California road trip that saw the Leafs go pointless, losing 3 relatively close games, there's a division among the Leafs fanbase (moreso than usual). To many, this struggle coinciding with firing Randy Carlyle and appointing Peter Horachek is the proof they need that Carlyle was doing his best with a poor group of players. To others, the slide is a combination of poor puck luck, a tough schedule, and the fact that the Leafs are a relatively mediocre team, even if coached optimally.

That said, there are definitely signs of better things to come. Shots against are down by about 10 a game (!!!!!) with Horachek behind the bench. Morgan Rielly is continuing his growth into a player you'd be happy to build your defence corps around. And despite the poor run of results, the overall team play is much better than in most stages of the Carlyle era. In many ways, these losses might help cement the Leafs as sellers during the trade deadline, and get them a few extra ping pong balls in the McDavid sweepstakes.

So with that preamble aside, the Leafs now head to the home of another Western Conference contender, this time the St. Louis Blues. Will they manage to turn around the road trip with a statement win? Or fall to another team that's flat out better than they are.

Key Stats (All 5v5)

Team Corsi% GF GA Points
Toronto 45.0 138 139 47
St. Louis 51.0 142 110 58

Overview of the Blues

St. Louis has a mediocre-for-them CF% ranking of 17th, but are in the top 5 in the league in PDO. Despite their relatively poor underlying stats, they're currently in a playoff spot in the brutal Central division. Their strength lies in their insane depth up front. TJ Oshie might not even be the 6th best forward on this team. Between Tarasenko, Backes, Berglund, Steen, Stastny, Schwartz, and Oshie, they have forward depth few can match. On the back end, they also have a fantastic pairing of Bouwmeester and Pietrangelo, with Kevin Shattenkirk anchoring the 2nd pairing. Brian Elliott is in goal, and has had an impressive season thus far.

Projected Lines:

Leafs

Forwards

van Riemsdyk - Bozak - Kessel

Winnik - Kadri - Santorelli

Panik - Smith - Clarkson (2/3 of this line aren't even NHLers)

Frattin - Carrick - Bodie

Defence

Phaneuf Franson

Rielly - Polak (Jesus Christ, unshackle Morgan)

Gardiner - Holzer (Jesus Christ, stop chaining Gardiner to this inanimate carbon rod)

Blues

Forwards

Steen - Backes - Oshie

Schwartz - Lehtera - Tarasenko

Berglund - Stastny - Lindstrom (seriously, this is their 3rd line)

Ott - Lapierre - Reeves

Defence

Bouwmeester - Pietrangelo

Gunnarsson - Shattenkirk

Jackman - Cole

Bernier vs Elliott in goal.