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Toronto Maple Leafs @ Columbus Blue Jackets Game Preview: First win?

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In the time it took me to write this sentence, David Clarkson fell down three times.

Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

Toronto Maple Leafs @ Columbus Blue Jackets

Nationwide Arena; Columbus, Ohio

7:00 p.m. ET; TSN4 ("THE QUATTRO!")

OPPOSING SBN PERSPECTIVE: The Cannon

WHERE IS THE GAME? In Columbus.

The Matchup

The Leafs have had a rough 0-2-1 start to the season, but the Columbus Blue Jackets are here to remind you that it could be a lot worse. Everyone and their dog expected the Leafs to suck this season, so all they've really done is deliver on that promise.

Columbus, on the other hand, had high hopes going into the season. The blockbuster acquisition of Brandon Saad was expected to be a key addition to the NHL's 13th ranked offense which already contained a solid young forward in Ryan Johansen and breakout season from Nick Foligno. Add to that a dependable goaltender in Sergei Bobrovsky and bad injury luck being a major culprit for failures last season, and many experts predicted this team to make the postseason, if not finish near the top of the Metropolitan Division.

It is only four games into the season, but early returns have been disappointing. The Blue Jackets are 0-4-0, allowing 20 goals while scoring just 9. Bobrovsky has posted a dismal .830 SV%, and from the sounds of it, things aren't going so hot:

The Blue Jackets have confirmed that Bobrovsky will start. James Reimer (0-0-1, .891) gets the start for the Leafs.

But the big news of the game: the Leafs may play against a familiar face in Blue Jackets forward David Clarkson.

Wait, that just felt too dang good. Let me write that again.

Blue Jackets forward David Clarkson.

....okay; just one more time.

[climbs to the top of a mountain with a megaphone]

BLUE JACKETS FORWARD DAVID CLARKSON.

As in, he plays for Columbus now. And not the Leafs. Because Columbus is paying his exorbitant salary.

God bless you, Jarmo Kekalainen.

Opposing Side Twitter Follow(s)

This is an ongoing feature I'll be doing with my game previews throughout the season to better connect Leaf fans who may want to tune in on the opposing perspective.

Unfortunately, I don't have too many recommendations for Blue Jackets fans, but beat reporter Aaron Portzline is one of the best out there. You can follow him at @Aportzline.

Expected Leafs Lineup:

Few changes from Saturday's lineup, but Shawn Matthias is expected to draw back in after being sidelined with a shoulder injury last Saturday. Per Mark Masters, he is on the Kadri line, while Michael Grabner appears to be the odd man out. Meanwhile, Scott Harrington is expected to replace Martin Marincin. (UPDATE: it appears Grabner is in, and Mark Arcobello will be the odd man out).

van Riemsdyk - Bozak - Komarov

Matthias - Kadri - Boyes

Lupul - Spaling - Winnik

Grabner - Holland - Parenteau

Gardiner - Phaneuf

Rielly - Hunwick

Harrington - Polak

Reimer

Expected Columbus Lineup:

Per Aaron Portzline, here were the lines at Blue Jackets practice on Thursday.

Brandon Saad - Ryan Johansen - Nick Foligno

Boone Jenner - Brandon Dubinsky - Rene Bourque

Scott Hartnell - Alexander Wennberg - Cam Atkinson

William Karlsson - Gregory Campbell - David Clarkson

Jack Johnson - David Savard

Fedor Tyutin - Dalton Prout

Ryan Murray - Cody Goloubef OR Kevin Connauton

Sergei Bobrovsky

Key to the Game

Columbus has been extremely top heavy thus far. If the Leafs can shut down that top line, the Blue Jackets should struggle to generate offense. This is particularly important since, y'know, scoring isn't exactly something that has come easy to the Leafs this season, last game aside.

Prediction

The Blue Jackets' water bottle is well-protected. Also, we are all probably watching Game 1 of the ALCS instead.