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Preview: Avalanche at Leafs, and Bibeau gets the start?

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The Avalanche are coming. Assuming the snow holds off long enough for them to get here from Montréal. Or the coach makes them walk.

Toronto Maple Leafs v Colorado Avalanche Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Colorado Avalanche at Toronto Maple leafs: Game #27

Time: 7:00 pm Eastern Time

Location: ACC

Broadcast/Streaming: Sportsnet and Altitude Sports, home of the Avalanche homers.

Opponent SBNation Site: Mile High Hockey

The Avalanche do this trip every year where they play Boston, Montréal and then the Leafs. They’re usually mired in the doldrums of losing, and are busy changing up the lineup in hopes they’ll suddenly win.

Last year they just beat Boston, beat the Habs soundly while playing terrible hockey, and got thumped by the Leafs in one of the most amusing games the Leafs played all year. Peter Holland had three points in that game as P.-A. Parenteau went to town on his old team and coach Patrick Roy.

Those days are gone. Holland is gone; Parenteau is gone; even Roy is gone. But the Avalanche are eternal. They beat Boston while playing terrible hockey, played the Habs two nights later and, well, it didn’t go well.

And now here they are in Toronto looking for a hand up out of the basement of their division.

They need a defenceman, not a hand. Erik Johnson is out with a broken leg, and now the man Roy called a fifth D, Tyson Barrie is their number one. His reward for that is playing with Nikita Zadorov. You can’t teach big would have had to be coined for Zadorov if it hand’t existed already as a way of saying, he’s got a long reach, and not much else.

The rest of the defense corps has two Columbus castoffs and one from Ottawa.

Gabriel Landeskog should be back in the lineup after missing a lot of games with a mysterious lower body injury, so they at least have a few good forwards. Recently, John Mitchell was waived as the Avs desperately hoped someone would take him and his Holland-sized cap hit off their hands. It didn’t work. They now have him centring some of their best forwards. As Babcock said, “In hockey, what is true today is not always true tomorrow.”

Between Mitchell and Joe Colborne, there’s ample opportunity for the ex-Leaf scoring curse to continue. Leafs fans will have to rely on Ben Smith to even things up.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Forward Lines

Zach Hyman - Auston Matthews - Connor Brown

James van Riemsdyk - Tyler Bozak - Mitch Marner

Leo Komarov - Nazem Kadri - Nikita Soshnikov

Matt Martin - William Nylander - Ben Smith

Defence Pairings

Morgan Rielly - Nikita Zaitsev

Jake Gardiner - ??

Matt Hunwick - Roman Polak

Goaltenders

Antoine Bibeau

Frederik Andersen

Colorado Avalanche

Forward Lines

Rene Bourque - Nathan Mackinnon - Blake Comeau

Gabriel Landeskog - Carl Soderberg - Jarome Iginla

Matt Duchene - John Mitchell - Mikko Rantanen

Mikhail Grigorenko - Joe Colborne - Andreas Martinsen

Defence Pairings

Nikita Zadorov - Tyson Barrie

Francois Beauchemin - Cody Goloubef

Patrick Wiercioch - Fedor Tyutin

Goaltenders

Semyon Varlamov

Calvin Pickard


Lineups are subject to the whims of the coaches. We’ll update this post if we get new information on who is likely to play or if the Avs have just decided to relegate themselves to the AHL. But apparently the decision on the starter for the Leafs is Antoine Bibeau.

Babcock said they would decide on the plane back from Boston. But okay, so you start Antoine Bibeau against two of the best snipers in the NHL in Nate MacKinnon and Matt Duchene who are both in a very bad mood. Bibeau’s record against AHL snipers this year is not stellar.

Deep down I want to see it, but my thinking brain says it is a bad idea. We shall see as game time approaches if Babcock will choose to give Bibeau a go as he looks for someone to seize the backup goaltender job.