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Leafs vs. Wild Preview: Neato Underwriter

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I think of that every time I see Niederreiter’s name. I don’t know why.

NHL: Toronto Maple Leafs at Minnesota Wild Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Game 25: Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Minnesota Wild

Time: 7:30 PM EST

Location: Air Canada Centre, Toronto, ON

Broadcast/Streaming: Sportsnet

Opponent SBNation Site: Hockey Wilderness

The Minnesota Wild come to town tonight to square off against our hometown heroes. You may recall that the Leafs played in Minnesota in October, taking a 3-2 loss at the hands of the Wild and habitual Leaf-killer Eric Staal. Let’s hope for better this time around. The Leafs’ goalie in that game, Jhonas Enroth, has been banished to Ricoh for his failings.

Minnesota has been doing well so far this year, though that’s mostly thanks to star goalie Devan Dubnyk. Eric Staal has been doing good work for the Wild as their 1C and the Wild have a dangerous top line (Staal and his RW Charlie Coyle lead the team with 17 points apiece). Leading defenceman Ryan Suter continues to munch minutes and put up points, but he gets snowed under in possession, and the team as a whole is a minus in that regard. This is a winnable game for the good guys.

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 - Martin Marincin

Matt Hunwick - Roman Polak

Goaltenders

Frederik Andersen

Antoine Bibeau

The William Nylander as 4C experiment continues, though as many have noted, he’s playing as much as a top six winger as as a fourth-line centre. Hunlak continues to play because we’re all bad people who sin too much in our lives. Antoine Bibeau is up to fill the backup role in case things get ugly. Nazem Kadri, Matt Martin and Matt Hunwick have all been sick this week, but barring a declaration they’re not playing, we’ll assume they’re good to go.

UPDATED UPDATE: Martin Marincin missed practice due to illness, as per Kristen Shilton, but will be available for the game.

MINNESOTA WILD

Forward Lines

Nido Niederreiter - Eric Staal - Charlie Coyle

Jason Zucker - Mikko Koivu -Mikael Granlund

Zach Parise - Eric Haula - Jason Pominville

Chris Stewart - Tyler Graovac - Kurtis Gabriel

Defence Pairings

Ryan Suter - Jared Spurgeon

Jonas Brodin - Matt Dumba

Marco Scandella - Nate Prosser

Goaltenders

Devan Dubnyk

Darcy Kuemper

The Wild have a pretty solid top six, all things considered, plus the best third line of 2012 with Parise and Pominville on it. Remember Chris Stewart? Man, that guy fell off a cliff. Anyway, the Leafs need to be ready to handle that first line especially; Kadri and friends will likely draw the task, hopefully freeing up the Bozak line to score at home.

The Wild’s defence isn’t the most impressive I’ve ever seen, but I wouldn’t mind trying to poach one of their top four if the expansion draft nudges one loose for trade—possibly Matt Dumba. Mostly I just think Ryan Suter is overrated, but hey, he does put up big offensive and TOI numbers.

The Leafs have the horses to run with this team, but Dubnyk is a tough nut to crack. Hopefully we can give him a flashback to his Edmonton days. Go Leafs Go.