Game 25: Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Minnesota Wild
Time: 7:30 PM EST
Location: Air Canada Centre, Toronto, ON
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
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
Morgan Rielly - Nikita Zaitsev
Jake Gardiner - Martin Marincin
Matt Hunwick - Roman Polak
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.
Nido Niederreiter - Eric Staal - Charlie Coyle
Jason Zucker - Mikko Koivu -Mikael Granlund
Zach Parise - Eric Haula - Jason Pominville
Chris Stewart - Tyler Graovac - Kurtis Gabriel
Ryan Suter - Jared Spurgeon
Jonas Brodin - Matt Dumba
Marco Scandella - Nate Prosser
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.