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Preview: Toronto Maple Leafs visit New Jersey Devils on a quest for points

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The Leafs visit New Jersey for some fun, excitement and, if they’re lucky, two points.

Toronto Maple Leafs v New Jersey Devils Photo by Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images

Toronto Maple Leafs at New Jersey Devils: Game 38

Time: 7:30 pm Eastern Time

Location: The Rock

Broadcast/Streaming: MSG+ and Sportsnet Ontario

Opponent SBNation Site: All About the Jersey

The Leafs start their bye week on Sunday, so leading up to that is yet another back-to-back where the first game is a road game. This schedule this year earns the Hershey’s Kiss emoji.

A trip to New Jersey means a chance to see the Leafs only 20-goal scorer last year, Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau.

This year, the Leafs already have one in Auston Matthews. At not quite halfway through the season, Nazem Kadri is second with 14, James van Riemsdyk is third with 13, and Mitch Marner is fourth with 10. Connor Brown and William Nylander are right behind him with nine each.

That means there are two players on each of the top three lines that are in a position to get to 20 goals.

Parenteau, meanwhile, is leading the Devils in goals with 11. This isn’t quite like his year on the Leafs, where he was the only man who could score after van Riemsdyk was injured. The Devils have five other players at eight or more goals. But they aren’t scoring like the Leafs are now.

Which raises the question: how would Parenteau fare on the Leafs of today? He seems like he’s putting in a nearly identical performance for the Devils as he did for the Leafs, driving play, working on a line with good players, putting it in the net reliably. Could he have handled the Toronto pace this year?

The Devils have the lowest Corsi For rate in the league right now, and the Leafs are third highest. The Devils also have an okay middle of the pack Corsi Against rate, while Toronto is third worst. These teams are night and day, and while he’s playing with young and fast players on the Devils, I’m not sure he could drop into Connor Brown’s spot and make an impact.

When assessing players, it is difficult to factor in such dramatic differences in team play and ability. It’s possible Parenteau is just a really good bad team forward. But it isn’t very often that the end of a player’s career has such success, so I’m happy he’s bucking the trend of hitting age 30 and being shown the door in the NHL, no matter how he’s doing it.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Forward Lines

(based on the last couple of games and practices)

Zach Hyman - Auston Matthews - Connor Brown

James van Riemsdyk - Tyler Bozak - Mitch Marner

Leo Komarov - Nazem Kadri - William Nylander

Matt Martin - Frederik Gauthier - Nikita Soshnikov

Defence Pairings

Morgan Rielly - Nikita Zaitsev

Jake Gardiner - Connor Carrick

Matt Hunwick - Roman Polak

Goaltenders

Frederik Andersen

Antoine Bibeau

New Jersey Devils

Forward Lines

(from Daily Faceoff, so likely wildly incorrect)

Michael Cammalleri - Adam Henrique - Kyle Palmieri

Taylor Hall - Pavel Zacha - P.A. Parenteau

Miles Wood - Sergey Kalinin - Nick Lappin

Luke Gazdic - Devante Smith-Pelly - Beau Bennett

Defence Pairings

Andy Greene - Ben Lovejoy

Damon Severson - Kyle Quincey

Jon Merrill - Steven Santini

Goaltenders

Cory Schneider

Keith Kinkaid


This is a back-to-back for the Leafs, so goaltender choice is not a given. From the activity at practice yesterday, the guess is Antione Bibeau is getting the start, leaving Montréal and Carey Price to Frederik Andersen.

Updated!

It was all a terrible fever dream!

With the break after, now it seems that Andersen might play both because no way are the Leafs putting the backup in against the Habs on a Saturday night. Are they? Are they? Tell me they aren’t!

Now we need to talk about Boston. They lost last night to the Oilers. And that means that if Toronto wins this game in regulation, they will be tied in points with Boston with Toronto holding the first tiebreaker of games played. The Leafs will move into the playoff spot currently held by the Bruins.

It’s been two years since the Leafs were sitting in a playoff spot during the season. It’s not a chair the Leafs can keep forever, if they get to sit in it. The Lightning are right there in points, so is Florida, and Boston aren’t just going to go away. But it’s there, in sight, right now.

Go Leafs Go!