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Leafs vs. Caps Preview: DC Rematch

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The Leafs travel to the U.S. capital to face a familiar foe.

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Toronto Maple Leafs at Washington Capitals Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Toronto Maple Leafs at Washington Capitals: Game #6

Time: 7:00 PM EST

Location: Capital One Arena, Washington D.C.

Broadcast/Streaming: TSN4, NBCSWA

Opponent SBNation Site: Japer’s Rink

I’m sure you all remember the charming gang from Washington D.C., with whom we had a spirited exchange last spring. The Leafs seem to be on the rise, while the Capitals are wondering if their best chance to win it all has passed them by, and now they’re facing a slow death. Music cue!

Notwithstanding the loss of quite a few fine players, the Capitals are still a power in the Metropolitan Division. Alexander Ovechkin was supposed to be over the hill, but you wouldn’t know it from his totals; he’s leading the league with nine goals in his first six games. Nick Backstrom, often underrated but one of the best centres in the NHL, was one of the league’s three stars last week (along with our own Auston Matthews.)

Both Washington and Toronto have tons of offensive firepower. The Caps no longer have an especially great defence. Both teams remember each other well. This should be fun.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Lines from morning skate

Forward Lines

Zach Hyman - Auston Matthews - William Nylander

James van Riemsdyk - Tyler Bozak - Connor Brown

Patrick Marleau - Nazem Kadri - Leo Komarov

Matt Martin - Dominic Moore - Mitch Marner

Defence Pairings

Morgan Rielly - Ron Hainsey

Jake Gardiner - Nikita Zaitsev

Calle Rosen - Connor Carrick

Goaltenders

Frederik Andersen

Curtis McElhinney

The controversy in Leafland right now is Mitch Marner’s demotion to the fourth line, in response to the JVR - Bozak - Marner line getting shelled defensively in the early going. Assuming it holds for tonight’s game, the hard-working Connor Brown is getting a promotion back into the top nine. I wouldn’t worry too much about Mitch; William Nylander spent two games on the fourth line last year, and look at him now. Also, Marner could do nasty things to an opposing fourth line.

Calle Rosen gets back in, replacing Andreas Borgman, as the third-pair tryouts continue. Moore’s back at 4C.

Frederik Andersen is getting the start tonight with Curtis McElhinney set to make his season debut tomorrow against Detroit.

Washington Capitals

Lines from morning skate.

Forward Lines

Alex Ovechkin - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Jakub Vrana

Andre Burakovsky - Nicklas Backstrom - T.J. Oshie

Brett Connolly - Lars Eller - Tom Wilson

Nathan Walker - Jay Beagle - Devante Smith-Pelly

Defence Pairings

John Carlson - Christian Djoos

Brooks Orpik - Madison Bowey

Dmitry Orlov - Taylor Chorney

Goaltenders

Braden Holtby

Philipp Grubauer

Lars Eller has been sick is still not a sure thing for the game, so that might change. This is still one of the most impressive forward groups in the NHL, don’t let the talk of decline cloud that. They will score in bunches if they get the chance.

Defence is another story, especially with their best defender (Matt Niskanen) injured. I still don’t believe an NHL team should be playing Brooks Orpik in its top four unless all of its other options are legally dead. Carlson’s pretty good though, and it’s not like Toronto’s defence group is the ‘03 Devils.

With Holtby getting the start in net, the Leafs will be facing one of the finest goalies in the NHL. This is going to be a tough matchup, but the Leafs showed they could hang with the Caps last year, and our top line seems to have reached new heights this season. Go Leafs Go.