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Preview: Carolina Hurricanes versus Toronto Maple Leafs

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The ‘Canes come to town looking to show off how young and fast they are.

NHL: Carolina Hurricanes at Toronto Maple Leafs Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Carolina Hurricanes at Toronto Maple Leafs: Game 10

Time: 7:00 p.m.

Location: The same spot that had a Fall Out Boy show last night.

Broadcast/Streaming: Sportsnet, Fox Sports - Carolina

Opponent SBNation Site: Cane’s Country

Little brother is coming to town! The Carolina Hurricanes are the Leafs, coloured in in red and cut down in size for a market that isn’t awash in money. They have the second lowest cap hit in the league, and they have Mike Babcock’s old protege behind the bench, not Babcock himself.

They have TvR not JvR. They have the lesser Staal, the lesser McGinn and the lesser Rask. They have Sebastian Aho as their hottest, young centre, and they have Elias Lindholm, not William Nylander as the scoring winger who won a World Championships this year.

And you underrate them at your peril.

Their record is only so-so this year, 3-3-1 with seven points, but due to an oddity of their schedule, they’ve played fewer games and a lot of them on the road. They are young, fast, and that blueline, scroll down and look — check out that list of defenders! What do you mean, you’ve never heard of most of them?

Fun fact: Trevor van Riemsdyk is the oldest. Okay, that’s because they cut bait on Ron Hainsey last year, and look where he ended up! Jaccob Slavin is the best, and he’s the guy the ‘Canes locked up to term, and no, they are never trading him. Slavin is so good, they use him in shootouts. He is a scoring threat, he drives play, and he is fun to watch. He’s 23.

The other defender under a long term contract is Brett Pesce. He is also very good, and he’s 22. It almost doesn’t matter if Hadyn Fleury and Noah Hanifin don’t live up to their draft position. This blueline is set for years.

The forwards are missing something, however. Lots of them are very good, nearly elite quality in Aho and Jeff Skinner, but they are missing a truly great forward to push them up into playoff territory. When you watch them, you can see that the last ten feet of every play falls short. They outplayed the Lightning the other day and lost because only the Bolts could score.

Some of the forwards are rocking really garbage shooting percentages right now, though, and the team is mostly losing games because they have a team shooting percentage almost as low as Montréal and Edmonton. This will improve to a point, but they historically do poorly at scoring goals.

Lindholm isn’t bad. He played on the top line at Worlds with Rask, and they were very effective. And totally eclipsed by the Nylander-Backstrom show. It’s a Backstrom type the ‘Canes need. And they didn’t make a move this summer to get one, but if any team can deal for one of the scoring forwards being talked about as on the market, it’s them. But, sorry, they don’t want an old pending UFA. They do hockey on the budget plan.

They still play fast, aggressive offence and put up tighter defence than anything the Leafs can do on their best day. And they have a real goalie now.

This should be a fun and fast game.

Toronto Maple Leafs

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

Andreas Borgman - Roman Polak

Goaltenders

Frederik Andersen

Curtis McElhinney

Carolina Hurricanes

Lines from leftwinglock

Forward Lines

Sebastian Aho - Jordan Staal - Elias Lindholm

Brock Mcginn - Victor Rask - Teuvo Teravainen

Jeff Skinner - Derek Ryan - Justin Williams

Joakim Nordstrom - Marcus Kruger - Josh Jooris

Defence Pairings

Jaccob Slavin - Brett Pesce

Noah Hanifin - Justin Faulk

Haydn Fleury - Trevor Van Riemsdyk

Goaltenders

Scott Darling

Cam Ward


The question hanging over the Leafs is the status of van Riemsdyk the Elder. He missed practice yesterday, the lines were shaken up, twitter melted down over the really very wrong assumption that Babcock would play Eric Fehr over Josh Leivo, and the final decision was to be finalized today at morning skate.

Morning skate was an exercise in will he or won’t he, with analysis of body language, and all I’m thinking is why is there even a question when it’s October and the Leafs have won tonnes of games? If he’s iffy, sit him down.

And when it all shook out, everyone was in their usual place, and it seems like the Leafs will ice the same lineup in the same configuration that beat the Kings.

One note on that: Babcock pointed out that Mitch Marner moved around onto three different lines in that game. He expects that to continue.

So there’s nothing left to say but, Go Leafs Go!

Oops, one more thing: