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Game Preview: Toronto hosts Chicago while you eat turkey with your family

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Read our preview and get some ideas on things to talk about with your loved ones.

NHL: Montreal Canadiens at Toronto Maple Leafs
Can Mattews hold onto that 1C job without improving his faceoffs?
Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Chicago at Toronto Maple Leafs: Game #3

Time: 7:00 pm Eastern Time

Location: ACC

Broadcast/Streaming: NHLN-US, TSN4, NBCSCH

Opponent SBNation Site: Second City Hockey

Not everyone spends holidays like Thanksgiving with their family. And however you choose to spend your time is okay with me. But for many hockey fans, Thanksgiving means dinner with the family, and that means hockey talk with the family. Beats politics talk with the family.

To help out our readers, we’ve got all the information you need to deftly change the subject around the dinner table to something safe and non-controversial. First the lines for the game, based on the morning skate for the Leafs and a guess for Chicago. And yes, Richard Panik is on Chicago’s first line, and we’ll just have to learn to live with that. It’s character building.

Connor Carrick missed a practice with an undisclosed injury, and skated this morning with Roman Polak as the fourth pair. It’s not known if he will play or not.

Toronto Maple Leafs

From morning skate.

Forward Lines

Zach Hyman - Auston Matthews - William Nylander

James van Riemsdyk - Tyler Bozak - Mitch Marner

Patrick Marleau - Nazem Kadri - Leo Komarov

Matt Martin - Dominic Moore - Connor Brown

Defence Pairings

Morgan Rielly - Ron Hainsey

Jake Gardiner - Nikita Zaitsev

Andreas Borgman - Calle Rosen

Goaltenders

Frederik Andersen

Curtis McElhinney

Chicago

From morning skate

Forward Lines

Brandon Saad -Jonathan Toews - Richard Panik

Ryan Hartman - Artem Anisimov - Patrick Kane

Patrick Sharp - Tanner Kero- Alexander Debrincat

Lance Bouma - Tommy Wingels - John Hayden

Defence Pairings

Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook

Michal Kempny - Connor Murphy

Gustav Forsling - Jan Rutta

Goaltenders

Corey Crawford

Anton Forsberg - looks to be the starter tonight

PPP helps you talk to your family about hockey

Of course, you likely wouldn’t be reading here at the home of nerds in basements unless you like to hear some stats on the players from time to time. So, to give you some talking points to share with your family, I’ve carefully combed the only stat site you need, NHL.com, and found some gems for you to talk about.

The Leafs are in tough in this game because Corey Crawford has a Goals Against Average of 1, while Frederik Andersen’s is 3.5. But take heart, both Winnipeg's goalies are over 6, so they’re doomed. Andersen just needs to make some of these key saves at important moments.

The fourth line for the Leafs is key to their success. Dominic Moore is 100% in the faceoff circle, and I would have liked to see him in. He was 9-0 in his last game. But the real issue here is up the lineup. Mitch Marner and William Nylander are both excellent this season at 63% and 58% respectively. It’s really clear that a centre depth chart of Matthews, Nylander, Marner would be far superior to what the Leafs have now.

I know you’re thinking Matthews’ FOW% is only 42%, the worst on the team so why do I still have him in that rotation, but even I will admit he brings some other things to the table to make up for this terrible performance in the faceoff dot. He needs to buckle down and work on that though, or he could lose the number one spot to Marner.

As it stands now, you have to wonder what Babcock is thinking playing his forward lineup the way he is.

At least Matthews’ plus/minus is decent at +4, but some of that is Nylander, with the team leading +6, carrying his weaker linemates. Zach Hyman only has a +3 and with Marleau at the same mark, dreams of putting him on the top line will have to die. He’s no better, obviously.

Ron Hainsey at +1 and Morgan Rielly at 0 (of course, he’s lower) really show how vital it was to give the weaker man a strong partner. With Andreas Borgman at +2, his position should be secure, but Babcock again, willfully misplays him, sitting him out for Calle Rosen. This sort of old-guard thinking is what’s holding back the Leafs.

Nikita Zaitsev is leading the team in blocked shots, proving all the naysayers wrong over his contract.

If only Babcock would use a statistical lens to optimize his lineup, the Leafs would be unstoppable.

But until that happens, the question has to be: With two teams facing each other who have each scored 15 goals in two games, how many goals will tonight’s game feature?

Oh, and Go Leafs, Go!

Poll

How many goals will tonight’s game have?

This poll is closed

  • 35%
    At least 15, let the red light shine!
    (194 votes)
  • 37%
    It will be a 1-1 tie that goes to a shootout.
    (207 votes)
  • 27%
    Doesn’t that depend on who wins the faceoffs?
    (150 votes)
551 votes total Vote Now