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Game Preview: Toronto Maple Leafs vs. St. Louis Blues

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Welcome to the Tarasenkshow

NHL: St. Louis Blues at Toronto Maple Leafs John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Leafs have been taking a beating recently, and Saturday night’s tilt against the Blues could be more of the same.

Maple Leafs @ Blues
7:00PM - Scottrade Centre
Watch: CBC, Game Centre Live
Listen: TSN1050, Sportsnet590
SBN Rival: St. Louis Game Time

The Blues are off to a great start this year. They lead the Central Division by five points, and are tied with the Kings for the conference lead in that category. Unsurprisingly, Vladimir Tarasenko is off to a torrid start, with 14 points in as many games. More surprisingly, he doesn’t lead their team in scoring. That honour belongs to Jaden Schwartz, who has long been an under-appreciated figure around the NHL, but is finally putting up the numbers to generate the talk his all-around play has deserved for a while. Those two are centred by the newly acquired Brayden Schenn. If there is a weakness to this team, it is centre depth. Paul Stastny is likely their best centre, and they keep him away from Tarasenko’s line in order to balance their lines out.

On the back end, they are led by two of the best defencemen in the NHL - Alex Pietrangelo and Colton Parayko. But once again, their depth is a little lacking. Carl Gunnarsson was out of place on the top pair on Toronto 4 years ago. The same is true now. As much crap as Jay Bouwmeester gets, his ability to log big minutes would be a welcome addition to this team.

Jake Allen will be between the pipes, and he’s been a big reason for their success to start the year, with a .929 save percentage. They shoot at a league average rate, and their possession is middling. Allen has been what has separated them, in the early going.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Zach Hyman - Auston Matthews - William Nylander
Leo Komarov - Nazem Kadri - Kasperi Kapanen
James van Riemsdyk - Patrick Marleau - Connor Brown
Matt Martin - Tyler Bozak - Mitch Marner

Morgan Rielly - Ron Hainsey
Jake Gardiner - Connor Carrick
Andreas Borgman - Nikita Zaitsev

Frederik Andersen
Curtis McElhinney

St. Louis Blues (via Daily Faceoff)

Jaden Schwartz - Brayden Schenn - Vladimir Tarasenko
Vladimir Sobotka - Paul Stastny - Alex Steen
Dmitri Jaskin - Oskar Sundqvist - Magnus Paajarvi
Scottie Upshall - Kyle Brodziak - Chris Thorburn

Carl Gunnarsson - Alex Pietrangelo
Joel Edmunson - Colton Parayko
Vince Dunn - Robert Bortuzzo

Jake Allen
Carter Hutton