Time: 7:00 pm Eastern Time
Location: PNC arena, in beautiful Raleigh, where it’s supposed to be 18° today.
Broadcast/Streaming: Sportsnet 360, Sportsnet 1, Fox Sports - Carolina
Opponent SBNation Site: Canes Country
A couple of weeks ago, and I’d have called this game a battle for the wild card, but the Hurricanes have simply sunk in the standings. They seem hopelessly out of it, but then Buffalo did a couple of weeks ago too.
Now Toronto is in a mess of teams all converging on a projected 93 or 94 points, and it’s impossible to say who has the best chance at the playoff spots open. There are seven teams at four points or less away from the wild card in the Eastern Conference, and Tampa is sitting there right below them not out of the game yet.
Hold on to your hats, or butts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.
With Mitch Marner still out of the lineup, the Leafs will need to find some offensive spark on the rearranged lines. And if playing the suddenly defensively gifted Senators wasn’t annoying enough, now they face the Babcock system-playing Hurricanes, full of youth and vigour and blessed with terrible goaltending.
Toronto Maple Leafs
From the last game
Zach Hyman - Auston Matthews - William Nylander
James van Riemsdyk - Tyler Bozak - Conner Brown
Leo Komarov - Nazem Kadri - Josh Leivo
Matt Martin - Ben Smith - Nikita Soshnikov
Morgan Rielly - Nikita Zaitsev
Jake Gardiner - Connor Carrick
Matt Hunwick - Roman Polak
From their last game
Sebastian Aho - Jordan Staal - Elias Lindholm
Jeff Skinner - Teuvo Teravainen - Lee Stempniak
Brock McGinn - Victor Rask - Derek Ryan
Joakim Nordstrom - Jay McClement - Viktor Stalberg
Jaccob Slavin - Matt Tennyson
Ron Hainsey - Justin Faulk
Noah Hanifin - Klas Dahlbeck
The expectation should be that Curtis McElhinney will get another start on this second back-to-back in recent games. And this one involving some nice, long travel too. This schedule is great isn’t it?
Cam Ward started in Carolina’s last game, a desultory defeat to the Colorado Avalanche in overtime. Eddie Lack is only just back after missing a lot of time due to injury. It seems likely Ward will be in net again.
We will update you with any word on lineup changes, but with no morning skate for the Leafs, there will likely be little information before game time.