Time: 7:00 pm Eastern Time
Location: Air Canada Centre
Opponent SBNation Site: Second City Hockey
Another day, another big game for the Buds, who currently have a tenuous hold on a playoff spot. Meanwhile, the Blackhawks have shaken off their early season doldrums to become a contender once again. This despite the cap wreaking havoc on their forward depth once again, and uncharacteristic struggles from Jonathan Toews to start the year. Ultimately, the Blackhawks are the model franchise for the rest of the league from an on-ice perspective (and probably the worst team off it), and if the Leafs are going to take the next step to be a contender, they need to follow the blueprint Chicago created. For now though, they just need to win the game.
Off the back of a strong performance in Tampa Bay, the Leafs can’t rely on depth goals from the likes of Polak and Martin to save the day. The big boys have to get going, and for the Leafs, that means Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner. Both were uncharacteristically quiet on the Florida trip, but will need to perform against the team playing two players who they are often compared to: Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Zach Hyman - Auston Matthews - William Nylander
James van Riemsdyk - Tyler Bozak - Mitch Marner
Leo Komarov - Nazem Kadri - Connor Brown
Matt Martin - Brian Boyle - Nikita Soshnikov
Morgan Rielly - Nikita Zaitsev
Jake Gardiner - Alexey Marchenko
Matt Hunwick - Roman Polak
Artemi Panarin - Nick Schmaltz - Patrick Kane
Richard Panik - Jonathan Toews - John Hayden
Ryan Hartman - Tanner Kero -
Andrew Desjardins - Marcus Kruger - Jordin Tootoo
Duncan Keith - Trevor van Riemsdyk
Johnny Oduya - Niklas Hjalmarsson
Brian Campbell - Brent Seabrook
How is this team still good? Look at who Jonathan Toews is playing with. Leafs fans would have an aneurysm if Matthews was played with Richard Panik. This team has like, five good forwards and a bunch of plugs filling the gaps. The defense and goaltending is more characteristically strong, and of course, with Joel Quenneville behind the bench, they have one of the best in the league from a systemic point of view. But the Leafs are no slouch either, and should be highly motivated to show up against one of the best teams in the league and make a statement in the stretch run for the post-season.
EDIT: Marian Hossa is out tonight. Unsure of who his replacement will be
Marian Hossa out tonight with a lower body injury— Mark Masters (@markhmasters) March 18, 2017
Go Leafs Go!