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Playoff Game 2 Preview: Toronto Maple Leafs at Washington Capitals

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In the words of Mike Babcock, “[Backstrom] puts his big a** into you and holds you off.”

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Toronto Maple Leafs at Washington Capitals Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Toronto Maple Leafs at Washington Capitals

7:00PM - Verizon Centre, Washington DC

TV: CBC/NBCSN/TVA Sports

Radio: TSN1050

Stream it: GameCentre Live, NBC Sports

SBN Capitals site: Japers’ Rink

Preview

Game 1 was a first run of the line matching that we’ll see Barry Trotz deploy against the Maple Leafs. What worked for Washington? Japers’ Rink took a look at the line matches and found some interesting stuff.

The Caps were successful when they matched the Evgeny Kuznetsov-Justin Williams-Marcus Johansson line against the Leafs’ top lines, limiting Auston Matthews’ and Mitch Marner’s chances totally, especially alongside the defense pairing of Dmitry Orlov and Matt Niskanen. The second Marner was able to get away from Orlov and Niskanen, he was able to convert on a chance.

The Caps’ third line of Lars Eller-Andre Burakovsky-Brett Connolly was also excellent, especially when sent out on the ice against Matt Martin-Brian Boyle-Kasperi Kapanen. The Caps’ fourth line, including Tom Wilson, did so well against the Leafs’ top lines that it won the game.

This begs the question, what changes will Babcock make in personnel in preparation for tonight’s game? We know that Babcock wanted Nikita Zaitsev to play in Game 2, but was denied. Therefore, he’s said that he’s making no changes to defense. Will there be changes to the forwards? It’s the playoffs, so everything is locked down like Fort Knox. Babcock has told reporters that he simply wants everyone to elevate their game.

We also know that Babcock will continue to be wary of Nicholas Backstrom’s enormous...skill:

And despite Wilson agreeing with Babcock, I’m pretty sure he won’t be giving them any more wipeboard fodder.

I have questions but no answers about game 1. Feel free to answer them for us.

(1) In the first period of game 1, the momentum seemed all the Leafs'. Are the Caps habitually slow to start? What do you think went into their play in the first that might have led to the two Leafs goals? Was it home-arena pressure?

(2) Barry Trotz and Mike Babcock are both excellent at line matching. What matching was particularly interesting for you in Game 1? Did you agree with Trotz's deployment? Do you anticipate any changes for Game 2?

(3) The big guns like Ovechkin and Matthews were kept off the board in Game 1. What will Matthews’ line have to do to make a bigger difference in Game 2?

Lines will be in flux at the coaches’ whims, and we might not have the most current information. It will be updated as news comes in today.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Forwards

Zach Hyman - Auston Matthews - William Nylander

Leo Komarov - Nazem Kadri - Connor Brown

James van Riemsdyk - Tyler Bozak - Mitchell Marner

Matt Martin - Brian Boyle - Kasperi Kapanen

Defense

Morgan Rielly- Matt Hunwick

Jake Gardiner - Roman Polak

Martin Marincin - Connor Carrick

Goaltenders

Frederik Andersen

Curtis McElhinney

Washington Capitals

Forwards

Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - T.J. Oshie

Marcus Johansson - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Justin Williams

Brett Connolly - Lars Eller - Andre Burakovsky

Daniel Winnik - Jay Beagle - Tom Wilson

Defense

Dmitri Orlov - Matt Niskanen

Brooks Orpik - Kevin Shattenkirk

Karl Alzner - Nate Schmidt

Goaltenders

Braden Holtby

Philipp Grubauer

Poll

Who will win Game 2?

This poll is closed

  • 79%
    Leafs
    (327 votes)
  • 20%
    Caps
    (83 votes)
410 votes total Vote Now