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Preview: Maple Leafs host the Buffalo Sabres at Ricoh

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Given how AHL the lineups will be, the setting is likely appropriate.

NHL: Preseason-Ottawa Senators at Toronto Maple Leafs
How many games will Andreas Borgman play at Ricoh this year?
Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

TEAM at TEAM: Pre-season Game #3

Time: 7:30 pm Eastern Time

Location: Ricoh Coliseum, Toronto: Home of your Toronto Marlies

Broadcast/Streaming: TSN4

Opponent SBNation Site: Die By the Blade

It’s time for another pre-season game! Are you excited?

Toronto Maple Leafs

Forward Lines (from Thursday’s practice)

Zach Hyman - Auston Matthews - William Nylander

Patrick Marleau - Nazem Kadri - Leo Komarov

Josh Leivo - Miro Aaltonen - Connor Brown

Matt Martin - Chris Mueller - Tobias Lindberg

Trevor Moore, Dmytro Timashov Likely scratches as per morning skate.

Defence Pairings (from morning skate)

Morgan Rielly - Ron Hainsey

Andreas Borgman - Travis Dermott

Andrew Nielsen - Justin Holl

Vincent LoVerde - Roman Polak

Goaltenders

Curtis McElhinney

Garret Sparks

Buffalo Sabres

Forward Lines

67 Benoit Pouliot - 90 Ryan O'Reilly - 25 Seth Griffith

22 Johan Larsson - 10 Jacob Josefson - 13 Nicholas Baptiste

71 Evan Rodrigues - 28 Zemgus Girgensons - 52 Stevie Moses

44 Nicolas Deslauriers - 12 Kevin Porter - 59 Cliff Pu

Defensive Pairings

19 Jake McCabe - 5 Matt Tennyson

93 Victor Antipin - 38 Cody Goloubef

41 Justin Falk - 27 Taylor Fedun

Goaltenders

35 Linus Ullmark

32 Adam Wilcox


This game is at Ricoh Coliseum, so for anyone who has never been to or watched a Marlies game, this might be a new experience. For the AHLers on the two teams, it’s just business as usual. Hyman and Nylander can tell “riding the busses” stories to Matthews all game long.

Many of the PPP staff have haunted the halls of Ricoh, so I asked them to tell you what it is like.

Gunnar: i was there once in high school. my friend got hit on by a sixty year-old man. it was weird. did fist bump joe colborne, though. i thought he was going to be a star.

Fulemin: Nice enough? It avoids the feeling that you're watching the game from outer space, which is how I feel in any seat I can remotely afford at the ACC. It always has many more seats than people, which isn't great, but them's the breaks.

nafio: Ricoh's kinda dark, the sightlines are good, the cheerleaders need to go and the food might not be as high falutin as what you can get at the ACC but it's cheaper. Worth the price of admission

Brigstew: I've gone to a couple of games recently for PPP gatherings. It was fun, bit of a pain to get to but the arena is cozy (as in, small) and you get good views of the ice wherever we sat. It's not a luxury arena by any means but for the act of watching hockey it's a good time

Janik Beichler: I was there with a bunch of people from Australia and the UK once. They all saw their first-ever hockey game and most cared more about their poutine than the game. It was also the day I met Species, though, so there were ups and downs.

Now you can figure out yourself which one’s which (ups/downs)

seldo: Ricoh's fine. I don't have any issues with transit (go train what what!) You can basically sit anywhere you want, ushers never bother unless it's the on the glass seats.

Arvind: The one game I saw was the Marlies game that had the Nylander hat-trick, so it was fun for that reason. I actually found it pretty hard to find my seat, but that's just me being dumb. Pretty good sightlines, cozy atmosphere - great for a playoff game, though it might get depressing for a regular season game with 500 fans

seldo: Having the team cross the concourse to and from the bench is awesome for kids to watch and great to heckle to opposing team

Species: The Ricoh press box is in the worst possible location. The Smoke's Poutine is way too salty. It's always too cold or too warm. The birds that fly around inside are interesting. That is all.


At this time no one at PPP has been hired to work in PR for the Marlies or for Ricoh Coliseum.

Watching AHL games on AHL LIve’s very own Potato Vision™, I feel like the in-game experience at Ricoh is very good for children. They are the clear focus, and the crowds (usually very large by AHL standards) are young families. For an NHL game, it will likely be a bit like a serious rock show put on in a high school auditorium. I expect it will be very strange.

If you missed it, the reason this and two more games are at Ricoh is that the ACC is in use for the Invictus Games.

So, as far as that lineup goes, that’s a lot of AHLers right there in one list. The Leafs have no plans to make any more cuts until the last day, so we should expect to get our fill of all these guys with very slim chances of making the team.

Various factions of fans and media have decided that Dermott is ready, no Borgman is, no Aaltonen is way better than Moore, why won’t Babcock give him a chance. (This all seems a touch premature.) Then there’s Calle Rosen, who is the next contestant on the Leafs media hype train. (Do you remember last summer when Justin Holl was totally ready to make the jump?)

Meanwhile, someone on a broadcast, I think it was Ray and Gord on TSN, were discussing these players from the other direction. Do any of them have European out clauses? Will any of them simply go back to Europe if they don’t make the Leafs? It flies in the face of the overpowered optimism that’s got everyone in its grip right now, but it’s a very good question.

If a player like Aaltonen or Rosen don’t have an out clause, they can still simply mutually terminate their contracts. That’s what Steve Moses did when he was cut from the Predators a couple of years ago. He plays for the Amerks now, having decided to say goodbye to the KHL. If he plays in one of these Sabres games over the next two days, have a look at a player who scored a lot more goals in the KHL than Miro Aaltonen ever dreamed of and remember how hard the NHL is to make.

Updated: we have the Sabres lines now, and there is Moses in the lineup. I think he is the only AHL-contracted player in this game, but I’m not up on every Sabre. Also note our old friend Seth Griffith on the top line. In what might be related news, Alex Nylander is still out with an injury. He might move into one of the top RW spots and knock Griffith out of the lineup, unless Griffith impresses the Sabres.