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Updated: Leafs vs. Islanders Preview: Battle of the Calder Winners

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Look, Barzal’s probably going to get it, let’s be real.

NHL: New York Islanders at Toronto Maple Leafs John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Toronto Maple Leafs vs. New York Islanders: Game #52

Time: 7:30 ET

Location: Air Canada Centre

Broadcast/Streaming: Sportnet

Opponent SBNation Site: Lighthouse Hockey

Go home, break’s over.

The Leafs return to action post-All Star Break, hopefully rejuvenated and ready to rock. The Leafs will need either a spectacular hot streak or a total collapse to change their seeding, but absent either one of those, we’d settle for them looking like a team that can beat the Tampa Bay Lightning or (more likely) the Boston Bruins. Maybe some new lines can be the start of that?

Toronto Maple Leafs

Forward Lines

Zach Hyman - Auston Matthews - William Nylander

Patrick Marleau - Nazem Kadri - Mitch Marner

James van Riemsdyk - Tyler Bozak - Connor Brown

Leo Komarov - Dominic Moore - Kasperi Kapanen

Defence Pairings

Jake Gardiner - Ron Hainsey

Travis Dermott - Nikita Zaitsev*

Andreas Borgman - Connor Carrick

Goaltenders

Frederik Andersen

Curtis McElhinney

And a great Hallelujah went up from Leafland. Considering the Leafs are down their 1D, Morgan Rielly—and noting Nikita Zaitsev is not a guarantee—these are about the lines Leaf Twitter would design. Well, except maybe flipping Brown and Kapanen (maybe that’s just me.) Still, the very exciting Marleau - Kadri - Marner line remains intact, and rookie hotshot Travis Dermott is rewarded for his early work with a second-pairing slot. Hopefully these lines deliver, after all the time we’ve spent begging for them.

BUT WAIT:

Our assumption would be that if Ron Hainsey can’t go, the defence pairings will be something like:

Jake Gardiner - Nikita Zaitsev

Travis Dermott - Connor Carrick

Andreas Borgman - Justin Holl

This would be, how you say, a bit messy.

New York Islanders

Forward Lines

Anders Lee - John Tavares - Josh Bailey

Anthony Beauvillier - Matthew Barzal - Jordan Eberle

Jason Chimera - Brock Nelson - Tanner Fritz

Andrew Ladd - Casey Cizikas - Cal Clutterbucjk

Defence Pairings

Nick Leddy - Curtis Mayfield

Adam Pelech - Dennis Seidenberg

Thomas Hickey - Ryan Pulock

Goaltenders

Thomas Greiss

Jaroslav Halak

The John Tavares show is still running, and it really is wonderful, but for the first time in recent memory the Isles’ second line is almost as impressive. Playmaking rookie Matthew Barzal is having a Calder-worthy season, Jordan Eberle is producing the way he usually does, and Anthony Beauvillier is also appearing in this production. Peter Chiarelli hopes you enjoy your gifts, Isles fans.

The Isles are a bit banged up, though—they’re down defencemen Johnny Boychuk and Calvin de Haan, as well as the best player in the world, Nikolai Kulemin. The Isles as a whole are not an especially impressive possession team and their goaltending has been lousy this year, so it’s not like they’re unbeatable if you can survive those top two lines. Easier said than done, though.

Thomas Greiss is getting the start.

Go Leafs Go!