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[Preview] Toronto Maple Leafs vs Boston Bruins: Morgan Rielly and Ron Hainsey are back

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The suddenly surging Leafs face the Bruins in a potential round 1 preview. But now there’s too many defencemen and someone has to be cut.

NHL: Boston Bruins at Toronto Maple Leafs Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Toronto Maple Leafs vs Boston Bruins: Game 54

Time: 7 pm ET

Location: TD Garden, Boston

Broadcast/Streaming: CBC, CBC.ca

Opponent SBNation Site: Stanley Cup of Chowder

The Leafs got everyone confused this morning by putting 23 skaters and 2 goalies on the ice for morning skate. This crowd included nine defenders in four pairs with Justin Holl as the extra.

The final result, after all that fun of guessing who was in and who was out and with all of the land terrified that Polak was in and bargaining in their hearts to accept that Dermott might be scratched to let Borgman and Carrick play the third pair ... the final result was a third pair that was completely different from any on the ice at skate.

Mike Babcock played us all.

If Roman Polak is still on IR, as he should be since that lasts 7 days, then only one player needs to be sent to the AHL to make the roster fit. For now.

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

Morgan Rielly - Ron Hainsey

Jake Gardiner - Nikita Zaitsev

Travis Dermott - Connor Carrick

Goaltenders

Frederik Andersen

Curtis McElhinney

Boston Bruins (via DailyFaceoff)

Forward Lines

Danton Heinen - Patrice Bergeron - David Pastrnank

Jake Debrusk - David Krejci - Ryan Spooner

Austin Czarnik - Riley Nash - David Backes

Tim Schaller - Sean Kuraly - Frank Vatrano

Defence Pairings

Zdeno Chara - Brandon Carlo

Torey Krug - Adam McQuaid

Matt Grzelcyk - Kevan Miller

Goaltenders

Tuukka Rask

Anton Khudobin

The Bruins are a little shorthanded as they head into tonight’s game. With Brad Marchand suspended, Anders Bjork and Noel Acciari injured, and Charlie McAvoy having just gone through a procedure to treat an irregular heartbeat, they are certainly not at their strongest. McAvoy hasn’t been ruled out for tonight, but he hasn’t yet gone into full-contact practices yet, as far as I can tell, and I’d be surprised if the Bruins risk him.

Nonetheless, Boston is dangerous. With Rask in net, they haven’t lost in regulation since late November, and incredible streak that has been powered by their elite top line and surprisingly strong youth movement. But without McAvoy and Marchand, two of their very best players, they are at their most vulnerable tonight, which the Leafs will try to take advantage of.

On the Leafs side of things, it is expected that Morgan Rielly and Ron Hainsey will be able to suit up tonight, providing a huge lift to a defence group that got on surprisingly well without them. Justin Holl will likely not have the chance to continue his goal streak, while it is my expectation that Dermott has made himself undroppable with his current play. The forward lines should stay the same.

Go Leafs Go!