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Maple Leafs game preview: Duck hunter edition

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Randy’s back in Toronto for a visit with his pals from Anaheim.

Toronto Maple Leafs v Winnipeg Jets Photo by Marianne Helm/Getty Images

Maple Leafs vs. Ducks: Game # 55

Time: 7:00PM EDT

Location: Air Canada Centre, Toronto

Broadcast/Streaming: TSN 4 (blackouts in effect)

Opponent SBNation Site: Anaheim Calling

With the Superbowl over, the NHL returns from a weekend of matinee games to a regular evening slate, including the Leafs hosting their once per year game at the ACC against the Anaheim Ducks.

At 60 points earned so far, the Ducks sit tied with the Avalanche and Flames in the mushy middle of the Western Conference. They are presently on the outside of a playoff slot, but they are only one point behind the Wild in the last Wild Card playoff spot, and the Kings in the last Pacific Division playoff spot. The Stars and Sharks sit only a little further ahead at 64 points.

All this means the Ducks are a desperate team that needs to grab any points they can. Picking up two on a cross-conference road trip would be huge for them. You can be sure they will bring their best game tonight. Unfortunately, that best game is run by head coach RANNNNNNNDY!

The real question here is whatever happened to Bobby the maintenance guy? Is he still around? Has he moved on to bigger and better things? Did he open a hipster restaurant that only serves $19 almond butter and avocado toast? I need to know this.

Let’s look first at the projected lines for tonight.

Oh boy.

Toronto Maple Leafs (from morning skate)

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

Not Playing: Josh Leivo, Matt Martin

Defence Pairings

Morgan Rielly - Ron Hainsey
Jake Gardiner - Nikita Zaitsev
Travis Dermott - Roman Polak

Not Playing: Andreas Borgman - Connor Carrick


Starting: Frederik Andersen
Backup: Curtis McElhinney

Anaheim Ducks (recent game)

Forward Lines

Rickard Rakell - Ryan Getzlaf - Jakob Silfverberg
Andrew Cogliano - Ryan Kesler - J.T. Brown
Nick Ritchie - Adam Henrique - Ondrej Kase
Chris Wagner - Antoine Vermette - Corey Perry

Defence Pairings

Hampus Lindholm - Josh Manson
Cam Fowler - Kevin Bieksa
Francois Beauchemin - Brandon Montour


Ryan Miller
Reto Berra

Welcome back, Randy Carlyle. I hope you have access to some peanut butter to satisfy your hunger.

The Ducks main starting goalie is John Gibson, but he is out with an injury. Instead, the Leafs are expected to face Ryan Miller tonight.

Hahaha! Ryan Miller.

Or not. The 37 year old is having one of the best seasons of his 15 year NHL career, currently sitting with a 0.922 all-situations save percentage over 15 games. Note that is even one notch above ex-Ducks net-minder Frederik Andersen who has 0.921.

You may recall that the Leafs won their first match of the season against the Ducks back on November 1. The highlight was when Gibson was pulled late in the third period at the exact moment Komarov started a breakaway forcing Gibson to make this spectacular, though unsuccessful, attempt to return to the net and block the shot.

The Leafs have returned Justin Holl to the Marlies but it looks like Dermott will stick around for now, and may have displaced Andreas Borgman. We will know more when Roman Polak officially returns to the ice tonight. We will update the lines with further news is available.

It’s really hard to call what will happen in this game. These teams see each other so rarely, but it is well documented these teams love to hate each other. The pests like Komarov, Perry, Kadri, and Kessler will no doubt be doing their best to throw the other off-balance in this game. The goalies will be key. If one has an off night, then that’s it for their team.


What will happen tonight?

This poll is closed

  • 40%
    The Leafs will dine on roast duck.
    (149 votes)
  • 17%
    The Leafs will get stuck in a toaster and burned because of course they lose to Carlyle’s new team.
    (63 votes)
  • 17%
    Ryan Kesler will do something dumb.
    (65 votes)
  • 24%
    Jake Gardiner will score because because LOL we fleeced them on that trade.
    (90 votes)
367 votes total Vote Now