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Toronto Maple Leafs preview: Nashville hot Predators is on the menu

See, because the Predators are in first place, and hot chicken is a popular dish and...oh whatever.

Jonas Hoglund #14...

Previously on Maple Leafs versus Predators.....

James van Riemsdyk scored the first and last goal of a 3-2 shootout win over Nashville. Frederik Andersen made 44 saves. The shootout went seven rounds. The Maple Leafs were out-played. The Predators acted like a team who just went to the Stanley Cup final.

Now, the ongoing story of East vs West.....

Toronto Maple Leafs at Nashville Predators
8:00PM - Bridgestone Arena
Watch: TVA Sports, Sportsnet Ontario, Fox Sports Tennessee, NHL Live, Sportsnet NOW
Listen: Leafs Radio Network, Sportsnet590 (¯\_(ツ)_/¯ which one)
SBN: On the Forecheck

After an embarrassing loss to the Sabres, the Leafs went on to beat the Penguins, Stars, Sabres, and Canadiens before falling to the Lightning. Now, after giving up after two periods and dropping a 3-0 lead, the Leafs find themselves slightly more north of Tampa Bay, in the town they call Smashville, to take on the first-overall Predators.

Nashville’s record lately has been similar to the Leafs. They also beat bottom feeders like the Coyotes and Sabres and beat strong teams like the Jets*. The difference is they didn’t lose against a bottom feeder. In fact, they haven’t lost outside of a shootout to New Jersey since...oh crap...February 17th against the Red Wings. Oh, well okay they did lose to a bottom feeder last month anyway. So that’s 14 wins in their past 15, with the only loss being in a shootout.

Well Crap. I guess having four 1D will do that.

Toronto Maple Leafs lines

Zach Hyman - Auston Matthews - William Nylander
Patrick Marleau - Nazem Kadri - Mitchell Marner
James van Riemsdyk - Tyler Bozak - Connor Brown
Andreas Johnsson - Tomas Plekanec - Kasperi Kapanen

The usual faces in the line up, and Johnsson is still getting that extra time in the NHL as Josh Leivo and Matt Martin continue to take up space in the press box that a certain internet newspaper writer would like to have so he can go see a Leafs game and come on guys I can’t buy tickets I just got off 5 months of unemployment! [Breathes in]

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

Same old D. It’s a tough opponent so it’s Polak > Connor Carrick as usual.

Federik Andersen
Curtis McElhinney

It’s not game two of a back to back so of course Freddie is in.

Nashville Predators lines

Filip Forsbeg - Ryan Johnsen - Viktor Arvidsson
Kevin Fiala - Kyle Turris - Craig Smith
Colton Scissons - Nick Bonino - Ryan Hartman
Scott Hartnell - Mike Fisher - Miikka Salomaki

How’s Martin Erat working out for you Washington? lol

Roman Josi - Anthony Bitteto
Mattais Ekholm - Ryan Ellis
Alexei Emelin - PK Subban

Oh, well, see now I can’t laugh at Washington because there’s Roman ‘Taken with the pick the Leafs traded for Yanic Perreault’ Josi. Oh yeah, the Leafs helped build this Nashville team.

Pekka Rinne
Juuse Saros

Rinne should get the start, and it’s going to be tough going up against a goalie most people are talking about when mentioning Vezina candidates.

Numbers Preview

Maple Leafs Team Devils
Maple Leafs Team Devils
265GF - 226GA - +29 Goal Differential 238GF - 234GA - +4
24.4% - 2nd overall Power Play 21.7 - 10th overall
81.3% - 12th overall Penalty Kill 81.9% - 7th overall
James van Riemsdyk - 36 Most Goals Taylor Hall - 39
Mitch Marner - 47 Most Assists Taylor Hall - 54
Mitch Marner - 69 Most Points Taylor Hall - 93
Matt Martin - 50 Most PM Miles Wood - 84
Jake Gardiner - 22:33/G TOI Leader Sami Vatanen - 22:42
Frederik Andersen - .917sv% Starting Goalie Keith Kincaid - .911sv%

So. It’s quite the challenge for the Maple Leafs, but they’ll have to get used to playing a team like this. The Predators may be the very team they face off against in the Stanley Cup Finals.

It’s a laterish game tonight, so don’t have too many cold ones during the game, lest you fall asleep before 10. Don’t laugh, we’re not all young.

And as always: Go Leafs Go!