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Game Preview: Fight for Life

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Toronto aims to defend home ice to extend the series to the maximum possible length

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Toronto Maple Leafs at Boston Bruins Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

2018 NHL Playoffs Round 1 Toronto vs Boston: Game 6

Time: 7:00 PM ET

Location: Air Canada Centre, Toronto, ON

Broadcast/Streaming: CBC, NBCSN, TVAS, NESN

Opponent SBNation Site: Stanley Cup of Chowder


Toronto Maple Leafs

Forward Lines

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

Matt Martin, Leo Komarov, Josh Leivo, Dominic Moore

Defence Pairings

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

Connor Carrick

Goaltenders

Frederik Andersen
Curtis McElhinney

Boston Bruins

Forward Lines

Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk - David Krejci - Rick Nash
Danton Heinen - Noel Acciari - David Backes
Tim Schaller - Sean Kuraly - Tommy Wingels

Ryan Donato, Brian Gionta

Defence Pairings

Zdeno Chara - Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug - Kevan Miller
Matt Grzelcyk - Adam McQuaid

Nick Holden

Goaltenders

Tuukka Rask
Anton Khudobin


The Leafs were in this situation last year. Down 3-2 to a favoured team, needing to win on home-ice to extend the series to 7. In a tight game, Auston Matthews gave the Leafs a lead in the third period. Unfortunately, it was one they couldn’t defend, as Marcus Johansson scored once in the third, and once in OT to give the Capitals the series win. Afterwards, the fans gave a standing ovation to the players who had vastly exceeded the expectations placed on them by making it that far.

After tonight’s game, we hope there’s a standing ovation for a different reason. After a lopsided first two games, the Leafs have come alive in the series and are playing even with the Bruins. In Game 5, they carried play and generated good chances for most of the first two periods, before turtling with a lead and parading to the box, leaving Freddie Andersen to rescue them, as he’s done so often this season.

The Leafs had desperation on their side on Saturday, and may have it again tonight. The crowd will be fired up, and no Leaf wants to be defeated on home ice for the second year running to end their Cup dreams early. At the same time, the Bruins are not going to quietly concede this game, content to go home for the decider. And as we’ve seen, they can beat the Leafs by dominating them, or by being opportunistic. Both have happened in this series.

Boston has had the more consistent set of lines/pairings this series, which makes sense, as they’ve been leading and on the front foot for most of it. The Leafs, meanwhile, have moved things around tremendously, a testament to their forward depth, and the circumstances that forced them to use it — a suspension to their second best centre and an injury to one of the few wingers the coach trusts defensively. Really, we have no idea how the lines will shake up tonight, but the Game 5 combinations seem a good place to start.

We will update this as information trickles out.

Go Leafs Go!

Version one of today’s lines. Subject to change, of course.