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Preview: Maple Leafs face the injury-hampered Canucks

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In a disaster for the Canucks’ hopes tonight, Josh Leivo is on IR.

Vancouver Canucks v New Jersey Devils Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Vancouver Canucks vs Toronto Maple Leafs: game 41

Time: 7:00 p.m.

Location: Not where the WJC gold medal game is being played, that’s for sure

Broadcast/Streaming: HNIC on CBC, cbc.ca, Sportsnet Ontario, Sportsnet West, Sportsnet Pacific

Opponent SBNation Site: Nucks Misconduct

The Vancouver Canucks are in tough on their WJC road trip as they face the Leafs while the gold medal game is going on back home. We had hoped it would be a Canada-Sweden game that would compete for our attention, but instead it’s USA-Finland.

The Canucks are 6-4-0 in their last ten games, but they were just shut out by the Habs, so they want a win. They’re short their key forward in Josh Leivo who is on IR after notching four goals and one assist in 14 games. Hmmm. I wonder what his shooting perc—nevermind, one doesn’t ask that question about Canucks forwards.

The Canucks really are mad and loaded for eastern bear, though. They really want French bear, but they’ll settle for the Leafs. Habs star Jesperi Kotkaniemi took out Canucks star Elias Pettersson in their game Thursday, and everyone frothed over at the lack of even a penalty call:

My take is: I’d call a penalty, but I wouldn’t light the torch and get the pitchfork over it. However, Pettersson is the Vancouver offence. This is a huge blow to a team that hasn’t got much to fall back on.

You can see his nametag just inching over into good territory along with small sample size man and frequent linemate, Josh Leivo. Sam Gagner, though, he looks like he plays for a different team. Another small sample size, if I’m being serious for a second, but holy crap his shot maps look good. Leivo’s look like what you get when you play a basic-level winger with a very good centre on a really bad team.

Maple Leafs

Forward Lines

Andreas Johnsson - Auston Matthews - Kasperi Kapanen
Connor Brown - John Tavares - Mitch Marner
Patrick Marleau - Nazem Kadri - William Nylander
Par Lindholm - Frederik Gauthier - Trevor Moore

Defence Pairings

Morgan Rielly - Ron Hainsey
Jake Gardiner - Nikita Zaitsev
Travis Dermott - Igor Ozhiganov

Goaltenders

Michael Hutchinson
Kasimir Kaskisuo

Vancouver Canucks

Lines from their last game, and obviously they will need to mix things up a little.

Forward Lines

Antoine Roussel - Bo Horvat - Loui Eriksson
Sven Baertschi - the big hole where Pettersson was - Brock Boeser
Markus Granlund - Brandon Sutter - Jake Virtanen
Tim Schaller - Jay Beagle - Tyler Motte

Defence Pairings

Alexander Edler - Chris Tanev
Ben Hutton - Erik Gudbranson
Michael Del Zotto - Troy Stecher

Goaltenders

Jacob Markstrom
Thatcher Demko


Okay, so you think the Leafs goalie situation is bad? The Vancouver Canucks, who have lost so many players on waivers it’s actually very funny, traded to Ottawa the loser of the tandem goalie competition they’ve been running.

This started out as a smart plan. They had two ‘good enough’ goalies, and needed only a placeholder while Demko grows up. They waited a few months to decide who to deal off, and they did. That part was mostly fine. Anders Nilsson went to Ottawa for Mike McKenna. There was some other stuff in the trade, but the point for Vancouver was they needed an AHL guy to allow them to call up Demko and let him drive the tank for the rest of the season. I say tank, but the Canucks are in the Pacific, so that roster is almost in a playoff spot.

Just one problem.

McKenna, who the Senators signed to a one-year deal to be their AHL goalie after he rode all the way to the Calder Cup final with the Texas Stars (we know how that ended), had been called up to the NHL because Craig Anderson is hurt. He’d been up so long that he needed to clear waivers to go to the AHL.

You know where this is going.

Jim Benning traded for an AHL goalie (got one of the best) and lost him the very next day on waivers to the goalie hell mouth in Philadelphia.

Meanwhile, the Leafs merely have one minor injury to Frederik Andersen and one concussion for Garret Sparks of unknown severity (although he did get in some work on the ice today). That seems simple in comparison. So Michael Hutchinson is starting today, and Kaskisuo, fresh off a one day trip to the AHL is the backup. He didn’t sit around while he was with the Marlies, he got in a nice win over the B-Devils.

The assumption is Markstrom will get the start, although Demko vs Hutchinson would be a fun AHL matchup.

If you’re looking for hockey earlier today, try a CWHL game. The Furies are on Sportsnet:

We’ll add any updates as they become available, in the meantime: Go Finland Go!