Toronto Maple Leafs at Columbus Blue Jackets: 7:00 p.m.
Watch on: Fox Sports - Ohio, TSN4
Opponent’s site: Jackets Cannon
Every year, as summer rolls along and teams sign players, make trades, etc., there’s always one or two teams that I just can’t figure out what they’re doing. Columbus is this year’s mystery for me. Maybe it’s simple and they just lost big on last year’s gamble at the trade deadline and now they’re coasting to a good draft pick, but that doesn’t feel quite right.
They feel like they’ve pressed pause. They are bringing some young players up into big roles, so they aren’t really a tank and rebuild team, exactly, but they feel like it. They didn’t sell anyone off, they didn’t add anyone either. They look paralyzed.
Sometimes doing nothing is the smart play, and if nothing else, they’re doing that thing most teams are afraid to do — genuinely figuring out their goaltending prospects in real life trials, none of this good in the AHL stuff.
Meanwhile, the Leafs who came out scattered against the Senators in game one have to sit through another opening ceremony, this one involving cannons. They need to shake that off fast and get to the way they played the second period on Wednesday sooner than the second period tonight.
Moneypuck has the chance of winning at 51.8% for the Leafs. Given that home ice gives a team around two percentage points in most models, that’s a significant statement of the quality gap. Of course, no model can really judge a goalie like Joonas Korpisalo with less than 60 NHL games played over three years. So who knows what we’ll see.
Maple Leafs Lines
Andreas Johnsson - Auston Matthews - William Nylander
Kasperi Kapanen - John Tavares - Mitch Marner
Ilya Mikheyev - Alexander Kerfoot - Trevor Moore
Nic Petan - Jason Spezza - Frederik Gauthier
Morgan Rielly - Cody Ceci
Jake Muzzin - Tyson Barrie
Rasmus Sandin - Justin Holl
Blue Jackets Lines
Latest update at Daily Faceoff
Alexandre Texier - Pierre Luc Dubois - Cam Atkinson
Nick Foligno - Boone Jenner - Josh Anderson
Gustav Nyquist - Alexander Wennberg - Oliver Bjorkstrand
Jakob Lilja - Riley Nash - Emil Bemstrom
Ryan Murray - Seth Jones
Zach Werenski - David Savard
Scott Harrington - Markus Nutivaara
The promised rotation on the fourth line for the Leafs is underway with Nic Petan called up and in for Dmytro Timashov, and Jason Spezza swapping in for Nick Shore. Justin Holl comes in for Martin Marincin, and Frederik Andersen will get the start.
The Leafs need to see a much more coherent power play right away — assuming those chances in the first game weren’t the last power plays they’ll get all year. Other than that, this is still the acclimatization period for the whole lineup, and particularly for the depth players who aren’t sure they are staying on this team for very long.
This is a bit of a test, as the Blue Jackets are actually the team that is best set up to beat the Bolts or the Leafs. Even with their big scoring guns gone and a rookie in net, they should keep the Leafs to fewer goals than the Senators allowed, but they make you actually play the games outside the simulations for a reason.
If these lines hold, the Blue Jackets broke up the super D pair of Werenski and Jones from earlier practices. Which could be an attempt to counter the rolling of the Leafs lines. It might help.
That’s all for now, if there’s any news, we’ll update, you. Until then:
Go Leafs Go! Silence the Cannon.