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Maple Leafs look to end the year with a win

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The hurting Maple Leafs travel to Minnesota to win games and do ranch dressing shots.

Minnesota Wild v Toronto Maple Leafs Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images

The Toronto Maple Leafs are on a roll. Over the past month the Maple Leafs are 8-3-1, and their last regulation loss was on December 12th in Calgary against the Flames. Since then the Leafs have gotten 13 of 14 available points and jumped up the divisional standings to second in the Atlantic - still 10 points back of the Boston Bruins, but ahead of the Lightning, Panthers, Canadiens, and Sabres.

Now the Leafs both begin and end the years on the road, celebrating the end of 2019 in Minnesota, while they will kick off 2020 in Winnipeg on Thursday night. A day long train ride to the black fly capital of the world is just the thing to keep the players from ringing in the New Year with too much enthusiasm.

Toronto Maple Leafs at Minnesota Wild
6PM Toronto - 5PM Local
St. Paulliapolois, MN
Opponent SBN site: I have never thought of them once, ever.

The Leafs are playing well, despite the injuries piling up faster than whatever a stereotype about Minnesota is. Piling up faster than lutefisk containers? I don’t now, the point is the Leafs are down Jake Muzzin (foot), Ilya Mikheyev (wrist), Nathan Horton (back), Andreas Johnsson (leg), Trevor Moore (concussion), and David Clarkson (no talent).

If we stay looking at the bright side, this is a bonus to younger players and AHL vets. Martin Marincin got to play in the last game after being yo-yo’d between the Marlies and Leafs. Adam Brooks made his NHL debut and now will get the chance to play in his hometown of Winnipeg on Thursday night (unless he’s benched for a big game for no apparent reason). One of the off-season signings is even getting a taste of the NHL road trip experience as Teemu Kivihalme has been called up from the Marlies to be the seventh defender.

Toronto Maple Leafs lines

From previous game

Alex Kerfoot - John Tavares - William Nylander
Zach Hyman - Auston Matthews - Mitchell Marner
Pierre Engvall - Jason Spezza - Kasperi Kapanen
Dmytro Timashov - Frederik Gauthier - Adam Brooks

Morgan Rielly - Tyson Barrie
Martin Marincin - Justin Holl
Travis Dermott - Cody Ceci

Frederik Andersen
Michael Hutchinson

Things went generally well against the Rangers - it was a typical Leafs game with chasing leads and the what not - so I wouldn’t expect a lot of big changes.

Minnesota Wild lines

Ryan Donato - Eric Staal - Mats Zuccarello
Zach Parise - Mikko Koivu - Kevin Fiala
Jordan Greenway - Joel Eriksson Ek - Luke Kunin
Marcus Foligno - Victor Rask - Ryan Hartman

Ryan Suter - Jared Spurgeon
Jonas Brodin - Carson Soucy
Brad Hunt - Mathew Dumba

Devan Dubnyk
Alex Stalock

The Wild’s December has been just as good as the Leafs, going 9-3-1 overall and most recently going 4-1 in their last five and scoring 24 goals in those five games. We should be looking at a good high octane game from these two teams.

Mikko Koivu is a game-time decision as he hasn’t played since the beginning of the month, but what’s the perfect time to burst back onto the scene then against the Maple Leafs?

Preview Stats

Leafs Team Sharks
Leafs Team Sharks
2-1-1 Record 3-0-0
8GF - 7GA - +1 Goal Differential 11GF - 4GA - +7
21.4% - 13th Power Play 41.7% - 3rd
84.6% - 11th Penalty Kill 100% - 1st
Nylander / Bunting - 2 Most Goals Labanc / Dahlen - 2
Morgan Rielly - 3 Most Assists Karlsson / Meier - 4
William Nylander - 4 Most Points Karlsson / Meier - 5
Muzzin / Tavares / Engvall - 4 Most PM Jacob Middleton - 5
Morgan Rielly - 24:56 TOI Leader Brent Burns - 26:48/G
Michael Hutchinson - N/A Starting Goalie Adin Hill - .932sv%

It’s going to be a fun night tonight, with the game starting extra early so you can celebrate the new year in whichever way you like. I’m going to my first OHL game of the season, and then playing quiplash and passing out by 11.

Happy New Year everyone and Go Leafs Go!