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Toronto Maple Leafs preseason game two preview

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Return of the King.

NHL: MAR 30 Leafs at Senators
OTTAWA, ON - MARCH 30: Toronto Maple Leafs Right Wing William Nylander (29) stick handles the puck during the first period of the NHL game between the Ottawa Senators and the Toronto Maple Leafs on March 30, 2019 at the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
Photo by Steven Kingsman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Toronto Maple Leafs at Ottawa Senators
Canadian Tire Fire Centre, Kanata - 7:30PM ET
TV: TSN4 - Radio: TSN1050/Sportsnet590
Opponent Site: Silver Seven Sens

The Maple Leafs are doomed. They lost game one of the preseason to the ghost of Eugene Melnyk and have lost all credibility. Luckily for them, they get to do it all over again tonight in their second home away from home!

After noted franchise player Pierre Engvall and his band of Marlies men couldn’t scratch out a win over what could possibly have been Ottawa’s starting NHL lineup, Ilya Mikheyev and his team try again versus a similarly quality roster.

All jokes aside, if we lose this one, we riot.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Here’s what the lineup for tonight’s game looks like from Toronto’s end.

Forwards

Andreas Johnsson - Auston Matthews - William Nylander (Geee1!!!!!!!)
Ilya Mikheyev - Alexander Kerfoot - Nic Petan
Kenny Agostino - Tyler Gaudet - Matt Read
Pontus Aberg - Kalle Kossila - Nick Shore
Colt Conrad - Rich Clune

Defense

Morgan Rielly - Cody Ceci
Ben Harpur - Rasmus Sandin
Teemu Kivihalme - Timothy Liljegren
Kristians Rubins - Mac Hollowell

Goalies

Michael Hutchinson
Brandon Halverson

Quickly running down the lines, it’s so good to see Matthews and Nylander back on a line together. The Lost Season seemed to take a hit to both their point production so having them back together with third wheeler Johnsson should be a dynamic and overwhelming top line.

This second line looks like what the third line will look like once the season starts (until Zach Hyman returns). This will be our first chance to see the highly anticipated Mikheyev in an NHL lineup so a lot of eyes will be on him. Same goes for Nic Petan, who seemed to become a ghost after his five games with the Leafs last year. So far, he’s their first choice to move up in the lineup.

Babcock threw all his fringe veterans who could squeak onto a roster together on the third and fourth lines and said something along the lines of “we’re having tryouts.” I have no idea where the Leafs expect to fit all these guys (don’t say Marlies) unless they expect to lose some percentage of them to season-opening waivers. I guess the more the merry.

Conrad and Clune are both hunting for icetime in the AHL and most of their work will likely come in AHL camp. Currently they’re not confirmed to play just yet.

The top pair is going to be one of the two top pairs this season. Early indications are that Rielly-Ceci will play with Matthews a lot as a five-man unit, with Muzzin-Barrie creating a unit with Tavares’ line.

I don’t think the Leafs see their defense tryouts as something that includes pair chemistry, at least for the fringe guys. The set up they’ve seen to go with includes putting the players in a role (defense guy with an offense guy) and seeing if they can play that role. Sandin is not a right-handed defenseman and likely won’t be stapled to that side when working breakouts. I’m curious to know which of Kivihalme or Liljegren is the puck mover on their pair. the last pair looks like the Marlies’ fourth pair with both Rubins and Hollowell hunting for icetime.

Don’t expect Sandin or Liljegren to make the NHL right out of camp (they don’t have the cap space), but this should be good work experience nonetheless.

Ottawa Senators

The Sens are starting Craig Anderson in net behind the 2018-19 Disappointing Maple Leafs. Tyler Ennis, Connor Brown, Michael Carcone, and Ron Hainsey, will all be in the lineup tonight. Unfortunately, Nikita Zaitsev is not expected to play for an undisclosed reason. Lines coming shortly but expect Brown on the first line. It’s like they’re giving Matthews a present for his captaincy* announcement! Boy, this should be fun.