Preseason Game 5: Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Montreal Canadiens
Scotiabank Arena, 7:00 PM
A nominally Leafs’ lineup that consisted almost entirely of AHLers went into Montreal and shutout a Habs lineup that was about half real players. That was a lot more fun than subsequent Leafs news.
The lineup slated to play tonight is very close to the anticipated opening night lineup.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Andreas Johnsson - Auston Matthews - William Nylander
Kasperi Kapanen - John Tavares - Mitch Marner
Ilya Mikheyev - Alexander Kerfoot - Trevor Moore
Dmytro Timashov - Jason Spezza - Frederik Gauthier
Morgan Rielly - Cody Ceci
Jake Muzzin - Tyson Barrie
Rasmus Sandin - Martin Marincin
Putting aside that Joseph Woll will be replaced by Michael Hutchinson when things get serious, the only real surprise in this lineup is Dmytro Timashov. Timashov has long been a popular Leafs’ prospect and a gifted playmaker, but it still seems a little surprising that he’d beat out the whole army of Leaf winger candidates, including Kenny Agostino and Nic Petan. I tend to think the coaching staff just wanted to put all the forwards competing for a job in one game to compare them. Still, Timashov is no longer waiver-exempt, so it’s possible the Leafs are taking a hard look at what they have in him.
The more exciting thing is on defence: Rasmus Sandin has impressed enough that he’s got the inside track on a starting job, age and ELC be damned. I don’t know if he’ll get more than his nine game tryout, but he’s definitely outplayed the grab bag of seventh defencemen who played on Monday night. Long may he reign.
We are indebted to TSN’s John Lu for practice lines:
#Habs vs #Leafs:— John Lu (@JohnLuTSNMtl) September 25, 2019
(First 4 lines & 2 pairs likely to play)
Mete - Weber
Kulak - Fleury
Alzner - Reilly
Chiarot - Petry
Ouellet - Folin
Taking John at his word, that means it’s an NHL-ish lineup, but not quite, missing arguably the top line in Max Domi’s (or at least the 1B), the second defence pair in Chiarot-Petry, and the starting goalie. Still, there’s a decent amount of NHL talent present and if the Leafs take the Habs lightly, they will lose. Several of these guys are still fighting for work. If you’re looking for someone to watch, Nick Suzuki is a hot up-and-coming prospect who’s threatening to crack the lineup at age 20.