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Leafs vs. Devils Preview: Sandin!

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Our star prospect is back in the NHL, hoping to steady a damaged defence group.

Toronto Maple Leafs v New Jersey Devils Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Toronto Maple Leafs vs. New Jersey Devils: 7:00 PM

Watch On: Sportsnet

Opponent’s Site: All About The Jersey

After a day to reflect on a gong-show loss to the Florida Panthers and a night to contemplate the eight-week loss of Morgan Rielly, the Leafs play host to a team that could tell them a thing or two about disappointment this year: the New Jersey Devils.

I was gonna post Enter Sandman as the song for this preview, but everyone’s done that joke already and I’m more of a post-punk kinda guy. So in honour of our rebuilding opponents: The Devil In His Youth.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Forwards

Zach Hyman - Auston Matthews - Mitch Marner

Alexander Kerfoot - John Tavares - William Nylander

Andreas Johnsson - Pierre Engvall - Kasperi Kapanen

Frederik Gauthier - Adam Brooks - Jason Spezza

Defenceman

Travis Dermott - Justin Holl

Martin Marincin - Tyson Barrie

Rasmus Sandin - Cody Ceci

Goaltenders

Frederik Andersen

Michael Hutchinson

Needless to say, all eyes are on that tattered defence group. In the last year and a half, Rasmus Sandin has had a rapid ascent from “guy we’re not sure we should have taken over Joe Veleno” to “arguably the best defence prospect this team has had since Morgan Rielly.” It’s not his first NHL game; as you may remember, he briefly made the team out of camp. But the dire state of the defence suggests he’s going to have to shoulder a heavy load pretty quickly—and possibly as soon as tonight, even if he’s nominally on the third pair. And, uh, playing with Cody Ceci. Good luck out there, kid.

Freddie Andersen will be hoping to rebound from a frankly awful game against the Panthers. His forwards will, uh, hopefully outscore their problems.

New Jersey Devils

Forwards

Pavel Zacha - Nico Hischier - Jesper Bratt

Blake Coleman - Travis Zajac - Nikita Gusev

Miles Wood - Jack Hughes - Wayne Simmonds

Jesper Boqvist - Kevin Rooney - John Hayden

Defence

Andy Greene - PK Subban

Damon Severson - Sami Vatanen

Will Butcher - Connor Carrick

Goaltenders

Louis Domingue

Cory Schneider

A season that began with high hopes for the Devils has gone down in flames. They traded their best player, forward Taylor Hall, to the Arizona Coyotes for a return of futures; they fired their coach John Hynes and replaced him with interim HC Alain Nasreddine; and late Sunday night, the axe fell on general manager Ray Shero.

The thing about the Devils is that they do have names. PK Subban is having a down year, but he was a 1D not too long ago (I have to assume, though, the Devils are considering trading him.) Nico Hischier is legit a very good young player, and Jack Hughes’ rookie season looks just fine when you remember how rare it actually is for 18-year-olds to be impact NHL players. Still, though, the Devils are currently pretty bad at basically everything; they don’t have enough scoring, they’re bad defensively, their goaltending is mostly hoping the currently-injured Mackenzie Blackwood gets better and hoping Cory Schneider returns from the dead. I won’t lie, I thought the Devils would be a bubble team if they got goaltending; they have not gotten good enough goaltending but they’ve also just straight-up failed up and down the lineup.

Nevertheless, there are no easy nights in the NHL; ask the first-place Washington Capitals, who somehow lost 5-1 on Saturday to these same Devils. And the Leafs have had a habit of making opposing offences look good lately. Let’s hope that’s not the case tonight.

Go Leafs Go!