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Game Preview: quick turnaround for an elimination game

We want to be playing on Sunday.

Toronto Maple Leafs v Columbus Blue Jackets
TORONTO, ONTARIO - AUGUST 06: Auston Matthews #34 of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Boone Jenner #38 of the Columbus Blue Jackets battle for the puck during the third period in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Qualification Round prior to the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Arena on August 06, 2020 in Toronto, Ontario.
Photo by Andre Ringuette/Freestyle Photo/Getty Images

Columbus Blue Jackets at Toronto Maple Leafs
Series 1-2
8:00PM ET - Scotiabank Arena, Toronto Bubble
Watch: HNIC, TVA Sports, NHLN, FS-O
Opponents: Jackets Cannon

This game will be available on CBC GEM:

Are you playing, or are you out?

That’s the question tonight.

If the Leafs decide they want to play then they’ll have a pretty good chance to survive another day. If they put in a performance like we saw last night, then it’s through the doors of the Royal York for them. No more bubble hockey for you.

There won’t be a practice for the Leafs tomorrow, but we should get something, anything, from the team during morning skate before the game at 8pm. For now, here’s what Sheldon Keefe and Mitch Marner had to say for themselves after the game last night.

There were two completely different teams on the ice last night. One team that was confident with the puck and eager to push the play forward and to the net. And then a second evil twin that was almost afraid to move their feet and didn’t show any cohesiveness or structure.

I agree with Keefe in that the defense was a wild mess for much of the game. No one should be surprised when it’s comprised of Morgan Rielly, Cody Ceci, Justin Holl, Travis Dermott, Tyson Barrie, and Martin Marincin — the six most “wild mess” defensemen in the NHL. Way too jumpy, way too late on pucks. They make big moves, miss, and then can’t scramble back clean enough to stop the play that’s moved past them. That’s them, that’s their DNA, and it’s been impossible for the Leafs to hide it without complete coverage from the forwards to support.

And as for the forwards, no one seems to like skating the moment the other teams starts playing with the puck. It’s all watching, coasting, and hoping the puck bounces to you so you can fling it off in a random direction because you have no idea where anyone else drifted off to.

Play Frederik Andersen tonight. Play him on Sunday. Play him until he can go back home and chill on a coach until next season.

Some final numbers, the Leafs produced shots at a rate of 62 shot attempts per 60 minutes in Game 1, 71 in Game 2, and 60 in Game 3. Expected goals: 1.87, 4.62, 2.26. The gigantic blob of shooting death in the middle of the Blue Jackets zone disappeared in the second period and never showed up again in Game 3. They were shooting a lot more from the wings on top of the volume going down massively. If the Leafs get pushed to the edges again and have to settle for worse shots, it’s over. Don’t let it be over.

Maple Leafs lines

From Thursday’s Game

Zach HymanAuston MatthewsMitch Marner
William NylanderJohn TavaresIlya Mikheyev
Nick RobertsonAlex KerfootKasperi Kapanen
Kyle CliffordPierre EngvallJason Spezza
Scratched: Andreas JohnssonFrederik Gauthier

Travis DermottJustin Holl
Morgan RiellyCody Ceci
Martin MarincinTyson Barrie
Scratched: Rasmus SandinTimothy Liljegren
Injured: Jake Muzzin

Frederik Andersen
Jack Campbell

Blue Jackets lines

From Thursday’s Game

Alexandre Texier - Pierre-Luc Dubois - Cam Atkinson
Gustav Nyquist - Alex Wennberg - Oliver Bjorkstrand
Nick Foligno - Boone Jenner - Liam Foudy
Eric Robinson - Riley Nash - Emil Bemstrom

Zach Werenski - Seth Jones
Vladislav Gavrikov - David Savard
Ryan Murray - Markus Nutivaara
Scratched: Scott Harrington - Dean Kukan

Joonas Korpisalo
Elvis Merzlikins - Starter

I hope we don’t have to talk about next year this time tomorrow. Because I have a long list of changes I’d like to make and no one wants to hear them.

From today’s media availability with Sheldon Keefe: