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New Jersey at Toronto and Toronto at New Jersey

It’s a home-and-home to start the week

Toronto Maple Leafs VS New Jersey Devils
TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 16: New Jersey Devils defenseman Damon Severson (28) looks to control the puck as Toronto Maple Leafs center Mitchell Marner (16) tries to catch up. Toronto Maple Leafs VS New Jersey Devils during 2nd period action in NHL regular season play at the Air Canada Centre. Toronto Star/Rick Madonik
Rick Madonik/Toronto Star via Getty Images

New Jersey Devils @ Toronto Maple Leafs: Game #42

7:30 p.m. ET at Scotiabank Arena, Monday
TV/Streaming: SNO, SNE, MSG
Opponent’s SB Nation Site: All About The Jersey

And

Toronto Maple Leafs @ New Jersey Devils Game #43

7:00 p.m. ET at Prudential Center, Tuesday
TV/Streaming: TSN4, MSG+
Opponent’s SB Nation Site: All About The Jersey

My last preview was the game where Sheldon Keefe first tried his three-line approach. After two games, he’s back to the logical top-six, bottom-six forward arrangement starting tonight. I can see the merits of trying to spread out the offense to make three lines that are hard to beat. Unfortunately, the Leafs don’t have the breadth of talent to make it work — namely because they spent half their money on their stars.

When you spend so much on those stars, the best course of action is play them hard and play them together. Be overwhelming. I don’t think the Leafs were very overwhelming in the three-line arrangement. Only on the power play against Anaheim and in the third period in Detroit when Keefe shortened his bench did those attributes of the Leafs come out.

If the Leafs were the Florida Panthers, who have lesser stars who make less, but there are more talented players to mix and match, then this idea would work great. But when it comes to beating the Panthers or Tampa Bay or Boston, the Leafs are at their best when they’re overwhelming. Last year they were without Tavares, and Marner was a shadow of himself, so things didn’t work out. This time, all four guys need to bring their A game.

The New Jersey Devils are a long way away from being one of the Leafs playoff rivals. They’re without Dougie Hamilton, who is practicing in a no-contact jersey from a broken jaw. They are also without head coach Lindy Ruff, who is absent from the team for the next two games due to the passing of his father. Condolences from Leafs Nation.

So for the time being, Damon Severson and Jonas Siegenthaler are the top pair for the Devils. We all know how I feel about Severson (for those not in the know, I feel he would look great in blue and white), and he’s had a good run of late with the team as he’s increased his role and seen some power play time. He has a power play goal and five power play points in his last five games, showing that he can play that role. Hopefully it doesn’t make it harder to pry him away from the Devils.

21-year-old goalie Akira Schmid is making his fourth start of the season tonight against the Leafs. He was in the USHL last year and has a .824 in the NHL so far. Poor kid, they’re just throwing him to the wolves from Arizona, Calgary, and Toronto. Schmid was a fifth round pick in 2018.

The Devils also have a pair of former Leafs on the roster in Andreas Johnsson and Jimmy Vesey. Both left wingers were top-six experiments, but both fell out of the role. They have also fallen out of the top six on the last place Devils. Probably goes to show what the Leafs actually were trying to make work.

Back to the Leafs, they’re back to their normal lineup. Jake Muzzin is not going to play in the next two games as he takes “a step back” in his timeline. I think they tried to get him ready for these games, but once they realized it would be pushing it, they chose to let him rest for another week. I am on team Don’t Rush Muzzin.

Leafs Lineup

Forwards

Michael Bunting - Auston Matthews - Mitch Marner
Alex Kerfoot - John Tavares - William Nylander
Ilya Mikheyev - David Kämpf - Ondřej Kaše
Pierre Engvall - Jason Spezza - Wayne Simmonds

Defense

Morgan Rielly - TJ Brodie
Rasmus Sandin - Justin Holl
Travis Dermott - Timothy Liljegren
OUT: Jake Muzzin (injured)

Goalies

Jack Campbell - confirmed for Monday
Petr Mrázek - confirmed for Tuesday

Devils Lineup

Forwards

Pavel Zacha - Nico Hischier - Nathan Bastian
Yegor Sharangovich - Jack Hughes - Jesper Bratt
Andreas Johnsson - Dawson Mercer - Tomas Tatar
Jimmy Vesey - Jesper Boqvist - Janne Kuokkanen
OUT: Michael McLeod (injured), Miles Wood (injured)

Defense

Jonas Siegenthaler - Damon Severson
Ryan Graves - PK Subban
Ty Smith - Colton White
OUT: Dougie Hamilton (injured)

Goalies

Akira Schmid - confirmed for Monday
Sean Gillies - confirmed for Tuesday
OUT: Jonathan Bernier (injured), MacKenzie Blackwood (injured)


Note: were going back to the old posting style for this back-to-back. We’ll have Game Day Thread posts up tonight and then tomorrow closer to gametime.