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Preview: Leafs vs. Lightning

Malgin is gone and Järnkrok is back. That means some tweaks to the lines.

2018 Honda NHL All-Star Game - Locker Room Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images

Tampa Bay Lightning @ Toronto Maple Leafs
07:00 PM at Scotiabank Arena
Watch on: TSN4, BSSUNX

Opponent’s Site: Raw Charge

The Leafs last game was an away game on December 17 against the Washington Capitals, which Toronto lost by a score of 5-2. The Leafs have a record of 19-7-6 so far.

The Tampa Bay Lightning last played an away game on December 17 against the Montréal Canadiens. The Lightning won by a score of 5-1, and their current league record is 20-9-1.

Them

The Lightning have won five in a row and eight of their last ten games, but they still sit behind the Leafs in the division rankings, though with two games in hand. They are still the powerhouse, and they still have a terrifying top line. What can stop them? Murray will have to many times, but hopefully the Leafs can contribute by holding off their uncanny ability to adapt to their opponents strategies long enough to earn the win. I recall @loserpoints on Twitter once saying “The Bolts don’t try to make you play their game, they learn your game and then play it better than you do.” We’ve got some experience with that already this season. Here’s hoping the Leafs can also learn to adapt for once.

Lines

Source: Chris Krenn via Daily Faceoff

Brandon Hagel - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov
Steven Stamkos - Nick Paul - Alex Killorn
Patrick Maroon - Anthony Cirelli - Ross Colton
Vladislav Namestnikov - Pierre-Édouard Bellemare - Corey Perry

Victor Hedman - Nicklaus Perbix
Ian Cole - Erik Cernak
Haydn Fleury - Cal Foote

Andrei Vasilevskiy (projected starter)
Brian Elliott (yes he is still alive!)

Us

The aftermath of the Malgin trade looms large today. There is a shakeup in the lines with him gone. Dryden Hunt has not yet arrived though he will wear #20 when he gets here. Järnkrok is back too, playing in his first game since November 30. In other words, up is down, down is up, but the top line is still the top line.

On defence, there was a ray of hope this morning.

Lines

(from yesterday’s practice)

Michael Bunting - Auston Matthews - William Nylander
Calle Järnkrok - John Tavares - Mitch Marner
Alex Kerfoot - David Kämpf - Pierre Engvall
Zach Aston-Reese - Pontus Holmberg - Joey Anderson

Mark Giordano - Justin Holl
Rasmus Sandin - Timothy Liljegren
TJ Brodie - Conor Timmins

Matt Murray (projected starter)
Ilya Samsonov

The Game

Toronto vs Tampa Bay

Toronto Stat Tampa Bay
Toronto Stat Tampa Bay
68.8 - 4th Points % - Ranking 68.3 - 5th
3.219 - 14th Goals/Game - Ranking 3.667 - 3rd
2.438 - 2nd Goals Against/Game - Ranking 2.833 - 11th
23.3 - 13th Power Play% - Ranking 27.4 - 5th
79.6 - 14th Penalty Kill% - Ranking 81.0 - 7th
10.2 - 12th Team Sh% - Ranking 11.6 - 3rd
0.916 - 4th Team Sv% - Ranking 0.907 - 11th
William Nylander - 18 Most Goals (NST) Steven Stamkos, Brayden Point - 16
Mitchell Marner, Auston Matthews - 37 Most Points (NST) Nikita Kucherov - 47
Michael Bunting - 40 Most PIM (NST) Pat Maroon - 49
Morgan Rielly - 23 TOI Leader (NST) Victor Hedman - 24.07

You may recall the the game earlier this month between these two teams where it was a real back and forth slog that wound up going to OT where the Leafs promptly flopped down on the ice for the three-on-three and that weak effort led to a terrible turnover and a Lightning goal which won the game. It would be nice to finish this one in regulation and not have to deal with that at all.