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Preview: Maple Leafs at Dallas Stars

New guys, that one other guy’s brother, but not the other guy’s brother, he’s on IR. The guy, not the brother.

Toronto Maple Leafs v Detroit Red Wings Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Toronto Maple Leafs @ Dallas Stars
08:30 PM at American Airlines Center
Watch on: ESPN+, HULU, SNO

Opponent’s Site: Defending Big D

The Leafs last game was an away game on December 3 against the Tampa Bay Lightning, which Toronto lost by a score of 4-3. The Leafs have a record of 15-5-6 so far.

The Dallas Stars last played at home on December 4 against the Minnesota Wild. The Stars lost by a score of 6-5, and their current league record is 14-6-5.

Them

This is the second Leafs game against the Stars, so we have a good idea of who they are. Toronto beat them 3-2 (a very Leafs this year score) the first time at home by being fairly bad at five-on-five and very good on the power play (a very Leafs this year way to win).

Toronto vs Dallas

Toronto Stat Dallas
Toronto Stat Dallas
69.2 - 4th Points % - Ranking 66.0 - 8th
3.038 - 19th Goals/Game - Ranking 3.92 - 2nd
2.538 - 3rd Goals Against/Game - Ranking 2.8 - 8th
23.8 - 13th Power Play% - Ranking 28.4 - 5th
78.3 - 14th Penalty Kill% - Ranking 83.5 - 4th
9.9 - 16th Team Sh% - Ranking 12.3 - 2nd
0.912 - 7th Team Sv% - Ranking 0.911 - 8th
William Nylander - 14 Most Goals (NST) Jason Robertson - 23
Mitchell Marner - 31 Most Points (NST) Jason Robertson - 41
Michael Bunting - 36 Most PIM (NST) Mason Marchment - 40
Morgan Rielly - 23 TOI Leader (NST) Miro Heiskanen - 25.04

If Dallas were in the east they’d be third in the Atlantic and tied for second in the Metro by Points %. They are first in the Central at the moment. By points projection in the first model that came to hand, they would finish fourth in either division. Obviously if they were in the east, they’d play different teams, and the projections and outcomes would be different, but they are not a first in the division team outside the Central.

Lines

Source: Last Game (12/04) via Daily Faceoff - check the game day post for updates of note.

Jason Robertson - Roope Hintz - Joe Pavelski
Mason Marchment - Radek Faksa - Tyler Seguin
Jamie Benn - Wyatt Johnston - Ty Dellandrea
Joel Kiviranta - Luke Glendening - Denis Gurianov

Ryan Suter - Miro Heiskanen
Esa Lindell - Jani Hakanpaa
Joel Hanley - Colin Miller

Jake Oettinger
Scott Wedgewood

Us

The Leafs are promising two debuts tonight, and also hinting that another return is imminent, but won’t happen tonight. TJ Brodie is almost ready to play again, so look for him next game at home vs the Kings.

Conor Timmins and Semyon Der-Arguchintsev are both set to make their Leafs debut tonight. For Der-Arguchintsev, it’s his NHL debut. He’s been the 2C on the Marlies behind Logan Shaw, who led the AHL in points early on, and he’s been in fine form there all season.

If you remember back to September, he looked like a serious hockey player in preseason, and in the game where the Marlies played the Red Wings prospects, he looked like one of the better players on the ice, so this recall isn’t coming out of nowhere.

Der-Arguchintsev was drafted 76th overall in the 2018 draft, and then very quickly signed to an ELC by Kyle Dubas. As we now know, Dubas is the kind of guy who will acquire two down on their luck goalies, fire the goalie coach and hire a rookie in the offseason where he’s supposed to be “managing for his job” so, in retrospect, that statement contract was small beer.

Last summer, we weren’t so high on Der-Arguchintsev in the Top 25. We all seemed to think he’d hit his ceiling, and it was 2C on the Marlies. If we’re lucky, maybe we were all wrong this time. Tonight will help us to find out. To remind you, Der-Arguchintsev was born on Sept. 15, and so was the youngest player in his draft. He was too young and too small for the “size matters” crowd before Nick Robertson stole his bit. He is only 22. Let that sink in, because it seems like he’s been around forever, perhaps in part because there was so much talk about, not him, but what he represented.

Timmins is also making his debut, and I can’t imagine trying to tell you what to expect from a player with so little NHL time. We’ll all find out together.

David Alter had the lines from practice yesterday:

Lines

Michael Bunting - Auston Matthews - William Nylander
Nick Robertson - John Tavares - Mitch Marner
Alex Kerfoot - David Kämpf - Pierre Engvall
Zach Aston-Reese - Pontus Holmberg - Semyon Der-Arguchintsev

Mark Giordano - Justin Holl
Rasmus Sandin - Timothy Liljegren
Victor Mete - Conor Timmins

Matt Murray - starter
Ilya Samsonov

The Game

Matt Murray did not have his best game against Tampa, and it would be ideal if he rebounded in form. The Leafs haven’t had many games lately where they dominate the other team at five-on-five, although they do often have better results by Expected Goals than by just shotshare. It’s likely too much to ask for deep systemic improvements while over $17 million in defencemen are injured. Conor Timmins might have a slightly bigger pail to bail out the sinking boat with than Mac Hollowell. That’s the level of expectation we should put on him, and the rest is up to him.

Oh, and there’s streaks and stuff like that, but you don’t need me to tell you about that.

Go Leafs Go. You might be close enough to shore to swim for it! Now scroll back up and actually read the start time for this game.