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Leafs at Blue Jackets: Rebounding with Russian Bear

Lots of lineup changes on defense

Montreal Canadiens v Toronto Maple Leafs
Toronto, ON - OCTOBER 13: Jake Muzzin #8 of the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrates with teammates Jack Campbell #36 and Justin Holl #3 at the Scotiabank Arena on October 13, 2021 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Photo by Kevin Sousa/NHLI via Getty Images

Toronto Maple Leafs @ Columbus Blue Jackets: Game #50

7:00 p.m. ET at Nationwide Arena
TV/Streaming: SN Ontario
Opponent’s SB Nation Site: Jackets Cannon

There has been a lot of annoyance with the Toronto Maple Leafs in recent days as the team have lost two games in a row, whilst not exactly making those competitive. As always, there’s in-fighting between the “chill” crowd and “I’m upset” crowd, and like all things, both are right and both are not.

The Leafs are a great team this year and there’s not much to “worry” about when it comes to how this team is constructed. Theoretically, there’s no glaring weaknesses. On the flip side, the Leafs have underperformed recently and are giving plenty of reasons to not feel overly optimistic.

Both goalies have struggled for large parts of this season. Is it an area that needs to be addressed? People can disagree on that. The forwards have been great this year, but the second line is in a slump. Is there something that can be done about it? Nothing significant internally, but that’s a discussion for the trade deadline. The defense has been a battle for everyone barring Rielly, Brodie, and Sandin. Muzzin has faced loud criticism when he’s not recovering from massive head injuries, Liljegren hasn’t been great, people are sick and tired of Holl, and Dermott has played himself completely out of the picture.

All of these are significant, but also problems that have fixed themselves in the past. Realistically Muzzin isn’t washed, and he’s shown heart working back from multiple injuries. I hope he can do it again. Getting some saves would help him and Holl a lot. Tavares getting some bounces would, too.

And the man to fix all those problems will be in the lineup tonight in the form of Martin Mar Ilya Lyubushkin, aka “The Russian Bear,” or “Boosh.”

Jake Muzzin (probable concussion) is out indefinitely as he travelled back to Toronto today after spending last night in a Montreal hospital. Justin Holl is also out tonight as a healthy scratch. Rasmus Sandin, who was out due to a cacophony of legal and salary cap implications, will be in as well. I think he was also scratched so Travis Dermott could get a rep, but no one’s confirmed that.

So, this will be some more life without Muzzin-Holl, for no against a pretty weak opponent in the Blue Jackets after a night of getting kicked in the pants for sleeping in. It’s going to be pretty hard to look bad in this game, but I’m sure someone will.

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 - Ilya Lyubushkin
Travis Dermott - Timothy Liljegren
OUT: Jake Muzzin (injured), Justin Holl (scratched)

Goalies

Jack Campbell - confirmed starter
Petr Mrázek

*pairs unconfirmed

Blue Jackets Lineup

Forwards

Patrik Laine - Boone Jenner - Oliver Bjorkstrand
Jakub Voracek - Cole Sillinger - Yegor Chinakhov
Gustav Nyquist - Sean Kuraly - Max Domi
Brendan Gaunce - Jack Roslovic - Justin Danforth
OUT: Alexandre Texier (hand), Eric Robinson (lower body), Emil Bemstrom (scratched)

Defense

Zach Werenski - Andrew Peeke
Vladislav Gavrikov - Adam Boqvist
Gavin Bayreuther - Dean Kukan
OUT: Jake Bean (lower body), Gabriel Carlsson (scratched)

Goalies

Jean-Francois Berube
Jet Greaves
OUT: Elvis Merzlikins (lower body), Joonas Korpisalo (lower body), Daniil Tarasov (lower body)