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Preview: Nashville Predators @ Toronto Maple Leafs

The Smashville show comes to town, Auston Matthews is out, Bobby McMann is in

NHL All-Star Winter Park Nashville 2016 - Day 1 Photo by Frederick Breedon IV/Getty Images

Nashville Predators @ Toronto Maple Leafs
07:30 PM at Scotiabank Arena
Watch on: TNT, TVAS, SN

Opponent’s Site: On the Forecheck

The Leafs last game was an away game on January 8 against the Philadelphia Flyers, which Toronto won by a score of 6-2. The Leafs have a record of 25-9-7 so far.

The Nashville Predators last played an away game on January 9 against the Ottawa Senators. The Predators won by a score of 3-0, and their current league record is 19-14-6.

Toronto vs Nashville

Toronto Stat Nashville
Toronto Stat Nashville
69.5 - 2nd Points % - Ranking 56.4 - 15th
3.439 - 7th Goals/Game - Ranking 2.795 - 26th
2.61 - 3rd Goals Against/Game - Ranking 2.923 - 14th
25.0 - 7th Power Play% - Ranking 17.3 - 28th
78.6 - 17th Penalty Kill% - Ranking 80.2 - 13th
10.9 - 7th Team Sh% - Ranking 9.1 - 24th
0.908 - 9th Team Sv% - Ranking 0.915 - 3rd
William Nylander - 22 Most Goals (NST) Filip Forsberg - 16
Mitchell Marner - 49 Most Points (NST) Filip Forsberg - 36
Michael Bunting - 50 Most PIM (NST) Jeremy Lauzon - 49
Morgan Rielly - 22.61 TOI Leader (NST) Roman Josi - 25.11

Them

They’re hot. That is what we know about them. With 11 points in their last six games, the Predators are on the move.

Their top players are playing like their top players. Forsberg has seven goals in his last seven games. He had a hat-trick against Vegas on New Years Eve.

There you go.

Roman Josi is still their stud on the backend and he is having a fine season. He scored in their most recent game to bring his total to 10 on the year. He has 32 points in 39 games. While it still falls short of the combined 12 from Leaf defensemen, I guess it isn’t bad.

And then there is Juuse Saros. He’s a 5’11” goalie. He doesn’t suck. Last Thursday he made 64 saves against Carolina. Then he posted a shutout against the Sens this past Monday. I would guess he will be the starter against Toronto.

The story is generically the same with Nashville though. Where do the rest of the goals come from? Good thing they have some youth in Eeli Tolvanen who has been maturing in their system the last few years. Oh right, he was waived and ended up in Seattle. Sorry, just wanted to work that bit in. They’ve scored an average of 4.5 per night over the aforementioned six game point streak, so hopefully that doesn’t blow up in my face.

Lines

Last Game (01/09) via Daily Faceoff

Filip Forsberg - Juuso Pärssinen - Colton Sissons
Mark Jankowski - Ryan Johansen - Matt Duchene
Nino Niederreiter - Cody Glass - Mikael Granlund
Yakov Trenin - Thomas Novak - Tanner Jeannot

Ryan McDonagh - Roman Josi
Mattias Ekholm - Alexandre Carrier
Jeremy Lauzon - Dante Fabbro

Juuse Saros*
Kevin Lankinen

* - expected starter

Us

Auston Matthews is out. The maintenance day yesterday was to be feared after all. If there are any questions remaining, just have him rest until whatever it is no longer persists. Keefe commented a bit further:

Rest and relax big guy.

TJ Brodie will also be taking some time off as he was assigned to IR with a reported rib injury. That should provide Timmins a chance to stay in the lineup.

Engvall is slotted on the top line, taking the right wing spot vacated by Nylander, who moved to center in place of Matthews. Bobby McMann was brought up from the Marlies to fill the Engvall void. McMann will wear #74 tonight. This will be a first for the Leafs organization. It’s also the same as goalie Juuse Saros. That means something?

I know it doesn’t makes for an optimal line-up or give the team the best chance to win, but it does make it more interesting to me. This is my threshold though. I don’t want things to get more interesting than they already are, nor do I want this to last.

After picking up both wins on the weekend, the Leafs seem to be playing a more thorough game, limiting mistakes and getting pressure on their opponent. Let’s hope they can maintain that level of execution and cover the hole made by #34.

Lines

Michael Bunting - William Nylander - Pierre Engvall
Calle Järnkrok - John Tavares - Mitch Marner
Alex Kerfoot - David Kämpf - Bobby McMann
Zach Aston-Reese - Pontus Holmberg - Dryden Hunt

Morgan Rielly - Justin Holl
Mark Giordano - Conor Timmins
Rasmus Sandin - Timothy Liljegren

Matt Murray - Starter
Ilya Samsonov

The Game

I like this game for the Leafs tonight. They need to play against some teams who will keep them honest. Nashville is playing well and fits that bill. Toronto shouldn’t have a problem getting up for this one.

I’m not sure what it is, but I always enjoy getting to watch the Leafs play against the West. Maybe it’s Nashville; they’ve always held a soft spot with me. Same goes for GM Dave Poile. I like them. They’re worthy. It will feel good winning against them.

Here is to taking care of business tonight and looking like a contender in spite of key absences. Time for the other stars to take the spotlight.