Anaheim Ducks @ Toronto Maple Leafs: Game #39
7:00 p.m. ET at Scotiabank Arena
TV/Streaming: SNO, SNE, SNP, SN360

An underrated storyline of the new forward lines is that Justin Holl is back in the lineup after a bout with COVID-19. After a few games of Sandin and Liljegren together, Liljegren goes back to the third pair with Holl playing next to Sandin tonight. Let’s see how that goes.

I’m curious to see how Holl does with Sandin on the second pair tonight, because Holl’s performance over this next month will influence to some degree what the Leafs will do at the trade deadline. If Holl plays well even without Muzzin, one could argue most incoming defensemen would have marginal or even no impact on improving the roster. Are Pysyk, Mayfield, or Lyubushkin better than Holl? I’d say no to two of those players and I don’t think the other is significantly better if Holl plays decently.

However, if Holl comes up short and even gets passed by Liljegren in-game, I think there will be a lot of conversations. Not just about finding an upgrade (Severson, Manson, Pysyk), but also whether he has a spot in the lineup for game one and if his cap hit would be better used in a trade.

Justin Holl is under a lot of pressure right now!

Auston Matthews is not leading the NHL in ice time

As for the forwards, Nylander is on the third line as Sheldon Keefe tries to experiment with a “deep” lineup arrangement for potential playoff opponents. This lineup is asking Matthews and Nylander to carry their two linemates, which I guess is a compliment to the two of them. While I’m still confident Tavares can run his own line with the right role players, I’ve been less confident of Marner, especially this season. He’s had good moments, but he’s struggled to string them into a season of impact.

I also anticipate Nylander getting more ice time than the 14-ish minutes the third line has gotten so far this season. We’re probably going to see his regular post-PK shifts with Matthews, but I have to think he’s going to get some more regular shifts as well. I’m excited to see Kaše back in the lineup, I’ve loved him this season.

Leafs Lineup

Michael Bunting - Auston Matthews - Ondřej Kaše
Ilya Mikheyev - John Tavares - Mitch Marner
Alex Kerfoot - David Kämpf - William Nylander
Pierre Engvall - Jason Spezza - Wayne Simmonds
OUT: Nick Ritchie (scratched), Kyle Clifford (scratched)

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

Jack Campbell - confirmed starter
Petr Mrázek

As for the Ducks, they are a big top-six, bottom-six team. Getzlaf is still running the show at 36, with Rakell and the rookie Zegras supporting him. Zegras has been an exciting revelation offensively, and he’s second on the team in scoring. The leading scorer, however, is Troy Terry. He’s having a supernovae shooting season, scoring 23 goals on only 14 expected goals, his shooting percentage is a whopping 25%. League anomaly shooting years are in the 17% range, so this is quite abnormal. Credit to him, he’s having a great year, but it is sort of ridiculous.

Ducks Lineup

Trevor Zegras - Ryan Getzlaf - Rickard Rakell
Max Comtois - Sam Steel - Troy Terry
Vinni Lettieri - Isac Lundeström - Jakob Silfverberg
Nicolas Deslauriers - Sam Carrick - Buddy Robinson
OUT: Max Jones (injured), Adam Henrique (injured), Sonny Milano (injured), Derek Grant (injured)

Cam Fowler - Kevin Shattenkirk
Hampus Lindholm - Jamie Drysdale
Josh Mahura - Simon Benoit
OUT: Josh Manson (COVID), Greg Pateryn (scratched)

John Gibson - projected starter
Anthony Stolarz
OUT: Lukas Dostal (scratched)