It’s game time again. After four days off, lots of practices. and some rink renovations, it’s time to play again.

Leafs vs. Canucks game preview

While the Leafs were off, a bunch of games were postponed, possible one fewer than should have been, and the NWHL bubble season that was neither a season, nor it seems, had any sort of bubble, was cancelled before it was over. People keep getting COVID-19, and the NHL is sticking to their belief that it’s not happening in-game.

“With about 20 percent of our season played, we are mindful of the fact that we might be seeing a more aggressive transmission of the virus and will continue to make adjustments to our Protocols as we consult on a daily basis with, and adhere to, the recommendations of our medical advisors,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said. “It is important to note that, while we have seen almost 100 players enter our COVID Protocols, fewer than half have done so because of confirmed positive tests - and, among that group, many have not been symptomatic. Our priority has been and will continue to be to act conservatively with an abundance of caution, understanding that there are many things about the transmission of COVID-19 that are still being discovered. As a result, we won’t hesitate to take additional measures as indicated by what we are learning and as directed by our medical advisers.”

Beginning with today’s games, all Clubs must implement the following:

Removal of Shielding Behind the Bench: To allow for air flow to more easily move away from the benches where Players and Coaches are in close proximity to one another during games, effective today, Clubs/Arenas will remove the partitions of shielding that are behind the home and visiting team benches.

Once this shielding has been removed, the seating area in the section(s) behind the benches on the lower level may not be occupied by anyone (e.g., fans, Club medical personnel, mascots). Any Club medical personnel who were sitting in those section(s) shall be relocated to sections adjacent to the ones located behind the Player benches.

This is better than a performative deep clean, but that’s about it. Some thoughts are being given to air filtration, expanding the locker room to separate players, and limiting time spent in the facilities, but that’s all so far.

Sorry for the un-fun topic this evening, but you’ll be seeing that plexiglass gone with the players still crowded on the bench, coaches still pulling their masks off to yell, and game action where proximity isn’t just incidental, it’s the point of the sport.

In actual hockey news, the Leafs called up Nic Petan for the fourth line, and he’s going to play in place of Pierre Engvall while Wayne Simmonds will be on the John Tavares line. We’ll see how this all works out!

Meanwhile the Canucks are in trouble so far this season. They’ve played the most games in the division, this game marks 25% of the season for them, but they’ve got a negative goal differential, and would be flirting with last place without Ottawa there to make them look good.

In a season that might not run the expected number of games, winning early is important.

The Leafs are on a bit of skid in terms of shotshare at five-on-five, but the Canucks have turned their early run of play into a burgeoning disaster. This first of three meetings gives both teams a chance to send that line back up in the right direction.

The Canucks allow more shots against than any other team in the NHL. If this won’t fix the Leafs minor struggles, nothing will.

Go Leafs Go, roll over those Canucks, we could all use a good laugh.