Minnesota Wild @ Toronto Maple Leafs
07:00 PM at Scotiabank Arena
Watch on: CBC, SNO, SNP, BSN, BSWI
The Leafs last game was at home on October 11 against the Montréal Canadiens, which Toronto won by a score of 6-5. The Leafs have a record of 1-0-0 so far.
The Minnesota Wild last played at home on October 12 against the Florida Panthers. The Wild won by a score of 2-0, and their current league record is 1-0-0.
This is the time of the year, when we're not facing Montréal, where we get to play: That guy is on that team! Who knew?
The Wild version brings us Patrick Maroon, who they signed two seconds after Brad Treliving snatched Ryan Reaves out from under them by giving him three years. Also notable is Ryan Hartman, a good quality centre who just signed an extension for $4 million as their 1C.
Young players of note are Matthew Boldy, who is now on his big contract and has something to prove, and Marco Rossi, the same age as Boldy, who is trying to get his career on track after a very rough experience with Covid.
So what's up with this team? The cap chickens have come home to roost. They have almost $15 million in dead cap this year and next from the buyouts of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, so they have let players go, and signed inexpensive serviceable replacements to bridge the gap to when that buyout money drops to $1.6 million.
They are projected by most to be a playoff team – something a lot easier to do in their division than in the Atlantic – and they have some quality players. They aren't a bottom-feeder, but they are relying on a lot of players rising to the occasion of being played over their heads.
Jessi Pierce via Daily Faceoff
Kirill Kaprizov - Ryan Hartman - Mats Zuccarello
Marcus Johansson - Joel Eriksson Ek - Matthew Boldy
Marcus Foligno - Marco Rossi - Frederick Gaudreau
Patrick Maroon - Connor Dewar - Brandon Duhaime
Jonas Brodin - Brock Faber
Jacob Middleton - Alex Goligoski
Jon Merrill - Calen Addison
Filip Gustavsson - likely starter
The Leafs should stop falling down, that's the first order of business.
Once they're actually on their skates and moving, the next step is to play some hockey. Why, exactly, the Leafs look like a Timbits team is anyone's guess, but one theory is the Scotiabank ice.
The Star asked the Leafs about the ice – notorious in the NHL for variable conditions, usually bad. Various players explained their process for deciding in warmups how soft the ice is and planning accordingly. Sheldon Keefe said a true thing that is also not the point, that both teams play on the same ice.
We all know the story, that the SBA hosts concerts, the Raptors, the Leafs – and October is warmer than it used to be. But in a league where Vegas has consistently good ice, where Arizona can't get a rink built, but whatever one they are using almost always features good ice, then MLSE could likely do a lot more. After all, isn't playing a lot of hockey in the warmest part of the year the ultimate goal of every team?
The interesting part of that story is that players agreed the new arena in Edmonton is not better than the old one, so some aspect of arena design involves sacrificing temperature control.
The roster is unchanged:
Like the first game, Benoit is recalled, and will likely be returned to the AHL post-game.
The Leafs lines are unlikely to change – on paper – but in-game you never know. That Keefe, such a bad coach, always changing lineups, unless they're the changes you want, and then he doesn't change them fast enough, so hidebound, so addicted to his lineblender, so slow to react, so quick to change things.
Tyler Bertuzzi - Auston Matthews - Mitch Marner
Max Domi - John Tavares - William Nylander
Matt Knies - Fraser Minten - Calle Järnkrok
Noah Gregor - David Kämpf - Ryan Reaves
Morgan Rielly - TJ Brodie
Jake McCabe - John Klingberg
Mark Giordano - Timothy Liljegren
Ilya Samsonov - confirmed starter
I consider this to be game two of the first 10, and the first 10 are always a little strange. Don't listen to those people who claim such-and-such a team is all consistent and professional and coming out strong. They're just making up stories with win/loss records. Every team is strange this early.
Bonus Game Coverage
Today is the opening game of the Marlies season, and AHL TV has all games this weekend free, so if you want to make tonight a doubleheader, you can. You have to sign up for an account, but you aren't required to pay until you choose an actual package for games beyond this weekend.
The Marlies host the Rochester Americans (Buffalo) at 4:00 pm today and the Utica Comets (New Jersey) at 4:00 pm tomorrow. I'll try to post today's lineup in comments before the game begins.