Toronto Maple Leafs @ Nashville Predators
6:00 PM at Bridgestone Arena
Watch on: SNO, NHLN, BSSO
Note the funky start time, even for the locals. 5pm? Alright.
The Leafs will be closing out their five-game road trip in Nashville on Sunday. They’ve won 2 out of the four games so far on the trip, but have only really looked strong in the most recent one, the 5-3 loss to Carolina. Hopefully they build on that progress and get the win.
Nashville lost 7-2 to Seattle last night, their former first round pick, Eeli Tolvanen, scored twice against his old team. That must’ve been a fun night for him.
The Preds are a funny team. They have an Egor, a Rasmus, a Cole, a Colton, a Cody, and several other players the Leafs know well. Tyson Barrie needs no introduction, despite being a one-year wonder (why he bothers calling himself a defenseman). Mark Jankowski was almost a Leaf instead of Alex Kerfoot. Also, Ryan McDonagh and Cal Foote were on the Lightning last year.
A lot of their roster has changed in the past year as they’re looking towards the future. They had a good trade deadline, mostly thanks to the whole draft class the Lightning gave them for a guy named Tanner. But there are still some “classic” players from the team still around. Matt Duchene is still a winger, Colton Sissons is still on the third line, and Danté Fabbro has been realized as the next big thing for the team just as the rest of the defense goes into the crapper.
Lines (last night’s game via Emma Lingan)
Philip Tomasino - Cody Glass - Matt Duchene
Kiefer Sherwood - Thomas Novak - Luke Evangelista
Yakov Trenin - Colton Sissons - Cole Smith
Egor Afanasyev - Mark Jankowski - Rasmus Asplund
Ryan McDonagh - Danté Fabbro
Tyson Barrie - Jordan Gross
Jeremy Lauzon - Cal Foote
Kevin Lankinen - projected starter
Ilya Samsonov is back home in Toronto for the birth of his first child with his wife, Maria. Side note, Erik Gustafsson also went home to Washington for personal reasons and won’t return for this game at least, so the Leafs are running with Simmonds, McMann, O’Reilly, and Timmins as the extra skaters who are with them on this trip. Plenty to manage things with.
Matt Murray and Joseph Woll have been the tandem for the last couple games, and with Murray starting last night, it’s likely to be a Joseph Woll start tonight. Want to start a goalie controversy, Joey buddy?
Another development that we might see is the return of Ryan O’Reilly. He’s been travelling with the Leafs on this road trip and was skating with the main group yesterday. Should he come back today, it’s possible we see Lafferty or Acciari shifted to the fourth line RW and ROR begin on the third line. Järnkrok and Bunting have been playing at varying degrees of good so it might be worth keeping them there for the time being. Matthews has been having a lot of fun with the yarn croc lately.
Lines (from last night)
Calle Järnkrok - Auston Matthews - Mitch Marner
Michael Bunting - John Tavares - William Nylander
Alex Kerfoot - Noel Acciari - Sam Lafferty
Zach Aston-Reese - David Kämpf
Morgan Rielly - Luke Schenn
Jake McCabe - TJ Brodie
Mark Giordano - Timothy Liljegren
Joe Woll - projected starter
Nashville’s top-six is young and might give the Leafs fits off the rush on the second half of a back to back.
However, Auston Matthews has two goals in each of his last two games and appears to be heating up at the right time for Toronto in what is inarguably his personal worst season to date. He can make up for all of it when it counts, and that time is coming.
Build on the performance. Let’s go!