What to Watch Today
The last round of exhibition games are today:
Nashville Predators vs Dallas Stars — 4:00 pm EST on NHLN, NHL.TV, FS-SW, and FS-TN.
Boston Bruins vs Columbus Blue Jackets — 7:00 pm EST on Sportsnet One, TVAS, NHLN, NHL.TV, FS-O, and NESN.
Vegas Golden Knights vs Arizona Coyotes — 10:00 pm ESTon NHLN, NHL.TV, and FS-A PLUS.
After the Toronto Maple Leafs won their one exhibition game against the Montreal Canadiens, we wait until Sunday for game one of their play-in series against Columbus. The roster is more or less set, with some maybe lingering question on Engvall or Gauthier for the fourth line.
Some, like Justin Bourne (linked below), pointed out that Robertson faced trouble along the boards and engaging physically against bigger opponents. He showed clips of it happening, and I buy it. He points out that smaller, young players who succeed in the NHL as stars like Marner and Kane succeed because they avoid checking. They can’t even be touched, while Robertson seeks out and engages physically.
I can watch those clips and agree it will can be a hurdle he will face. In fact, Scott Wheeler and others have long said the biggest problem he’ll deal with is not being so crazy at times because it has led to him getting injured even in the CHL.
But, I look at how he looked overall on the third line. He played around 10 minutes, and he was at or near the top on the team in shot attempts and expected goals. He looked calmer and better as the game went on. Keefe clearly does not think that Engvall or Gauthier are good enough for that role. Robertson got more minutes than both those guys in their one exhibition game, he was still in that same spot in yesterday’s practice. It will be pretty weird for them to decide to pull him at this point. All signs to them having made their decision.
Now, we wait. Real hockey is almost back. It’s just around the corner, and I am here for it. I felt a bit overwhelmed seeing the exhibition game start on Tuesday... it was just so warm and hopeful. I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to Sunday. Even if the Leafs suck and lose in three, obviously my least favourite potential result, the fact that it came back at all and there is other hockey to be played is something I have sworn to myself I will appreciate.
GO LEAFS GO!
ONTO THE LINKS!
Back to Excited Episode 111: Exhibition win & Columbus series preview | by Arvind and Fulemin
How the Maple Leafs have done in best of five series | by Elseldo
Sheldon Keefe on Nick Robertson (transcript) | by MLHS
Analyzing Nick Robertson’s exhibition game and the tough choice ahead | by Justin Bourne at Sportsnet
Leafs’ Rielly revving up after rough regular season | by Mark Masters at TSN
Scouting the enemy: Breaking down the Blue Jackets with Aaron Portzline | by James Mirtle and Aaron Portzline at The Athletic
AROUND THE HOCKEY WORLD
Why were the Arizona Coyotes so angry that GM John Chayka quit? | by Greg Wyshynski at ESPN
Mike Babcock -- yes, that Mike Babcock -- to Vermont as volunteer adviser to coaching staff. Ex-NHLer Mark Stuart will be volunteer assistant coach https://t.co/1to7W9yyz1— Mark Divver (@MarkDivver) July 29, 2020