Maple Leafs (20-14-4) @ Devils (12-19-5) 7:00 p.m.
Watch on: MSG+ Sportsnet Ontario (blackouts in effect)
Opponent’s site: All About the Jersey

The Toronto Maple Leafs and the New Jersey Devils join 20 other teams in a return to NHL hockey tonight after a three day Christmas break. For those who have forgotten during this weeks festivities, the Leafs are on a five game winning streak. The most recent victory was  a crazy 8-6 win against the Hurricanes on Monday afternoon, which was the seventh win in the past eight games.

Tonight is the first of three games against the Devils this season. The other two will both be here in Toronto. It’s also the first game of a back-to-back; the second game is tomorrow in Toronto against the Rangers.

Maple Leafs Lines (source: Kevin McGran at morning skate)

Ilya Mikheyev - John Tavares - William Nylander
Zach Hyman - Auston Matthews - Mitchell Marner
Pierre Engvall - Alexander Kerfoot - Kasperi Kapanen
Dmytro Timashov - Frederik Gauthier - Jason Spezza

Morgan Rielly - Tyson Barrie
Jake Muzzin - Justin Holl
Travis Dermott - Cody Ceci

Could these lines change more? Maybe. Guess who is back.

The longer this goes on, the more serious we have to think was that “bump” in practice which extended his absence, and the more questions there are about when or if this will become an LTIR situation.

Devils Lines (source: Abbey Mastracco at morning skate)

Jesper Bratt - Nico Hischier - Kyle Palmieri
Blake Coleman - Travis Zajac - Nikita Gusev
Miles Wood - Jack Hughes - Wayne Simmonds
Jesper Boqvist - Pavel Zacha - John Hayden

Andy Greene - P.K. Subban
Will Butcher - Sami Vatanen
Mirco Mueller - Damon Severson

This is the Devils new post-Taylor Hall lineup after he was traded to the Coyotes for picks and prospects on December 16.

The Devils are second last in the Eastern Conference, ahead of only the Red Wings who are having a historically bad season. The Devils themselves have won only 12 of 36 games in what some of their fans think is the most disappointing season in recent memory considering the collection of sought-after free agents signed by the team in the off-season.

In Goal

Mackenzie Blackwood, who was famously suspended from the World Juniors, is in net for the Devils. Guess who starts the back-to-back for the Leafs?

The goal here is to just win this. It should be a simple game. Hopefully there’s no post-holiday hangovers to sort out.