Toronto Maple Leafs @ Detroit Red Wings
Leafs Game #52
Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Place: Little Caesars Arena, Detroit, MI
Opponent’s Site: Winging it in Motown

It’s a credit to the engineers and a good arena staff there’s a hockey game tonight at Little Caesars Arena. The Detroit Pistons hosted the Boston Celtics in a game that started at noon and ended about 2:30 p.m.. The Pistons lost 113-104, for the record, but what’s more interesting to hockey fans is that same arena is being used again tonight for a game between the Red Wings and the Maple Leafs.

That’s probably a part of the reason tonight’s game doesn’t start until 7:30 p.m., even though Hockey Night in Canada will still go live at the traditional 7:00. That actually only adds an extra 15 minutes of waiting as we’ve all experienced that HNIC games never actually starts until about 7:15, with the broadcasters filling out the first quarter hour with their own preview of the game. Tonight there will simply be more inane banter to pad it out, or possibly a peek into some other game that’s live at that time like the Senators vs. Canadiens, so don’t panic if you turn on CBC at 7:20 and see that one, the Leafs game will come on eventually.

These shared hockey and basketball venues are nothing new. The basketball court simply floats on top of the ice with some kind of liner material in-between, but the process of disassembling it, removing the added floor seats and installing the hockey boards, then resurfacing the ice, and cleaning up the arena of all the litter, bits of popcorn, and spilled drinks normally doesn’t have to happen so quickly to welcome in a new wave of fans; in this case only four hours after the previous group leaves. New arenas are built with this kind of fast turnover in mind, but I’m sure the staff will still be pulling their hair out to get the ice right for the game.

All that being said, if you are walking the concourse at the game tonight I would make sure to ask for exactly how many hours that slice of Little Caesars pizza has been “Hot-N-Ready” in the display case.

Maple Leafs Projected Lines

Were not sure exactly who we will get tonight as there are reports some final decisions are being left right up to game time as several players have what is described as a “non-COVID-related” illness.

The lines below are from the previous game and make the assumption most of these players with a mystery illness will be ready for this game, but I will watch for updates and revise accordingly.

Update: Nick Robertson to play vs Detroit on Saturday

Nick Robertson is in after being called up from the Marlies, likely for Pierre Engvall, but again, this is all in flux intil Sheldon Keefe signs the official game roster for the league.

Michael Bunting - Auston Matthews - Mitch Marner
Ondřej Kaše  - John Tavares - William Nylander
Ilya Mikheyev - David Kämpf - Alexander Kerfoot
Nick Robertson - Jason Spezza - Wayne Simmonds

Morgan Rielly - TJ Brodie
Rasmus Sandin - Ilya Lyubushkin
Travis Dermott - Timothy Liljegren
OUT: Jake Muzzin (concussion), Justin Holl (scratched), Pierre Engvall (assumed to be scratched for Robertson)

Jack Campbell (confirmed starter)
Petr Mrázek

Detroit Red Wings Projected Lines
(from WIIM)

Filip Zadina - Dylan Larkin - Lucas Raymond
Robby Fabbri - Pius Suter - Tyler Bertuzzi
Vladislav Namestnikov - Michael Rasmussen - Adam Erne
Joe Veleno - Carter Rowney - Sam Gagner

Danny DeKeyser - Moritz Seider
Marc Staal - Filip Hronek
Nick Leddy - Gustav Lindström

Thomas Greiss (projected stater)
Alex Nedeljkovic

Griess has been the Red Wings backup for this season, starting a total of 19 games and earning a 0.900 sv%, though Nedeljkovic hasn’t faired much better at 0.907. The Red Wings are rested; their last game was also at home on Wednesday, they’ve overall had a rather light February schedule compared to the Leafs. Their next game isn’t until Tuesday, and it’s a home game again, so it’s quite interesting they elected to go with the goalie that is ostensibly their backup against an elite shooter like Auston Matthews. This could be an interesting game, but it won’t be a goalie duel.