They dress together, head to games together, and now we’ll get to see them play together.
Mike Babcock took out the blue-and-white themed blender Monday at practice. The blueline was left the same with Jake Gardiner still sitting out with his back spasms. Andreas Johnsson wasn’t present as well as the hit he took from Niklas Hjalmarsson resulted in a concussion.
Justin Holl played the role of forward to fill in, but that wasn’t the only change with Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner getting paired up on the “second” line.
#Leafs lines at practice:— Kristen Shilton (@kristen_shilton) January 21, 2019
Lindholm-Gauthier-Holl (holding for Moore)
Gardiner (back spasms)
Matthews and Marner are good buddies off the ice, at least that’s what it looks like and they connected on the powerplay back when it looked formidable. But the two have spent time together a 5v5 in those odd shifts after a penalty kill with John Tavares (1.6% of his offensive deployment at even strength via Frozen Pool).
There is a case for cautious optimism. Those were the lines on Monday, but things can change between now and Wednesday’s game against the Washington Capitals. And even if it does make its way to the starting lineup for the match who knows whether Babcock likes what he sees enough to let it be for more than a period.
The only way to solidify it is with results. Babcock went back to the vintage Hyman-Matthews-Nylander trio and quickly ended the nostalgia when not enough was shown.
That’ll be the question of week. Will Babcock give it a chance? Will it work? Is this the first step to turning things around and stop losing to teams that we should beat!? Tune in next time on Toronto: A Leafs Story.
In Case You Missed It
Maple Leafs call up Trevor Moore to fill in for Andreas Johnsson - Pension Plan Puppets
Johnsson left Sunday’s game with a concussion.
Around the Hockey World
Here’s a laugh for your morning.
Hurricanes sign Teravainen to 5-year, $27m contract extension - Canes Country
Teuvo Teravainen’s new contract will keep him in Carolina through the 2023-24 season.
Oilers Re-Sign Koskinen to Three Year Contract - The Copper & Blue
No, I don’t know why.
What went wrong for Rask and the Hurricanes? - Canes Country
The Canes pulled off a brilliant move last week, trading Victor Rask and his contract for Nino Niederreiter. But how did things get to the point of the team being so ready to move on from Rask?
The King of Angst - Jewels From The Crown
As the losses mount, you have to wonder about what’s ahead...
Bad Contracts Could Correct Dallas Stars Scoring Woes - Defending Big D
An article where trading for Milan Lucic is a viable way to improve the 2018-19 Dallas Stars. Hmm.
What each first Round pick of the Nill Era says about the Stars (Part 1) - Defending Big D
Management’s inability to properly draft and develop has kept the Stars from becoming anything more than a playoff bubble team.
The Hart era is upon us, but is it too soon for our savior? - Broad Street Hockey
Carter Hart has performed well since his National Hockey League debut, but will he become the feverishly-sought-after savior of this team too soon?
Jeff Blashill Back in the Hot Seat? - Winging It In Motown
The poor management of young players continues to sabotage the rebuild. What defense is there for the state of the defense?