Toronto Maple Leafs @ Nashville Predators: game #73
Time: 8:00 p.m. EST
Location: Bridgestone Arena - Nashville, Tennessee
Broadcast/Streaming: TSN4, FS-TN, ESPN+, as well as NHL.com
Opponent SBNation Site: On the Forecheck (@OnTheForecheck)
Can we all forget last week happened? It was weird, and wild, and mostly frustrating. But now after a day off and a practice the Maple Leafs are in Nashville, and have brought with them a roster that is healthier than previous nights.
Kasperi Kapanen was skating with Nazem Kadri and Patrick Marleau on the third line during Monday’s practice. Coach Mike Babcock indicated the medical staff would’ve allowed him to play as early as Friday, but took the conservative approach and made him available to the team only for this game.
Babcock said Kapanen probably could have played two games ago, but that it was obviously important #Leafs followed the league's protocol all the way through. Kapanen said it was better to stay on the safe side and not play for awhile, making sure he got back to 100 per cent.— Kristen Shilton (@kristen_shilton) March 18, 2019
Also at forward, Frederik Gauthier “got hit in the foot” during the game on Saturday and won’t be available for this weeks games. Luckily, the Leafs have Nic Petan, who will skate alongside Connor Brown and one of Tyler Ennis or Trevor Moore. The quote by Babcock was rather funny during his post-practice interview because he didn’t know what exactly happened to the Goat, only that he’s not available to him. I like a system like that. It keeps the coaches from meddling and frees their mind for more important things.
Leafs forward Frederik Gauthier (foot) will not travel with the team for the next two games in Nashville and Buffalo and will be re-evaluated on Thursday. #LeafsForever— Leafs PR (@LeafsPR) March 18, 2019
Some light reading before the game:
Maple Leafs Lines
Lines based on yesterday’s full practice
Andreas Johnsson - Auston Matthews - William Nylander
Zach Hyman - John Tavares - Mitchell Marner
Patrick Marleau - Nazem Kadri - Kasperi Kapanen
Trevor Moore - Nic Petan - Connor Brown
Morgan Rielly - Ron Hainsey
Jake Muzzin - Nikita Zaitsev
Martin Marincin - Justin Holl
Frederik Andersen - Starting
Garret Sparks - Demanding more emotion
There is still a goaltending battle going on in Nashville. Pekka Rinne has been the de facto number one this season, starting in 48 of the 73 games the team has played, but Juuse Saros has not only been good, he’s been consistent as well. His .915 save percentage is two notches better than Rinne’s, and his play in recent weeks has been very impressive.
Must feel great to have two good goaltenders.
It will not only be interesting to see if Saros starts tonight against Toronto, but if he starts in game one of the playoffs.
Of note, Kyle Turris has missed the last two games with an injury, but recently skated on the fourth line during practice. His return is currently unknown, but he could move up to skate on the second line with Mikael Granlund and Wayne Simmonds (oh right, you’re here now) as soon as tonight vs. Toronto.
Lines from Saturday’s game against San Jose, via NHL dot com.
Filip Forsberg - Ryan Johansen - Viktor Arvidsson
Mikael Granlund - Nick Bonino - Wayne Simmonds
Calle Jarnkrok - Colton Sissons - Craig Smith
Brian Boyle - Kyle Turris - Rocco Grimaldi
Roman Josi - Ryan Ellis
Mattias Ekholm - P.K. Subban
Matt Irwin - Yannick Weber
Juuse Saros - unconfirmed starter
The last time these two teams met was in early January. The Leafs were at the end of a week-and-a-half long homestand, coming off a 5-0 win against the Vancouver Canucks the previous Saturday night. The Preds walked into the SBA on the Monday and proceeded to beat the Leafs 4-0. Freddy Andersen was injured during this time, so it was Michael Hutchinson and his red pads who got the start and the loss. The shots in that game were famously 18-32 in favour of Nashville and the power play went 0/3.
So, hopefully tonight is a bit of the opposite as this time, it’s the Leafs coming off a big loss to a Canadian team instead of a big win. That’s how this works, right?
Frédérik Gauthier speeds back to check Gibbons and stop the scoring chance pic.twitter.com/YNGcXqbPlC— Flintor (@TheFlintor) March 17, 2019
I already miss the Goat.