After a disappointing Fans First preseason opener, the small upside of this overtaxing preseason schedule is that the Leafs get right back at it tonight, against the same opponents and with what appears to be a stronger line-up than last night’s edition. Tyler Bozak, Nikolai Kulemin, Phil Kessel, Clarke MacArthur and Mikhail Grabovski all sub in up front while Luke Schenn, Mike Komisarek and Francois Beauchemin will get their first tastes on the back end. Meanwhile, the Senators will ice a similar line-up to last night and will again sit their big names as all of Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza, Alex Kovalev, Milan Michalek and Chris Phillips did not make the trip to Toronto.
John Mitchell, Luca Caputi and Colton Orr will also feature in the Leafs’ bottom six up front for a total of seven or eight forwards that will likely be part of the October 7th opening night line-up against the Habs versus the three or four from last night (Colby Armstrong, Kris Versteeg, Mike Brown/Christian Hanson. The jury remains out on Kadri). Certainly, given the Senators’ line-up, there should be much more cause for concern should tonight’s scoreline resemble last night’s.
As good as the Armstrong-Kadri-Versteeg (particularly Versteeg, who was great in all situations and flashed some of the offensive creativity the Leafs will desperately need this year) line was at pressuring and drawing penalties last night, they couldn’t break the goose egg despite the man advantage situations and didn’t receive much support from the other three lines. The Leafs’ more experienced cast of forwards will face a Sens’ blueline of Benoit, Lee, Carkner, Hale, Cowen and Campoli according to TSN’s Ice Chips, so more should be accomplished offensively tonight.
Less experience will be present between the pipes for the Leafs tonight as James Reimer and Ben Scrivens figure to split duties according to am640′s Jonas Sigel. The Senators will counter with Brian Elliot.
Colton Orr will play and so will Carkner, so that should be fun. Throw in our first looks at Kessel, Bozak and Kulemin (who Wilson thinks we could see 25 from this year) and hopefully Leafs fans will have more to smile about this evening.
(Bozak told Maple Leafs Hot Stove’s Gus Katsaros at training camp last weekend that he feels prepared for a big season at an increased playing weight, saying “I feel better, I feel stronger, I feel a little faster with the strength that I have. I feel a lot better and a lot more balanced”).
Jesse Blacker, Danny Richmond and Juraj Mikus will fill out the blue line for the Leafs. Darryl Boyce, Alex Foster and Jay Rosehill will complete the forward units.
Here are the projected lines for tonight according to TSN’s Ice Chips:
Kulemin â€“ Bozak â€“ Kessel
MacArthur â€“ Grabovski â€“ Dâ€™Amigo
Caputi â€“ Mitchell â€“ Boyce
Orr â€“ Foster â€“ Rosehill
Beauchemin â€“ Komisarek
Schenn – Blacker
Mikus â€“ Richmond