Puck drop: 7:30 p.m. EST  |  TV: TSN4  |  Radio: TSN1050  |  Location: Toronto, ON

The Toronto Maple Leafs play their final home game of the preseason tonight against the Detroit Red Wings with another — nearly — full lineup on deck.

As you might expect, the Leafs will use their last two preseason games to get their regular lineup into shape. For Detroit Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill, minor injuries are keeping regulars Jonathan Ericsson and Trevor Daley out of action. Dennis Cholowski, Joe Hicketts, Filip Hronek and Libor Sulak — four young defensemen who are fighting for spots — will be hoping for good performances tonight with the potential opportunity for at least two of them to start in the NHL on opening night.

For the Leafs, Kasperi Kapanen will play in Zach Hyman’s spot left of John Tavares. Kapanen is a player whose skill set could work well higher up the Leafs lineup and complement the speed and puck possession of those units, but he’s more of a fill-in while Hyman recovers. Interestingly, the Leivo – Kadri – Brown line, which Babcock suggested yesterday needs to be “sorted out,” remains intact tonight. The easy move would seemingly be to plop Kapanen in on the right side of that line to give it a shot in the arm knowing Connor Brown hasn’t been up to much in preseason, but that’s not Babcock’s thinking as of yet.

Frederik Gauthier is also expected to draw in on the right wing of the bottom line with Par Lindholm and Andreas Johnsson, with the possibility of seeing some penalty killing time as well. While somewhat of an afterthought in the Leafs system now, at the present, Gauthier is likely the next centre up (outside of Josh Jooris, who hasn’t impressed at camp and is more of a winger) if Lindholm can’t hack it at the NHL level or goes down to injury.

Playing in just his second game of preseason, Travis Dermott returns to the lineup tonight on a possible opening-night pairing with Igor Ozhiganov. That isn’t etched in stone as of yet, but Calle Rosen underperformed on Wednesday in Montreal and Ozhiganov appears to have the slight edge among a group of right-handed bottom-pairing candidates who haven’t had a clear winner emerge from the field of competition.

Game Day Quotes

Maple Leafs‘ head coach Mike Babcock on the progression of Kasperi Kapanen (playing with Tavares and Marner tonight) into an NHL regular and the process of finding his place in the lineup:

For him to be successful, he needs to understand what kind of player he’s going to be in the NHL. I think that’s the hardest thing when you enter the league and you’re not a top two line player. You’re a top two line player your whole life and now you’ve got to find a way to survive. You’ve got to find a way to be important on a team. His way is going to be with his speed, his tenacity, his heavy play on the cycle, finishing checks, getting to the net. The sooner the player understands that — doesn’t matter what the coach says — the player has to come to grips with what they’ve got to do to be successful.

Babcock on Gauthier:

He’s 6’5 235lbs, and what do we need more than 6’5 235lbs? Nothing. So now you’ve got to grab it, though. I’m going to watch and he’s going to play.

Babcock on the difficulties of player deployment at the end of a power play with the Leafs stacked first unit:

Yeah, brutal. I knew before the game (Wednesday) that was going to be my biggest challenge. Didn’t do a very good job of it and we’re going to have to do it again. It’s going to take some time. Now, It’ll help when I’ve got Hyman in the lineup because I’ve got a role for him and I’ve everybody in the right spots. You’ve got to find a way to get them in a rhythm right away and guys can’t miss too much action.

Kapanen on playing with Tavares and Marner:

Well, obviously, they’re guys that are going to be playing with the puck. They’re both very skilled guys. John’s played for a long time and Mitchy is a phenomenal young player, so I think I’m just going to be trying to use my speed, get in on the forecheck, and getting them pucks back. Just trying to find some open space and see if I can bang one in.

Toronto Maple Leafs Projected Lines


#12 Patrick Marleau – #34 Auston Matthews – #63 Tyler Ennis
#24 Kasperi Kapanen – #91 John Tavares – #16 Mitch Marner
#32 Josh Leivo – #43 Nazem Kadri – #28 Connor Brown
#18 Andreas Johnsson – #26 Par Lindholm – #33 Frederik Gauthier


#44 Morgan Rielly – #2 Ron Hainsey
#51 Jake Gardiner – #22 Nikita Zaitsev
#23 Travis Dermott – #92 Igor Ozhighanov


#31 Frederik Andersen
#30 Calvin Pickard

Detroit Red Wings Projected Lines


#39 Anothony Mantha – #71 Dylan Larkin – #42 Martin Frk
#26 Thomas Vanek – #72 Andreas Athanasiou – #8 Justin Abdelkader
#39 Tyler Bertuzzi – 51 Frans Nielsen – #14 Gustav Nyquist
#27 Micheal Rasmussen – #54 Christoffer Ehn  – #11 Filip Zadina


#55 Niklas Kronwall  – #13 Filip Hronek
#47 Libor Sulak – #2 Joe Hicketts
#53 Dennis Cholowski– #3 Nick Jensen


#35 Jimmy Howard
#31 Harri Sateri