The Toronto Maple Leafs’ full lineup will be in action tonight — lines 1-4, pairs 1-3, the full PK and PP units plus Frederik Andersen in net — as the team tunes up against Montreal in its third-from-last preseason game (7 p.m. ET, TSN 2 & 4).
The lone surprise of note from the past few days — on the ice, that is — is that it looks like Dmytro Timashov is getting a hard look for a fourth-line wing and penalty-killing role for opening night, with Trevor Moore shifting up onto the right wing next to Alex Kerfoot on line three.
The Sandin – Marincin pairing that looks to have the edge as the opening night bottom pairing will also play together on the penalty kill tonight — yet another show of faith in the rookie defenseman — while Muzzin – Ceci is going to be the primary PK pair on the backend entering the year.
On the power play, Andreas Johnsson and Kasperi Kapanen are going to play the net-front roles for the first and second units, respectively, while Marner-Matthews (first unit) and Nylander (second unit) will play their one-time sides, with John Tavares (first unit) and Alex Kerfoot (second unit) playing the bumper role in the slot of the 1-3-1. Unsurprisingly, Rielly (first unit) and Barrie (second unit) will quarterback the two groups.
The even distribution of ice time between the two units became a major talking point as the Leafs‘ power play stumbled down the stretch and into the playoffs in 2018-19. The preseason isn’t the best indication of time-on-ice intentions, but this will be a situation worth monitoring in the days and weeks to come. Power play coach Paul McFarland leaned heavily on his highly-effective top unit in Florida, but the Leafs have the makings of two balanced units here with the additions of Barrie and to a lesser extent Spezza, and keeping the two units competing with one another for ice time — while staying fresh and setting up the post-PP matchups — is certainly a Mike Babcock preference.
Game Day Quotes
Babcock on what his expectations are for the team tonight:
It is real simple. We are in a different situation than we were in exhibition [in years past] except basically my first year. We’ve got to really play hard tonight. I’ve got to learn about these players. There are a whole bunch of players that haven’t played here. I’ve got to know about them. The only way we’re going to know about them is if we play hard and play right. That is the detail and how hard we work and how organized we are. We’ve got to be focused in that area.
Auston Matthews, Mike Babcock, John Tavares and Morgan Rielly address Matthews allegations
— Maple Leafs Hotstove (@LeafsNews) September 25, 2019
Toronto Maple Leafs Projected Lines
Kapanen – Tavares – Marner
Johnsson – Matthews – Nylander
Mikheyev – Kerfoot – Moore
Timashov – Gauthier – Spezza
Muzzin – Barrie
Rielly – Ceci
Sandin – Marincin
Moore – Gauthier
Mikheyev – Timashov
Muzzin – Ceci
Marincin – Sandin
Marner – Tavares – Matthews
Spezza – Kerfoot – Nylander
Montreal Canadiens Projected Lines
Lehkonen – Danault – Gallagher
Cousins – Kotkaniemi – Weal
Hudon – Suzuki – Drouin
Varone – Peca – Weise
Mete – Weber
Kulak – Fleury
Alzner – Reilly