Toronto Maple Leafs: Justin Holl and Travis Dermott to Return

DALLAS, TX - OCTOBER 9: Miro Heiskanen #4 of the Dallas Stars tries to keep the puck away against Auston Matthews #34 of the Toronto Maple Leafs at the American Airlines Center on October 9, 2018 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images)
DALLAS, TX - OCTOBER 9: Miro Heiskanen #4 of the Dallas Stars tries to keep the puck away against Auston Matthews #34 of the Toronto Maple Leafs at the American Airlines Center on October 9, 2018 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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Tonight, the Toronto Maple Leafs host the Dallas Stars at the Scotiabank Arena.

Tonight’s game will feature the return to the lineup of Travis Dermott and Justin Holl.  Dermott has been out with some form of illness and Holl hasn’t played since last season when he scored two goals in his two game audition.

Since the last time these two teams faced off in early October, the Toronto Maple Leafs have had some changes in the offensive zone. The biggest one is regarding Auston Matthews. Matthews was placed on Injured Reserve on Monday after a collision with Jacob Trouba of the Winnipeg Jets that occurred on Saturday night. Unfortunately, Matthews sustained a shoulder injury and is out of the lineup for roughly 4 to 6 weeks.

With Matthews out of the lineup, there have been numerous changes. In the first game without Matthews, Mike Babcock decided to move Nazem Kadri up to the second line to play alongside Patrick Marleau and Mitch Marner. It was evident that those lines simply weren’t effective. On Monday night, the Toronto Maple Leafs offense looked flat when they took on the Calgary Flames. In fact in the first period of play, the Maple Leafs were out-shot 12-4. While, the Maple Leafs offense seemed to wake up a bit in the second and third periods, it wasn’t enough.

After watching his offense struggle against Calgary, Babcock has chosen to move Marner back alongside John Tavares, per a report from TSN’s Kristen Shilton. From the beginning of the season, Zach Hyman and Marner have been by Tavares side. The trio has been great together. If you add up the trio’s even strength points, they have 27 points at 5v5 in 12 games played. That is truly outstanding. While I do understand Babcock’s motive in having Kasperi Kapanen play alongside Tavares on Monday night, it would have been a mistake to have Kapanen play on the first line again tonight. Kapanen has looked outstanding on the top line this season with Matthews, but he clearly doesn’t have the same level of chemistry with Tavares.

The Dallas Stars

With the Dallas Stars in town, Leafs Nation will get another chance to take a look at rookie defenseman, Miro Heiskanen.

In the past five games, Heiskanen has been excellent in the offensive zone. Last Thursday night, Heiskanen scored his first career NHL goal as the Stars took on the Anaheim Ducks. Two games later, he found his way back onto the score-sheet as he grabbed another goal against the Montreal Canadiens. Both of Heiskanen’s goals came at even strength.

His play in the defensive zone has been outstanding. At this point in the season, he owns a 51.2 CF%, 50 dZS%, 21:14 ATOI, 9 blocks and 5 hits.

Heiskanen’s fellow Scandinavian defenseman, John Klingberg has been fantastic for the Stars as well. In 11 games played, Klingberg has been a demon in the offensive zone and has 11 points. The Toronto Maple Leafs will have their hands full with Klingberg and Heiskanen.

In terms of the Stars offense, they have looked relatively flat. Their top line which consists of Tyler Seguin, Alexander Radulov and Jamie Benn has been great, but the Stars have absolutely no depth. As long as the Toronto Maple Leafs don’t allow the Stars first line to tally goal after goal, they should be in good shape to grab their ninth win of the season.

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Prediction & Notes

My prediction is that the Toronto Maple Leafs will defeat the Dallas Stars by a score of 3 to 1.

The game will start at approximately 7:05 pm EST and tonight’s game can be viewed on TSN4 in the Greater Toronto Area and Fox Sports – Southwest in the Greater Dallas Area.

stats from NHL.com and hockey-reference.com