The Toronto Maple Leafs are taking on the NHL’s worst team, so I suppose that if there is ever a time for experiments, this is it.
That said, the lineup that Toronto Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe is icing tonight leaves a lot to be desired, and I highly doubt what we’re seeing tonight will be anything like what we see in game 1 of the playoffs, but I suppose time will tell.
In the seven games since the Leafs last played Montreal, they won six of them and lost a seventh in OT.
Ironically, the game against Montreal that they lost was probably their most dominant game, but that’s just how she goes sometimes. (stats from naturalstattrick.com).
Toronto Maple Leafs vs Montreal Canadiens
The playoffs are a foregone conclusion and no matter how the standings end up, the Leafs are going to be playing a very difficult first round matchup. Tonight’s game is pretty much just an exhibition game, but there is still one very important reason to tune in:
Specifically, a goal tonight from Matthews will be his 50th in the last 50 games, which is incredible.
As to the Leafs lineup, they will once again healthy scratch their most effective defenseman, Timothy Liljegren.
The lineup looks terrible in many different ways.
- Rielly should be paired with Brodie. Lyubushkin can’t move the puck good enough to make him an effective partner for Rielly.
- Giordano should be paired with Liljegren. In the games without Lilly, Gio has looked like an aging ex-star. With Lilly he looks like a #1 in his prime. Easy decision here.
- Gio and Holl are way too slow to pair together, and they were the team’s worst pairing last game.
- Muzzin and Lyubushkin are an obvious pairing for defensive zone starts. I don’t know what the coach is doing with his blue-line, but at least tonight’s game is against Montreal.
- William Nylander on the 3rd line is fine. If you want to spread out the talent so there is basically always a superstar on the ice, I’m fine with that. But don’t pair Nylander with Kampf, because that’s incredibly wasteful. At no time should Kampf be killing the offense of one of your elite players.
- The Kampf with Mikheyev and Engvall line has been incredibly consistent and why they’d mess with it this late in the season is beyond me.
- Spezza and Simmonds are done. Let’s just finally admit that a fourth line filled with speed and hungry talent is going to be way more helpful. I want to see some combination of Abruzzese, Robertson, Steeves and Blackwell.
Anyways, those are just my thoughts on the lineup. I don’t expect everyone to agree, and I don’t presume to know more than the coach. The Toronto Maple Leafs should obviously try out different looks during (mostly) meaningless games, but I do think some things are so obvious (Nylander, Liljegren) as to not be worth the experimentation.
I sincerely hope that the Toronto Maple Leafs lineup in game one of the playoffs doesn’t look anything like tonight’s. As to Erik Kallgren getting the start: I really wish the Leafs coach would respect the need for my hockey pool team to have Campbell in net tonight!