Tonight the NHL preseason takes us to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan where the Ottawa Senators take on the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Now that Canada has rolled to gold glory at the WHC, all players have now reported to their respective teams including 8 players from the Leafs.
Preseason is difficult to gauge as teams carry a large number of players on their roster and the lineups are very fluid at this point.
Leaf fans will get a glimpse of Frederik Andersen as he is expected to make his preseason debut tonight. Coming off injury playing for Denmark in an Olympic qualifier game this will be the netminders first game action as a Leaf.
Leafs coach Mike Babcock left the impression that Andersen will see limited action though.
“I don’t know how much he’s going to play, but he’s going to definitely play a period.”
This according to Babcock earlier this week. With just a few preseason games remaining it is likely that Leafs management wants more minutes for other players and to give Andersen more time to heal and adjust.
According to @HennyTweets this afternoon probable two lines for tonight could be JvR, Nylander and Hyman along with Marner, Matthews and Greening. Information is slowly coming out of Saskatoon this afternoon.
The Ottawa Senators are also a team looking hard at it’s training camp line up as they too move towards a post season birth.
Another Anderson is expected between the Ottawa pipes for tonight. Craig Anderson is rejoining the team are taking leave for personal issues. Expect the 35 year old to play the full 60 minutes.
Having suffered a concussion on the opening day of training camp Mark Stone is not expected to play tonight but otherwise the Senators are looking at icing a strong lineup vs the young and speedy Leafs.
This is the preseason so a win or loss this evening doesn’t count until October 12th. There is much anticipation about Andersen (Leafs) playing a strong game with the limited minutes he will see. Leafs nation is not yet convinced that the 5 year $25M contract signed this summer was worth it. Perhaps the Jonathan Bernier stay is still too fresh in the minds of Leaf fans and that was at almost half the money.
Most attention will be squarely set on Auston Matthews. His debut on Sunday night was respectable with strong puck play but was weak in the face off circle and zero points. Again it is the preseason but Leafs Nation will certainly take notice if he repeats his performance again. The hockey world has seen Matthews play many games at the international level and have a pretty good idea what he can bring. People want to start seeing what he has to offer. Let’s not forget he is a 19 year old NHL rookie. Franchise rookie yes . . . but still a rookie.
After tonight’s contest the Leafs will play 3 more preseason contests starting Thursday with a rare back to back to back game schedule. Shouldn’t be too taxing on the team though as many bodies will be in and out of the lineup between now and when camp breaks early next week. Expect lots of movement of players being sent back to their clubs as the roster should be trimmed significantly over the next 5 days.
For now Leaf fans are patiently awaiting October 12th. That is when it is for real, playing for keeps as they say. For the long suffering fan this season will offer the hope so longingly desired.
As Mike Babcock said after winning hockey gold this fall . . . . “a sign of things to come for Toronto.”
Discuss among yourselves.
Tonight’s projected lineups