Leafs-Wings Preview

Puck Drops: 7:30 EST
TV: LeafsTV
Radio: AM640 (AM980 in London)

Additional tip: If you don’t have LeafsTV, consider buying LeafsTV interactive; for a flat fee of $40, you get all preseason games (right, only two left, including tonight), all Sportsnet games, and some select TSN games to boot. It’s a pretty good deal.

It’s not every team that could lose three NHL centremen and still dress four more, even in a preseason game. Okay, so three out of four are marginal NHLers, but I’m not overly concerned. First, this is a preseason game, and the Leafs have nothing to lose by giving extra time to the likes of Philippe Dupuis, as he skates between Joffrey Lupul and Phil Kessel. With the injury to Nazem Kadri, the forward corps is all but set, aside from some competition for fourth line spots, so it makes sense to focus on these players, anyway.

The Leafs will likely look to the hot hands of the MGK line, each member of which had a multi-point game against Ottawa. Get used to this being a theme during the regular season. Noteworthy is that Grabovski’s mentor and workout partner, Pavel Datsyuk, has the night off.

Matt Frattin and Colby Armstrong will be centred by Darry Boyce, and can hopefully still provide some scoring help from the third line. Lord knows, their 3rd line counterpart, Abdelkader-Helm-Bertuzzi is going to cause problems for Leafs defenders all evening. Bertuzzi, although older and slower than he’s ever been, still has size, a nose for the net, and decent vision on the ice, whlie Helm can skate like the wind.

Leafs goaltender Jonas Gustavsson is expected to play the full game, and will look to outduel Jimmy Howard at the other end. Gustavsson’s numbers have looked solid so far in this preseason, even if his lateral movement has left him out of position at times. I doubt he’ll always be able to make such scrambly saves come time for the regular season, but for now, we’ll take what good we can find, and hope for the best.

Mike Commodore and Dan Cleary are injured, and will not be dressing for Detroit.

Other Wings players to keep an eye on:

Valtteri Filppula: Despite a lack of size, he is very strong on his skates, and isn’t afraid of puck battles along the boards. He’s perhaps not as offensively gifted as Kulemin, but their games aren’t altogether that different.

Gustav Nyquist: He looks like a solid, late-round pick for the Wings. Check out his numbers at HockeyDB.

Ian White and Garnet Exelby: White’s fortunes have changed for the better, and I’m happy to see it. He was becoming something of a journeyman, but has been playing alongside Nicklas Lidstrom for most of the preseason. Lucky duck. Garnet Exelby, I shouldn’t have to remind you, makes a better door than defenseman.

Here are the Leafs’ and Red Wings’ lineups from mapleleafs.com:

Clarke MacArthurMikhail GrabovskiNikolai Kulemin
Joffrey LupulPhilippe DupuisPhil Kessel
Matt FrattinDarryl BoyceColby Armstrong
Mike BrownMike ZigomanisColton Orr

Keith AulieLuke Schenn
Jake GardinerMike Komisarek
Carl GunnarssonCody Franson

Goalies: Jonas Gustavsson, Ben Scrivens

Justin Abdelkader – Darren Helm – Todd Bertuzzi
Valtteri Filppula – Henrik Zetterberg – Johan Franzen
Gustav Nyquist – Cory Emmerton – Tomas Holmstrom
Chris Conner – Joakim Andersson – Landon Ferraro

Nicklas Lidstrom – Ian White
Niklas Kronwall – Brad Stuart/Brian Lashoff
Garnet Exelby – Doug Janik

Jimmy Howard
Jordan Pearce