0
Photo Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

LGD: Down With Torts, Etc.

Friends, it’s a good time to be a Leafs fan. Babcock is rolling four scoring lines — okay, fine, three scoring lines and Kasperi Kapanen — and it’s the era of Travis Dermott, who stepped up admirably in the Leafs’ time of need and has managed to stick in the lineup. As the trade deadline looms closer, Toronto is looking to stay hot. They’re playing fast, skilled hockey for the most part, and not-so-coincidentally have wins in eight of their last ten games. Tonight they’re looking to win their fifth straight as John Tortorella’s Columbus Blue Jackets come to town.

The Leafs haven’t won against the Blue Jackets yet this season — they suffered a 4-2 loss in December then a 3-2 overtime loss in January. Let’s buck that trend tonight.

Leafs Lines

DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS
Morgan Rielly
MORGAN RIELLY
Ron Hainsey
RON HAINSEY
Jake Gardiner
JAKE GARDINER
Nikita Zaitsev
NIKITA ZAITSEV
Travis Dermott
TRAVIS DERMOTT
Roman Polak
ROMAN POLAK

It’s a brave new world, folks. This is about as close to optimal as we’re going to get with this lineup, and we’re one tiny change away from being really formidable. Is it a bummer that Dermott is anchored to Polak? Yeah. But Babcock hasn’t shown any indication of being able to like, make the perfectly rational decision that Polak should be the seventh defenseman rather than Carrick, so at this point I’m too tired to fight about it.

We’re sticking with the Kadri-Marner experience, which I gotta say has been super enjoyable. The top line is, as ever, the top line, and Connor Brown with JVR and Bozak is sensible. Kapanen and Moore joining Komarov on the fourth line has been really excellent, as Komarov’s ice time settles into a more appropriate territory and Kapanen is a legitimate scoring threat. I like Matt Martin, I really do, but you can’t argue that this fourth line isn’t the best of the ones we’ve iced this year.

Blue Jackets Lines

DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS
Zach Werenski
ZACH WERENSKI
Seth Jones
SETH JONES
Jack Johnson
JACK JOHNSON
Markus Nutivaara
MARKUS NUTIVAARA
Dean Kukan
DEAN KUKAN
David Savard
DAVID SAVARD

I love the Werenski-Jones pairing more than I love most things in life, so I’m excited to see them tonight. However, while those two rank among the top pairs in the NHL, the rest of the Blue Jackets defense is, uh, really something. We should definitely try to exploit this fact.

Columbus isn’t having the best of seasons, and they’ve been downright pedestrian lately with a 4-5-1 record in their last ten games. Still, they’re just one point out of a wild card spot and they’ll be fighting hard for two points on the road tonight.

Starting Goalies

The Leafs will be sending the ever steady Freddie Andersen out tonight. Columbus hasn’t confirmed a starter yet. Sergei Bobrovsky did play last night against the Islanders, but he’s no stranger to back-to-back starts, and you’ve got to think the Blue Jackets want this game.

If Bobrovsky does end up starting, it’s worth knowing that he did go through a four-game losing streak recently, though he snapped that with a win over the Devils on Saturday night. He then made 29 saves en route to a victory yesterday, and if he’s getting hot, the Leafs might be in a little trouble.

LGD BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE PINT

Make the Pint your home for all things game day. We give away a free pound of wings during every game either home or away. 4.40$ mugs of Bud and Bud Lights.