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Photo Credit: Jeff Curry - USA Today Sports

LGD: The Return of Bozak

The Leafs look to restore some good faith after that terrible outing against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday night. Now they face a tough St. Louis Blues team that is tired of underperforming in recent seasons.

They certainly have the talent to make a mark in the playoffs, but whether it’s the Blackhawks for the better part of a decade or another strong division rival, the Blues always seem to fall short of their potential.

As it is in Blues fashion, they are 1-3-2 to start a season where they won the Most Improved Team On Paper in the Offseason Award.

The Leafs lost a rough one on Thursday night, but they at least they only allowed one non-empty net goal for the whole game. When there is one game that the offense doesn’t work on this team, then you know they are going to come in guns blazing.

Considering that the Blues have not yet allowed less than three goals in a single game this season, we might be seeing an elite offensive demonstration tonight.

Leafs Lines

LW C RW
Patrick Marleau
PATRICK MARLEAU
Auston Matthews
AUSTON MATTHEWS
Kasperi Kapanen
KASPERI KAPANEN
Zach Hyman
ZACH HYMAN
John Tavares
JOHN TAVARES
Mitch Marner
MITCH MARNER
Par Lindholm
PAR LINDHOLM
Nazem Kadri
NAZEM KADRI
Connor Brown
CONNOR BROWN
Josh Leivo
JOSH LEIVO
Frederik Gauthier
FREDERIK GAUTHIER
Andreas Johnsson
ANDREAS JOHNSSON
LD RD
Morgan Rielly
MORGAN RIELLY
Ron Hainsey
RON HAINSEY
Jake Gardiner
JAKE GARDINER
Nikita Zaitsev
NIKITA ZAITSEV
Travis Dermott
TRAVIS DERMOTT
Igor Ozhiganov
IGOR OZHIGANOV

Andreas Johnsson is coming back into the lineup after not dressing for the game against the Penguins. He has had a rough start to the season, but perhaps expectations were a little too high after a solid Leafs debut last season and a dominant season with the Marlies. It might take some time, but he has the tools to improve throughout the season – unlike Gauthier.

On the blueline, Ron Hainsey is still sticking out like a sore thumb but there have been at least some positive surprises so far. The Dermott-Ozhiganov pairing has been extraordinary.

It’s been just over 75 minutes, but they have a 62.96 5v5 on-ice CF% and a 57.6 5v5 xGF%. Extremely good numbers for a limited amount of icetime, but at least there are some positives coming from the (almost) rookie and the KHL free agent.

Blues Lines

LW C RW
Jaden Schwartz
JADEN SCHWARTZ
Brayden Schenn
BRAYDEN SCHENN
Vladimir Tarasenko
VLADIMIR TARASENKO
Zachary Sanford
ZACHARY SANFORD
Ryan O'Reilly
RYAN O’REILLY
David Perron
DAVID PERRON
Patrick Maroon
PATRICK MAROON
Tyler Bozak
TYLER BOZAK
Alex Steen
ALEX STEEN
Samuel Blais
SAMUEL BLAIS
Ivan Barbashev
IVAN BARBASHEV
Jordan Kyrou
JORDAN KYROU
LD RD
Vince Dunn
VINCE DUNN
Alex Pietrangelo
ALEX PIETRANGELO
Joel Edmundson
JOEL EDMUNDSON
Robert Bortuzzo
ROBERT BORTUZZO
Colton Parayko
COLTON PARAYKO
Jordan Schmaltz
JORDAN SCHMALTZ

In some cruel turn of events, Tyler Bozak is Alex Steen’s center – makes me feel some weird Leafs-related feelings.

Down the middle, the Blues are (on paper) one of the best teams in the league. Brayden Schenn had a breakout season last year and they added Ryan O’Reilly after just sacrifincing some future assets and salary. David Perron has been red-hot since re-joining the Blues as well.

The top line of Schwartz-Schenn-Tarasenko is historically an outstanding line. In 439 minutes of icetime, they have a 59.09 5v5 CF% and a 60.01 xGF% – simply dominating their competition while on the ice. The Leafs blueline will have a rough time trying to control these three forwards.

On the backend the Blues have been consistently one of the better teams in the West. Before it was Shattenkirk and Bouwmeester patrolling the blueline, but now captain Alex Pietrangelo looks to do it mostly by himself with younger replacements. Vince Dunn has been solid and Joel Edmundson looks to be a good top-4 defenceman for the time being.

Colton “Constantly In Leafs Trade Rumours” Parayko has been bouncing around the lineup, but it just feels weird to see him on the bottom pairing on his off-side, especially after his rookie season explosion.

Starting Goaltenders

Frederik Andersen – The best Danish goalie to ever live, Andersen comes into this game after a strong performance against the Penguins. Leaving the game with a .973 sv% looks good and it bounces his season average to a .914 after six starts.

Jake Allen – The most inconsistent goaltender to ever live, Jake Allen is doing exactly that this season so far. Completly shitting the bed in some games and then being just a good goaltender in some – the Jake Allen Story.

Puck drop is at 7:00pm EST on NHL Network and CBC/Sportsnet as Hockey Night in Canada.

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