Källgren’s Return: Leafs Game Preview #4

The Leafs (2-1-0) are back at Scotiabank Arena tonight as they host the 0-2-0 Coyotes. While the Coyotes’ lineup doesn’t look too intimidating, often, the Leafs have a knack for struggling against the weakest teams on paper. The Leafs look to change that narrative tonight as they face the Coyotes. This game is important for many Leafs players, including Erik Källgren, who will be making his 2022-2023 debut with the Leafs. The Leafs should play a solid game tonight as the extra cap space from Murray going on LTIR has resulted in the Leafs carrying 23 players, thus creating inner competition. Let’s take a look at the projected lineups for tonight:

Leafs Projected Lineup

Forwards

Bunting – Matthews – Marner

Nylander – Tavares – Malgin

Engvall – Kerfoot – Järnkrok

Aston-Reese – Kämpf – Aubé-Kubel

Defense

Rielly – Brodie

Muzzin – Holl

Giordano – Sandin

Goalies

Källgren

Samsonov

Coyotes’ Projected Lineup

Forwards

Crouse – Boyd – Keller

Ritchie – Hayton – Guenther

Maccelli – McBain – Kassian

O’Brien – Bjugstad – Fischer

Defense

Moser – Stecher

Gostisbehere – Brown

Nemeth – Mayo

Goalies

Vejmelka

Ingram

3 Things to Look Out For

1. Erik Källgren

It wasn’t until the 58th game of last season that Erik Källgren made his debut in the NHL, as he relieved Petr Mrazek on March 10th, 2022, in a 5-4 overtime loss. Interestingly enough, that game was against the Coyotes, so it’s only fitting that his first game of the 2022-2023 season is also against the Coyotes. Fortunately, this year Källgren doesn’t have to wait near as long, as he is starting tonight in the Leafs’ 4th game of the season. Källgren has said since the call-up that he wants to prove he is an everyday NHL player, and today is a great chance to prove it as he looks to show that his work over the summer has made him a better goaltender. Look for Källgren to be composed in the net and have improved rebound control from last season.

2. Denis Malgin

Malgin has looked solid in his return from overseas with the Leafs so far. Although he has been playing well, the Leafs now carrying 23 players instead of 20 has created more competition in the Leafs’ lineup. Specifically, Nick Robertson, who had an impressive training camp with the Leafs, is now knocking on the door. I expect the added competition of knowing that two other forwards with the club now put some added pressure on all of the Leafs’ depth pieces, but I’m sure Malgin is feeling the pressure too. Look for him to compete hard tonight as he continues to earn each game he plays.

3. Nicolas Aubé-Kubel

 So far, Aubé-Kubel has come as advertised, a strong forechecking, heavy hitting forward. Aubé-Kubel has yet to land a point in the regular season, and I predict tonight is the night he gets that first point. Aubé-Kubel has been a solid addition to the Leafs’ squad, and while he has performed well, I’m sure that, similarly to Malgin, he is feeling the pressure with Wayne Simmonds once again being part of the Leafs’ organization. I expect Aubé-Kubel to have another solid night defensively and hope he can turn those solid defensive efforts into offensive zone faceoffs or, better yet, goals.

Tonight’s game vs. the Coyotes begins at 7:00 pm EST on Sportsnet 1!

Thanks for reading! Feel free to follow me on Twitter @nathan_bondy.

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