Last One Before the Break: Leafs Game Preview 31

The Leafs are coming off an embarrassing 9-3 loss to the Buffalo Sabres, and it’s their last game before the Christmas break. The Leafs will look to rebound off of a poor game offensively, defensively, and in net. With two regulation losses in a row, the Leafs need to play a strong game tonight to stop their losing streak. The lines are changing for tonight’s game, so be sure to check tonight’s lines out below.


Leafs Projected Lineup

Three Things to Look Out For

Marner

Tonight’s game sees Marner back on the top line and reunited with Matthews. While Marner has many points, he hasn’t looked as dominant as the typical Marner. It’s hard to pinpoint what exactly the issue is, but with two playmakers in Bertuzzi and Marner on the same line, the second line was looking weak. Now, moving Marner back to the top line divides the playmaking abilities and shooting abilities up more evenly. Look for Marner to take a step forward tonight back with Matthews.

The Second Line

The second line tonight is going back to Bertuzzi, Tavares, and Nyander, a line that has been dominant in many games this season. This line has been the Leafs best line by far, and the hope was swapping Nylander, and Marner would boost the top line and Marner’s game as well, but that hasn’t worked quite as expected. Let’s see if this second line can pick up where they left off and push the Leafs further towards a win. Nylander’s play should take a jump with Bertuzzi now feeding him more pucks.

The Third Pairing

Tonight’s third pairing features two depth defensemen fighting it out for a roster spot in Benoit and Lagesson. Timmins is sitting tonight after some poor play defensively, and Keefe has stated how the Leafs best defensive games have been while icing a pairing of Benoit and Lagesson. The pairing will look to play a solid defensive game and not allow Columbus to crash the Leafs crease.

Jones gets the start tonight as the Leafs look to get revenge against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Tonight’s game starts at 7 p.m. EST on Sportsnet and CBC!

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

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