The Toronto Maple Leafs, fortunately, salvaged a point from a surprisingly powerful (this season) New Jersey Devils’ team on Thursday night. It was the start of a three-game homestand for the Blue & White. The Buffalo Sabres enter the game after suffering a 4-1 loss in Ottawa to the Senators on Wednesday.
The Sabres will try to end a seven-game losing streak tonight. That’s a surprise for this Sabres’ team. They started the season looking really strong – their record was 7-3-0.
In this edition of Maple Leafs Line Combinations and Defensive Pairings, I’ll take a look at the lineup that will start the game tonight. I’ll also comment about what that means to the game.
Related: Maple Leafs’ Goalie Matt Murray Is Not the Problem
Murray Starting Third Straight Game
Matt Murray has played well in goal. That might be a surprise, given his less than happy reception when he moved to the Maple Leafs duirng the offseason. However, he’s been much better than people hoped even. It hasn’t been his fault that the team has lost.
Murray will start again tonight against the Sabres. It will only be his third straight start in goal. Against the Devils, he made a number of strong saves to allow his team to “steal” a point. Over this three games, he’s put together a 1-1-1 with a goals-against-average of 3.01 and a save percentage of .903.
The Maple Leafs will not make a ton of changes for this game. Once again, Nick Robertson will be a healthy scratch. The highly-successful fourth line has now ostensibly moved to become the team’s third line. And Pontus Holmberg gets his third start in a row centering the team’s fourth line. Denis Malgin seems to have found a place in this lineup.
|PIERRE ENGVALL||PONTUS HOLMBERG||CALLE JARNKROK|
Auston Matthews scored his eighth goal of the season for the Maple Leafs on Thursday. Yesterday, there was a scare when he blocked a shot with the foot in practice on Friday. When he had to leave the ice, Leafs Nation let out a collective sigh.
Later that relaxed a bit when Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe reported to the media that “He’s fine.” Last season’s Hart Trophy winner was only recently beginning to score with any regularity.
Mitch Marner is also heating up. His assist on Matthews’s goal gives him 15 points (three goals and 12 assists) during his last 11 games. He has scored a point in each of those games.
Related: Three Takeaways from Maple Leafs’ 3-2 OT Loss to Devils
Jordie Benn plays on the first pairing again. After two straight stellar games, he coughed up a puck that led to a Devils’ goal on Thursday. Mark Giordano plays on the second pairing, and the two young Swedes Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren are playing together on the third pairing.
Related: MAPLE LEAFS TJ BRODIE INJURED: LET’S ALL PANIC IMMEDIATELY!
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