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Game Preview #3: New Jersey Devils at Toronto Maple Leafs

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The Devils and Maple Leafs meet in Toronto in an early season matchup featuring two hot offenses.

NHL: New Jersey Devils at Buffalo Sabres Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

And just like that the training wheels are off. Tonight the New Jersey Devils will face their first true test of the 2017-18 season. We’re not in Buffalo anymore, folks, the Devils have crossed Lake Ontario and are set to take on the second highest-scoring team in the National Hockey League in the Toronto Maple Leafs. Somebody’s leaving Air Canada Centre with their first loss. Here we go.

The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (2-0-0) at the Toronto Maple Leafs (3-0-0; SBN Blog: Pension Plan Puppets)

The Time: 7:30 PM EST

The Broadcast: TV - MSG

The Maple Leafs: Toronto last played on Monday night against the Chicago Blackhawks in a game which saw the two highest scoring teams in the NHL meet in action. They won that game 4-3 in overtime on an Auston Matthews goal. It was the first time they’d beaten Chicago since November of the 2014-15 season. The Leafs outplayed Chicago for large periods of time throughout the game, out-shooting the visiting Blackhawks 43-21. That said, it wasn’t an easy win. After initially dominating the opening frame, Toronto allowed goals from Jan Rutta and Jonathan Toews (Those were goals 16 and 17 for Chicago on the year) to put them behind the eight-ball. Playing from behind for most of the way, Toronto still put it on their opponents, outshooting the Blackhawks 36-12 from the second period on. For more on that game, here’s a link to Hardev Lad’s Pension Plan Puppets recap.

Toronto’s lineup in practice yesterday looked like this:

The Leafs’ morning skate lines looked identical against Chicago with the exception of Dominic Moore on the fourth line over Eric Fehr. Josh Leivo remains the odd man out. Andreas Borgman and Calle Rosen will lace ‘em up as opposed to Roman Polak and Connor Carrick on defense. As for the goalies, Frederik Andersen has started all three games so far this year. With their previous game being on home ice and having that day off in between, I see nothing to indicate he won’t start this one as well.

The Devils: It’s no secret: New Jersey has some injuries. Brian Boyle, Michael McLeod, Drew Stafford, and Kyle Palmieri all have ailments which kept them from action in Buffalo. As of now, there’s no word on what New Jersey’s lineup will look like Wednesday night. Both Andrew Gross and Amanda Stein have stated Kyle Palmieri is a game-time decision, he and Stafford will be evaluated further tomorrow.

Andrew Gross posted the Devils’ practice lineups from Tuesday in two separate tweets, I condensed them into this list of players:

Forwards:

Hall-Zacha-Bratt

Johansson-Hischier-Hayes

Wood-Henrique-Palmieri

Gibbons-Coleman-Noesen

(No Drew Stafford)

Defensemen:

Greene-Severson

Moore-Butcher

Mueller-Santini

Prout-Lovejoy

The Goal: Toronto is the first real challenge the Devils will face on this 82-game journey called the NHL regular season. They beat Colorado up, and though they allowed too many shots to get through to Corey Schneider in that game, they improved upon that flaw in the Buffalo game. That’s a trend that will need to continue in the right direction for New Jersey to come away from Air Canada Centre with two points. The Maple Leafs are from all early indications a playoff team. They have 19 goals in nine periods. This game will be a good measuring stick for New Jersey in the early season.

Your Thoughts: So, what do you think about the Maple Leafs early season successes? Can the Devils keep pace with them in what should be a goal-driven shootout of a game? Who will the key contributors be in this game? Leave your thoughts in the comments, and have a great day.