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Game Preview #63: New Jersey Devils vs. Toronto Maple Leafs

After taking points in each of their last five games, the Devils take on the Maple Leafs, who also made big trade deadline acquisitions.

Toronto Maple Leafs v New Jersey Devils Photo by Rich Graessle/NHLI via Getty Images

The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils versus the Toronto Maple Leafs. Opposition Blog: Pension Plan Puppets

The Time: 7:00 PM ET

The Broadcast: TV — MSG+

The Toronto Maple Leafs’ Trades

Kyle Dubas has had a busy couple of weeks up north. While the team sent out draft picks for veteran center Ryan O’Reilly and defensive center Noel Acciari, he decided to send Rasmus Sandin packing to Washington. The Capitals decided to give up a first round pick and veteran depth defenseman Erik Gustafsson — who is having a career year with 38 points and strong defensive impacts for the first time in his career — in the deal. But Gustafsson would not be their only defenseman acquired. Dubas sought out Luke Schenn from the Canucks — and he is a guy I know a lot of Devils fans mentioned as a decent target over the last couple weeks.

Biggest of all on the back-end is their trade for Jake McCabe from the Blackhawks. McCabe had a great defensive 2019-20 season with Buffalo and looked poised for an absolute breakout in 2020-21, but his season was cut short very early by a torn ACL, MCL, and meniscus. On a four-year deal with Chicago, he struggled last season but looks to be closer to his old self at this point. McCabe should really take the defensive heat off 39-year old Mark Giordano, who is still going strong for the Leafs but could probably use a few more minutes of rest each game as Toronto readies themselves for the playoffs.

O’Reilly Out on LTIR; Tavares Out

Unfortunately for the Toronto Maple Leafs, they will be missing center Ryan O’Reilly tonight. Sheldon Keefe announced to the media that he will be placed on Long-Term Injured Reserve due to a broken finger, which he sustained from an Auston Matthews shot. Additionally, they will be without captain John Tavares, who is out with an illness. This should make things interesting tonight, as the Maple Leafs will have to scramble to cover those minutes with depth centers, while the Devils’ centers have been playing rather well of late.

The Devils with Meier

In addition to the Devils being expected to be superior to Toronto down the middle tonight, Timo Meier will be fun to watch in his second game with Jack Hughes and Jesper Bratt. For all those goals that were disallowed in their matchup earlier this season, the Devils should only be more of a menace around the crease with Meier in the lineup than before. Hopefully that line also gets some more ice time tonight, as they were not relied upon as much as might be usual against Arizona.

Your Thoughts

What do you think of tonight’s game? Will you be watching? What players will you be keeping an eye on? Do you think the Devils will have any goals disallowed tonight? How do you think Toronto will look without O’Reilly or Tavare? Leave your thoughts in the comments below, and thanks for reading.