I feel like it’s become a tired schtick to keep bagging on preseason games, especially when I know there’s a good chance I’ll end up watching anyway, but the last preseason game is usually the toughest to watch. With the regular season right around the corner gone is the excitement of just being happy there’s hockey on TV. Gone are the prospects and the pro tryout players who give you someone different to watch in a Leafs uniform, and left are the guys we’ll be seeing a ton of in the next 7-8 months.
The enticing part is this is the first time we’ll get to see something a bit closer to what the Leafs want their lineup to look like. There might still be some changes coming or a couple of looming decisions, but this is the group. They’ll be playing where they want them to be. If Kerfoot’s a center tonight, the plan is probably to have him as a center on Wednesday. If Rielly is with Brodie, guess what, the Rielly-Brodie pairing is still a thing.
As for getting one last look at the Senators before the regular season, who cares? The Senators in traditional fashion will always give the Leafs more trouble than they should, but there’s not a whole lot to care about or be interested in watching. “Wow, is that former Leaf Connor Brown?” God, shoot me. Just let him get his goal against the Leafs and let me go about my day.
As for the lineup, here’s what we get with Matthews still sitting…
Expect the Leafs to look something like this tonight:
— Jonas Siegel (@jonassiegel) October 9, 2021
The fate of Brooks, Semyonov, Amadio, and Gabriel TBD.
It will be interesting to see what effect the insertion of Matthews will have for the opening night roster. I’d suspect Kampf will be back with Kase, but Kerfoot, Bunting, and Mikheyev remain a mystery. I’d also wager that Engvall’s the odd man out with Matthews return.
Liljegren and Biega sitting this one out. While Dermott is likely the 6th D, there was probably some interest in getting Liljegren a last look and Dermott was dealing with some minor health stuff earlier in camp, I thought he could be rested.
In net we’ll assume we’ll be treated to the Campbell and Mrazek split. Which one starts and which one finishes probably isn’t going to be too insightful, and both are going to get their share of chances this season. I’m willing to bet Campbell as the incumbent will get the net on opening night, but given that the Leafs inexplicably start the year with a B2B, Mrazek will be on display night two.
Tonight’s game can be found on Sportsnet One and airs at 7PM ET.