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Play-in Round: Toronto Maple Leafs (8) vs Columbus Blue Jackets (9)


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Hockey is coming back boys, Leafs confirmed to be facing Columbus in the play-in round.

Leafs in 4


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the only 2 serious question marks for health at this point are Johnsson for us and Anderson for them.

Andy was having a terrible season but his replacements are no better and his absence mostly nullifies any physical advantage they might have.


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Soup is the wildcard in this. If he comes back in top 6 form they are going to have trouble with the top 9


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Got a feeling goaltending will be a wash in this one. Merzlikins numbers are propped up by that crazy good 8 game run

Outside of that streak he posted an .897 in 24 games

Wayward DP

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Got a feeling goaltending will be a wash in this one. Merzlikins numbers are propped up by that crazy good 10 game run

Outside of that streak he posted an .897 in 24 games
think it just depends who gets hot...

and I don't have a lot of faith in rusty Freddie...


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1. I think keefe is gonna keep Hyman with matthews but i would reunite him with tavares and marner. Those 2 need hyman's speed, boardwork, and front net drive much more than Matthews-Nylander do. Mikheyev might be a perfect fit on that line.

2. Our defense over the course of the year...

First 23gms (Babcock):


Pair 1 (elite usage): Rielly 23gms, 50.4% - Ceci 23gms, 50.0%
Pair 2 (average usage): Muzzin 22gms, 44.8% - Barrie 23gms, 46.6%
Pair 3 (soft usage): Dermott 10gms, 46.8% - Holl 21gms, 46.7%
Pair 3 (soft usage): Marincin 7gms, 43.8% / Sandin 6gms, 52.9% / Gravel 3gms, 52.4%

Top pair the only one that did the job, and just barely. 2nd and 3rd pair disastrous considering their usage.

2nd 23gms (from Keefe Hire to Rielly injury):

Pair 1 (tough usage): Rielly 23gms, 51.7% - Ceci 23gms, 53.3%
Pair 2 (tough usage): Muzzin 16gms, 57.2% - Holl 23gms, 55.2% / Marincin 7gms, 58.3%
Pair 3 (soft usage): Dermott 23gms, 60.0% - Barrie 23gms, 56.4%

Almost perfectly healthy, with the Muzzin-Holl pairing just dominating even against tough comp. Ceci and Barrie actually switched part the way through here so ceci's overall qoc wasn't actually top pair tough and Barrie's wasn't actually bottom pair soft. But man, everything really clicked here. And then the injuries hit.

Last 24gms:

Pair 1 (elite usage): Muzzin 15gms, 58.3%/Marincin 12gms, 51.4% - Holl 24gms, 55.4%
Pair 2 (average usage): Dermott 23gms, 49.8%/Rielly 1gms, 73.8% - Barrie 24gms, 49.3%
Pair 3 (soft usage): Sandin 22gms, 47.7% - Ceci 10gms, 51.6%
Pair 3 (soft usage): Rosen 4gms, 47.2% - Liljegren 11gms, 36.6%

An absolute mess due to the injuries but the performances were still decent.

Muzzin-Holl was still great despite even tougher usage, Dermott-Barrie was just OK in secondary usage. Note that it was actually dermott who filled in for Muzzin on that top matchup pairing and not Marincin (who mostly played with Barrie), so dermott's middling xgf% there is actually a bit more impressive than it looks. (Also a nice new example of a dominant possession bottom pair dman seeing a clear decline with tougher usage, as per usual).The kids unfortunately weren't very good at all despite extreme sheltering, and Ceci was a welcome replacement for them at the end.

Looking back at the year it sure seems like 3 clear phases for the dcorps, and I'd tend to that being the main driver of the corresponding overall team performance changes during the year - awful 1/3, awesome 1/3, average 1/3.

If that's true, then that's damn good news because now we should be back to the fully healthy core we saw in the awesome 1/3. The key to it all being just how great the muzz-holl pair was in an increasingly tougher role. That allows Rielly to play in non-elite matchups for the first time since he was a cub, which should be great for his performance level by putting him in a more similar role as other elite dmen with his skillset like Carlson, Burns, Hedman, etc.. I would tend to look to Ceci as his main partner, because a) in retrospect that rielly-ceci pair was actually holding its own in a very tough role, and b) whatever their overall impact, ceci is better defensively than barrie. But the real beauty of muzz-holl rising to shutdown status is that Keefe is now free to play around more with the other pairs, so Barrie and Ceci can swap in depending on the situation. And then of course this all leaves Dermott in a role we know he can dominate in, and whichever of barrie/ceci is down there with him.

3. I hope he goes back to Engvall as the Johnsson replacement on the 3rd line not Spezza.

My preferred lineup:


Rielly - Ceci
Muzzin - Holl
Dermott - Barrie

With Barrie stealing some minutes from Ceci in offensive situations.

P.S. there's a real chance Robertson gets a chance to inject some energy into that 4th line, too.


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I honestly somewhat question their ability to do this and still be profitable given all the collateral costs. Guess we'll find out...

That’s a good point. The NHL’s a gate-driven league, so how does this whole exercise not end up being a giant money-loser for them?

The only thing I can think of is that maybe the NHL would be contractually obligated to pay back huge amounts of their TV deal money if they don’t have some kind of conclusion to this season.
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