By: Spencer Lussier

The Toronto Maple Leafs are coming home after a 1-3 Western Conference road trip. The Leafs get their first taste of Las Vegas hockey as the expansion team comes to the ACC. Auston Matthews took part in today’s practice, but left early due to what the team is calling general soreness. He is listed as a game time decision for tonight.

Three Pre Game thoughts:

Next man up….Once Matthews left practice after feeling discomfort, William Nylander slid into the number one centre role with Zach Hyman and Connor Brown flanking him. Nylander was drafted as a centre but never got the chance to play up the middle with the Leafs…..understandably so. If Matthews does in fact miss tonight’s game, my eyes will be locked on Nylander to see if he can be responsible defensively while still creating scoring opportunities, something Matthews does so well.  

Can the Leafs scoring capitalize….. Vegas’ goaltending carousel has been at the fore front in recent weeks. Since losing the face of the franchise Marc-Andre Fleury to a concussion earlier in the season, Vegas has used three more goalies to fill the void. Maxime Lagace has been the starter since Oscar Dansk went down a week ago. Vegas has struggled since Lagace was given the reigns as a starter, allowing 12 goals in his three starts (excluding the four goals on eleven shots he surrender in relief against the Islanders). With Vegas’ goaltending lacking experience and shaky play, the Leafs and their second rated offence have a golden chance to dominate offensively and run up the score.

Chip on the shoulder….. With Vegas’ first appearance against Toronto, naturally we looked at who was taken off the Leafs roster in the expansion draft. That man is 23-year-old Brendan Leipsic, who never made a huge impact on the Leafs but was a key contributor for the Marlies for his two and a half years. As a smaller player with good hands, he was made expendable considering much of Toronto’s depth is those types of players. Leipsic said that he has a chip on the shoulder tonight against his former club, and despite only four assists in eight games, look for Leipsic to be flying around the ice and making an impact.