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Spencer Lussier

This will be their 20th career matchup between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Minnesota Wild, where the Leafs have a 9-9-0-1 record.  November 8th, 2011 was the last time the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Minnesota Wild in their home rink. The Leafs took a different approach ahead of tonight’s game, as yesterday they practiced outdoors in Minnesota. One person who was not skating was Auston Matthews. He has been officially ruled out of his third straight game tonight, after sustaining an upper body injury on Saturday night’s win. The Leafs are 5-1 this season without Matthews, losing their first game on Tuesday against the Flyers. Aside from being asked about injury updates, the only thing Mike Babcock hates is his team’s defensive effort over the last little while. Once again, the Leafs fell victim to the opponent out shooting the Leafs significantly, and the reason why they lost was because Andersen didn’t bail them out again. Despite the Leafs still putting up wins, they have been ugly ones and have been masked by the fact that Andersen has been unreal this season.

Minnesota will be missing a key part to their team tonight as well. Starting goalie Devan Dubnyk was knocked out of the Wild’s last game against Calgary because of a lower body injury. He is now listed week-to-week, which means former Leaf Alex Stalock will be the starter tonight. Not only has Minnesota been dominant against the Leafs at home over the last couple of seasons, but the Wild are on a tear at home lately. Minnesota has won six of their last seven home games and own an impressive 9-3-1 record at home.

Player to Watch on Minnesota:

There isn’t one big superstar on the Wild, but they have a very solid lineup through all four lines. One player that has been consistent for the Wild this season is Eric Staal. The 33-year-old has turned back the clock to his Carolina days where he would carry the team offensively. Staal leads the team in points with 26 points in 30 games played. Playing in the Eastern Conference for 12 seasons, Staal has seen his fair share of the Leafs. Staal has no issues getting motivated for a game against the Leafs, as he has 47 points in 43 games played against the Leafs.

Watchability scale:

Expect this game to be a bit of a snooze fest. Minnesota is a very boring team to watch that does not push the tempo of a game. Toronto’s offence needs to capitalize on the opportunity as they face a backup goalie despite not having Matthews in the lineup. Don’t be surprised though if Alex Stalock plays motivated hockey against his former team that he has voiced his displeasure against the Leafs treatment of him. I would say this game would be a 2/5 on the watchability scale

Lines: 

Leafs:

Hyman - Marleau - Marner

Komarov - Kadri - Nylander

JVR - Bozak - Brown

Martin - Moore - Leivo

Rielly - Hainsey

Gardiner - Zaitsev

Borgman - Polak

Andersen

Wild:

Zucker - Koivu - Coyle

Niederreiter - Staal - Granlund

Ennis - Eriksson Ek - Stewart

Foligno - Cullen - Mitchell

Suter - Dumba

Brodin - Murphy

Reilly - Prosser

Stalock