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Spencer Lussier

The Toronto Maple Leafs finish 2017 against the newest team in the NHL the Vegas Golden Knights. Toronto are looking to rebound from Friday’s overtime loss against Colorado, but face their toughest task on this three-game road trip that finishes tonight in Vegas. The Golden Knights aren’t your ordinary expansion team, taking the whole NHL by surprise with an incredible start that sees them sit first in the Western Conference. Vegas enters this game winners of six straight, and are 9-0-1 in their last 10.

With Toronto having their first trip to Las Vegas, the team are taking all precautions to be away from the bright lights of Las Vegas. The team’s hotel is 25 minutes away from the Vegas strip. Good thing too because the Leafs are going to need to be on their "A" game if they want to steal one in Vegas. The Golden Knights are almost unstoppable at home, with a 15-2-1 record at the T-Mobile Arena. Tonight, may have a different feel to it, as it is New Year’s Eve and many Canadians and possible Leafs fans should be in attendance.

The last time these two teams met, Toronto came away with the victory, however Vegas forced the game to a shootout coming back from two goals down. In their past two games, Toronto’s defensive focus has been careless and against a Vegas team that ranks third overall in average goals per game at 3.4. that could spell trouble for the Leafs, who are making it a habit of letting teams back into games.

Player to watch for Vegas:

The Golden Knights have surprised a lot of fans with how they have been able to succeed in the first year of existence. One aspect that has certainly help is their offence. They have a very deep attack up from with six players who have at least 25 points this season. The man leading the charge is the player to watch tonight, and that is Jonathan Marchessault. The 27-year-old broke became one of the games newest goal scorers, reaching the 30 goal mark last season with Florida. For Vegas, he has continued his success, becoming the leader in points with 34 in 33 games this season. He has been the team’s hottest player in their past five games, recording eight points in those five games. The Leafs need to be aware of Marchessault, as he can doesn’t need a lot of space to hurt the opposition.

Watchability Scale:

Unlike the other two games on this road trip, I am excited for this game. The atmosphere should be intense with a lot of Leaf fans in attendance. I am counting on the Leafs to be a different version of themselves than how they’ve played this road trip. If they bring their A game, this should be a really fun matchup against two of the games best half way through the season. If the Leafs continue to play like how they have on this road trip, Vegas will be welcoming 2018 on a winning note

Lines:  

Toronto:

Hyman - Matthews - Nylander

Komarov - Marleau - Brown

JVR - Bozak - Marner

Martin - Moore - Leivo

Reilly - Hainsey

Gardiner - Marincin

Borgman - Polak

Andersen

Vegas:

Perron - Haula - Neal

Smith - Karlsson - Marchessault

Leipsic - Eakin - Tuch

Lindberg - Bellemare - Nosek

McNabb - Schmidt

Engelland - Theodore

Merrill - Miller

Subban