Some new responsibilities for some of the Maple Leafs, who have shuffled up their forward units in preparation for tonight’s game against the Buffalo Sabres.
It looks like Carter Ashton may make his season debut, sitting out for the entire season as a healthy scratch.
“Carter has been a great soldier,” said Leafs head coach Randy Carlyle. “He’s come to work, he hasn’t complained and he’s done everything we’ve asked of him.”
Carlyle did hint there is still a possibility that the Leafs will go with 11 forwards for the third consecutive game. That would require a call up from the Marlies, with the Leafs only having six defenceman on their roster as of this writing.
The adjustment of lines means new responsibilities for the likes of Joffrey Lupul. When he was on a line with Nazem Kadri and Daniel Winnik, his responsibilities were different. Now situated with Kadri and Phil Kessel, the absence of Winnik means Lupul will be deeper on the forecheck, being the first to the net.
It should be a lively atmosphere at Air Canada Centre with Josh Gorges’ arrival. The Buffalo Sabres defenceman made headlines, admitting to refusing a trade to Toronto, largely due to his allegiance to Montreal in their classic rivalry.
“This is always an energetic building to play in” recalled Gorges when he suited up for the Habs. There’s always lots of noise, lots of emotion.”
No doubt a lot of emotion will be directed at the Buffalo defencemen, who fully expects to be booed tonight.
Jonathan Bernier will get the nod in goal for the Maple Leafs. This will be his fourth consecutive start in goal, the most of any goaltender on the team this season.
There will be a slightly different look the Leafs power-play. Jake Gardiner will now be paired with Cody Franson while Dion Phaneuf will pair up with Morgan Rielly on the unit.
“At times we’ve become too predictable” Carlyle said.
The Leafs have gone five straight games without a power-play goal. Meanwhile the Sabres have yet to score a power-play goal this season.
The Sabres are coming of a 2-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks.
Michal Neuvirth will counter in goal for Buffalo.
Projected Leafs Lines
Ashton-Holland-Frattin. Extra: Panik