Preview: Red-Hot Leafs Take on Devils

For the Toronto Maple Leafs, it’s simple. A win tonight against the New Jersey Devils is a must have if they want to all but solidify a spot in this year’s NHL postseason. The two teams will face-off tonight at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto.

For the Devils, it’s the home stretch of a season that just didn’t work out in their favour. For the Leafs, it’s a season that has defined their rebuild and devotion to the new youth movement. Still, the Leafs can’t take their opponent lightly.

The Devils still have 27 wins this season with some high-calibre players. Taylor Hall and Kyle Palmieri have led the way for the Devils this season. Palmieri has 25 goals and 49 points to lead the team with Hall heading up the assist-department with 30.

On the other side of it, the Leafs’ Auston Matthews is one goal away from tying the franchise record for a rookie (Wendel Clark’s 34 goals) and William Nylander needs a point of any kind to set another Leafs’ rookie record with a 10-game point streak.

New Jersey Devils at Toronto Maple Leafs

Air Canada Centre – 7:30 p.m. EST

Broadcast channels – SNO and MSG+

2016-17 Season Series:
November 23 – Devils 5 – Maple Leafs 4 (SO)
January 6 – Maple Leafs 4 – Devils 2

New Jersey Devils – 27-33-12 – 66 Points

Road Record: 12-19-6

Hot Players: Kyle Palmieri, Taylor Hall and Joseph Blandisi

Key Injuries: Devante Smith-Pelly, Mike Cammalleri and Jacob Josefson

Projected Lines:


Taylor Hall-Travis Zajac-Kyle Palmieri

Joseph Blandisi-Adam Henrique-Beau Bennett

John Quenneville-Pavel Zacha-Stefan Noesen

Miles Wood-Blake Coleman-Nick Lappin


Andy Greene-Ben Lovejoy

Jon Merrill-Steven Santini

John Moore-Damon Severson


Cory Schneider (expected)

Toronto Maple Leafs – 34-23-15 – 83 Points

Home Record: 18-10-7

Hot Players: William Nylander, Tyler Bozak, Morgan Rielly, James van Riemsdyk and Nazem Kadri

Key Injuries: Nikita Soshnikov and Joffrey Lupul

Projected Lines:


Zach Hyman-Auston Matthews-William Nylander

Leo Komarov-Nazem Kadri-Connor Brown

James van Riemsdyk-Tyler Bozak-Mitch Marner

Matt Martin-Brian Boyle-Josh Leivo


Morgan Rielly-Connor Carrick

Jake Gardiner-Nikita Zaitsev

Matt Hunwick-Alexey Marchenko


Curtis McElhinney

Game Notes

[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]1)[/miptheme_dropcap]Likely thanks to his days with the Flyers, James van Riemsdyk leads all current Leafs’ players in  career points (17), goals (9) and assists (8) against the Devils.

Leo Komarov, NHL, Toronto Maple Leafs
Leo Komarov has found a way to get under the skin of his opponents in a big way this season. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]2)[/miptheme_dropcap]There are a number of Leafs facing upcoming milestones. Leo Komarov needs just two points to reach 100 for his career. Matt Martin is also just three points away from hitting the centennial mark in his career. With a win on Thursday, Curtis McElhinney will be one away from hitting 50 in his career.

[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]3)[/miptheme_dropcap]This will be the 137th matchup between the Devils and Maple Leafs. The Leafs hold an all-time record of 68-39-20-9 against the Devils. Over that span, they are 44-16-5-4 at home when New Jersey is in town.

[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]4)[/miptheme_dropcap]New Jersey will have to stay out of the box, as the Leafs hold the second best power play percentage at 23.8 percent success rate. The Devils are just 80.5 percent on the penalty kill which is tied for 17th in the NHL.

The Devils have a chance to play spoiler now that their season is basically over. With a big game happening between the Lightning and Bruins, the Leafs have to grab two points from New Jersey if they want to better their chances of locking down a playoff spot.