Red Wings Preview: Rivalry Renewed in Toronto Tonight

Octopus Thrower

Tonight, the Detroit Red Wings are heading to Canada to renew their original six rivalry with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The rivalry was temporarily suspended last year, as the teams were separated by the updated divisions because of COVID-19. December 21,  2019 was the last time the two faced off. The Leafs skated away with a 4-1 home win over the Red Wings.

However, Toronto isn’t playing that same (very bad) 2019-20 Detroit squad – the Wings are off to a solid start, propelled by rookies Moritz Seider and Lucas Raymond, as well as other members of the core.

The Maple Leafs

Project lineup, according to NHL.com

Michael Bunting — Auston Matthews — William Nylander

Alexander Kerfoot — John Tavares — Mitchell Marner

Pierre Engvall — David Kampf – Ondrej Kase

Nick Ritchie — Jason Spezza — Wayne Simmonds

Morgan Rielly — Travis Dermott

Jake Muzzin — TJ Brodie

Rasmus Sandin — Timothy Liljegren

Petr Mrazek

Jack Campbell

The Leafs are treading water right now. It’s too early in the season to write off such a talented roster, but through eight games, they have struggled to live up to pre-season expectations. The pressure is especially high after an early departure from last year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs.

William Nylander leads the team in points (three goals and three assists). Auston Matthews is off to a slow start, nabbing just a goal and an assist through five games. However, the talented center missed the start of the season recovering from wrist surgery. He’s always a threat to watch on the ice, and he’s bound to pick up steam sometime soon.

Toronto will start Former Red Wings goaltender Petr Mrazek between the pipes after missing six games due to a groin injury,

The Red Wings

Projected lineup, according to NHL.com

Vladislav Namestnikov — Dylan Larkin — Lucas Raymond

Robby Fabbri — Pius Suter — Filip Zadina

Sam Gagner — Michael Rasmussen — Adam Erne

Carter Rowney — Mitchell Stephens — Givani Smith

Danny DeKeyser — Moritz Seider

Nick Leddy — Filip Hronek

Marc Staal — Troy Stecher

Thomas Greiss

Alex Nedeljkovic

The Red Wings will be without their leading goal scorer Tyler Bertuzzi due to his continued refusal to be vaccinated against COVID-19. He is the only player in the NHL that has yet to take the jab (some are in the process of becoming fully vaccinated).

Joe Veleno has been called up after a good start with the Grand Rapids Griffins – his three goals currently lead the team. It’s unclear if Veleno will start in the lineup tonight. If he does, he could find himself in a familiar role at center, or as a winger among the bottom-six. Either way, the addition of Veleno continues the youth movement that seems to finally be arriving in Detroit.

The Red Wings will have to lean on some depth scoring, as the highly effective top-line will be missing Bertuzzi. The second line has had a quiet start to the year after a pretty successful preseason – they’ll be key for the Wings tonight.

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