The Toronto Maple Leafs are looking to enter the Christmas holiday on a four-win strike when they offer the Detroit Red Wings to the Scotiabank Arena (at 19:30, Sportsnet).
Suddenly, the leaves have lost two of their left wing injuries, an area they already lacked depth (relatively speaking) to begin with. Zach Hyman will miss at least three weeks with an MCL sprain while Tyler Ennis broke his ankle tonight against New York.
As a result, Trevor Moore, the undrafted wing who signed Leafs after a camp invitation in 2016, will make his NHL debut tonight. His 17 goals in 27 AHL games this year lead Marlies and sit bound for another in AHL. Although it may be surprising to some, those who have followed the player's story may know that he has a preference for exceeding expectations.
Coming into the rookie camp in 2016, Moore was a relatively no name. Eventually he was the only player from the camp to sign an ELC with the team outside Mitch Marner and Adam Brooks. Here's a quote from Marlies head coach Sheldon Keefe back in 2017 when Moore still fought for a roster place:
We are talking about improvement from the start of the season. The guys I'm looking at are Timashov and Moore. There are two young first-year players who really struggled at the start of the season. Much of it was through lack of opportunity. Suddenly, going from top players to other teams to the reality of playing lower in the lineup and really having to fight for your minutes and competing for your minutes and being good defensive, I very much think they caught them away. They weren't close honestly, but they were stuck and when injuries came and they got more opportunities they showed they were ready for it and took advantage of these opportunities and were better players because of it down the line.
These days, Keefe Moore praises one of the team's best defensive forward and often mentions his good head to the game and his puck pursuit traces back through the neutral zone. Offensively, he is a skilled, shiny, persistent player who can push the pace through neutral ice. The challenge comes in making plenty of influence in limited minutes, but with the long-term nature of Hyman and Ennis's injuries, he will likely receive a good game here to acclimatize the league and role. His jump will be needed as soon as tonight for a magazine team playing the other one of a back-to-back pre-pause, although remember that Moore himself plays his third game for so many nights after Marlies & # 39; back-to-back against Laval.
In other lineup news, Justin Holl enters his second game of the season tonight, replacing Martin Marincin. Holl can never play regularly for Mike Babcock when the full defensive complement is available for Leaf's head coach (Igor Ozhiganov is still struggling with a disease), but he is able to take a competent NHL shift and move the puck effectively enough, which may be necessary later on damage is the cause of a team with design in a deep run this season, especially knowing that it is a position of relative weakness of the organization (RHD). Mixing Holl in to keep him engaged and in something resembling game form, gives a lot of meaning with an eye to stretch running and hopefully lots of Spring Hockey.
As for the opponent tonight, Maple Leafs must remember from their 5-4 OT losses a few weeks ago that while the Detroit Red Wings does not measure in terms of star force or depth of field and really shatter damage, they tend to work hard most nights. They have lost more than they have won, but they have been in virtually every game over the last two months.
The Red Wings also really seemed to face the challenge last time in Toronto. Kasperi Kapanen scored to take the early lead, but the leaves then admitted four unanswered, necessitating a big third-period comeback just to save a point. If the leaves can keep their thoughts on the task at hand and keep their work pausing, in addition to receiving a competent view from Garret Sparks in back-to-back, this should be two points in the bank.
Game Day Quotes
Mike Babcock at Trevor Moore:
He had a good training camp, good start to last year. Jim Palliafito made him get out of college there. He was a good player and it took him a while to adjust to the pro level. He is scored down there in the first half of the year. I think it's important that he continues to score down so he knows he's a score. Right now with the injuries he gets an opportunity so we can see if our depth is as good as we say it is.
Q: Will he play a scoreline tonight?
Babcock: Each line is a scoring line. When you go out on the ice and you have the puck and you play in the offensive, you have a chance to score, yes.
Babcock on the team's last three wins:
The bottom line for us as a group – and I have said so many times – is that we have to learn to play properly all the time. Just over and over again, put on your work boots and carry the other team out. When we play correctly, we are a cargo to handle. When we do not, we can quickly become frustrated.
Trevor Moore on his journey since sign with the leaves:
I want to come a long way. You can assign it to the training staff here and the development staff. We work a lot with Marlies on many different things, so I want to get far.
There are many lessons. I played the last two nights and I play here again tonight. You learn about three-in-three in the US league. You learn about no holidays and will always be prepared.
Toronto Maple Leafs Projected Lines
# 12 Patrick Marleau – # 34 Auston Matthews – # 24 Kasperi Kapanen
# 18 Andreas Johnsson – # 91 John Tavares – # 16 Mitch Marner
# 28 Connor Brown – # 43 Nazem Kadri – # 29 William Nylander
# 26 Couple Lindholm – # 33 Frederik Gauthier – # 42 Trevor Moore
# 44 Morgan Rielly – # 2 Ron Hainsey
# 51 Jake Gardiner – # 22 Nikita Zaitsev
# 23 Travis Dermott – # 3 Justin Holl
# 40 Garret Sparks
# 31 Frederik Andersen
injuries: Igor Ozhiganov (disease), Zach Hyman (MCL), Tyler Ennis (broken ankle)
scratched: Martin Marincin
Detroit Red Wings Projected Lines
# 14 Gustav Nyquist – # 71 Dylan Larkin – # 8 Justin Abdelkader
# 59 Tyler Bertuzzi – # 51 Frans Nielsen – # 41 Luke Glendening
# 70 Christoffer Ehn – # 61 Jacob De La Rose – # 27 Michael Rasmussen
# 26 Thomas Vanek – # 22 Wade Megan – # 42 Martin Frk
# 55 Niklas Kronwall – # 3 Nick Jensen
# 21 Dennis Cholowski – # 82 Trevor Daley
# 52 Jonathan Ericsson – # 17 Philip Hronek
# 45 Jonathan Bernier
# 35 Jimmy Howard
scratched: Mike Green, Anthony Mantha, Danny Dekeyser, Andreas Athanasiou, Evgeny Svechnikov