Babcock shuffles Leafs’ D pairings for Sin City showdown

The Leafs bench boss jumbles up his blue line yet again for tonight’s game.

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Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock doesn’t prescribe to the “don’t mess with a winning lineup” mentality. Despite going 6-3-1 in their past 10 games and earning a 5-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night, Babcock has elected to shake up his defence pairings for tonights’ game against the Vegas Golden Knights.

The forward lines are expected to stay the same as they did Tuesday night and should line up like this:

Hyman - Tavares - Marner
Marleau - Matthews - Kapanen
Johnsson - Kadri - Nylander
Lindholm - Gauthier - Brown

On defence however, Babcock has elected to shift Travis Dermott over to the right side to play alongside Jake Gardiner, while Nikita Zaitsev plays the right side on a pairing with Gardiner. Morgan Rielly and Ron Hainsey take their usual spots on the Leafs’ top pairing.

Here’s how that all shakes down:

Rielly - Hainsey
Muzzin - Zaitsev
Gardiner - Dermott

“They’re a tough team to play against in general, so as a team we need to make sure of all the little details in the neutral zone so we can break out fast,” said Gardiner to the media ahead of tonight’s game.

"We need to have numbers,” explained Babcock when talking about his strategy for tonight’s game. “We need to have five available. What I mean by that is if you’re available, don’t be quiet. Talk and want the puck and then it’s going to take more than one pass."

Frederik Andersen gets the start in goal and puck drop is a LATE one tonight. 10pm ET puck drop form Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena.