Newly acquired defenseman Jake Muzzin makes his Toronto Maple Leafs debut tonight as the Canadian team faces the Detroit Red Wings. Head coach Mike Babcock made important changes, especially on the blue line, to make sure to pack a punch and offer Muzzin the best opportunity to thrive with his new teammates.
After practice on Thursday and earlier today, it looks like Muzzin will make his debut on the left side of Morgan Rielly, as Ron Hainsey moves down to the bottom pair with Travis Dermott. Muzzin is also looking to get some power play time on the second unit beside Jake Gardiner.
When asked about changing back to his off side, Reilly did not seem nervous about the transition.
"When me and Ron were together I'd oftentimes end up on that side anyway," Rielly said to NHL's Nick Cotsonika. "So it's just a matter of being comfortable with your partner, talking lots, making sure we know what the deal is, and over time we'll smooth it out. I'm sure it might take a game or two, but that's expected. …
"It just takes time. We're both pretty excited. I think that helps. I mean, he wants to win. We talked once over the break and we talked a lot today, obviously. He's happy to be playing for a team that's motivated and in a position to win games. I mean, that adds to it as well. It makes it a bit easier, I suppose."
We will see how easy the transition will be after tonight's matchup. As for now, here are the lines used during practice this morning ahead of the game against the Red Wings:
Patrick Marleau-Auston Matthews-Mitch Marner
Zach Hyman-John Tavares-Kasperi Kapanen
Connor Brown-Nazem Kadri-William Nylander
Par Lindholm-Frederik Gauthier-Andreas Johnsson
Jake Muzzin-Morgan Rielly
Jake Gardiner-Nikita Zaitsev
Travis Dermott-Ron Hainsey