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Game Day Update- Red Wings at Maple Leafs: Key Match Ups, Lineup Updates

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Alexey Marchenko faces his old team for the first time, as new faces try to jumpstart the struggling Leafs.

NHL: Montreal Canadiens at Toronto Maple Leafs John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Some questions about tonight’s lineup, as Gustav Nyquist didn’t skate yesterday due to a stomach bug while Mitch Callahan took his place. Nyquist took part in today’s morning skate, but will still be considered a gametime decision... just like everyone else I suppose.

As reported in the Morning Skate, Nyquist will be slotted on Henrik Zetterberg’s wing next to Tatar if things are kept the same as they were this morning.

Key Match Ups

Matt Martin Shouldn’t Be Startin’

While the Detroit media celebrates and prop up the gritty types due to some bizarre, nostalgic, infantilization of the Grind Line, the Toronto fans and media are making it clear they do not miss Colton Orr. Mike Babcock’s decision to keep fourth-liner and recently minted signing, Matt Martin in the lineup has come under scrutiny. Youngster Josh Leivo has 9 points in 12 games but will be sitting tonight, theoretically in favor of Martin who has 7 points in 64 games. Not quite a comparable ratio. As the Leafs fall flat in a recent losing streak with the playoffs on the line, the persistent pressure on this team has gone from simmering to a boil. Soon, it could be a grease fire. Martin’s spot has understandably been a target begging the simple question; why not have as much skill in your lineup as possible? This is a stark departure from Babcock receiving zero heat for his previous bottom six decisions in Detroit. Good luck, Mike. The only way to go in Toronto is up!

Tougher Look For Toronto

Even if Martin were to be pulled from the lineup, it wouldn’t be without toughness. The Leafs had a busy deadline acquiring Eric Fehr and Brian Boyle. The big vets come with Stanley Cup experience but also provide a bit of a scoring touch with 34 points between the two. Boyle has been a nemesis of the Wings. Of course we remember him menacing through the Wings past two playoff appearances. He was a savvy acquisition for the Leafs who could use some productive experience to balance out the glut of youth that’s seeming a bit overwhelmed with playoffs in sight. Fehr—acquired for maligned prospect Frank Corrado, and is projected to be a healthy scratch tonight—should eventually add some quality toughness as an ideal bottom six force come playoff time. Fehr was a 20 goal scorer with Washington and hit double-digit goals five times in his career. When they’re ready to insert him (ummmm maybe in Martin’s place?) he’ll make an impact.

Marchenko Settling In

The Red Wings were up against another cap and roster crisis, being forced to waive a player to make room when Brendan Smith returned. They chose to put Marchenko on waivers, controversially, maybe not coincidentally after his consultant, errr um fan (?), hockey super agent and power broker Dan Milstein criticized Blashill’s handling of him on Twitter. Toronto pounced on the young right shooting defenseman. Marchenko sat the first month he was with the organization, but has played the past five games (all loses) receiving mostly second pairing time. He peaked with 20 minutes of ice vs. the Kings. On a roster with Morgan Rielly and Jake Gardinder, Marchenko will fit in as a puck mover. He’s yet to score this season and hasn’t generated many shots, but he can make the first pass. He’s going to work for them as a solid bottom to middle pair defenseman. Unfortunately we know what tools he possesses that Detroit lost. It was a smart pickup for Toronto, one of many they continue to make around the brilliant core they’ve drafted.