Drop the Puck Already: Toronto Maple Leafs' Preseason Opener

Louis PisanoAnalyst ISeptember 16, 2009

TORONTO - MARCH 28:  Milan Lucic of the Boston Bruins fights with Phil Oreskovic #40 of the Toronto Maple Leafs during the NHL game at the Air Canada Centre on March 28, 2009 in Toronto, Ontario. (Photo by: Dave Sandford/Getty Images)

The NHL is back and the long wait is over...at least for the preseason, which got underway last night.

The rush of adrenaline, as the puck drops, will soon be pumping throughout Leaf Nation.

The Leafs host the 2008-09 regular season Eastern Conference champion Boston Bruins in their first preseason game at the ACC tonight. The Bruins beat the New York Rangers Tuesday night, 2-1.

I’ll be at hand to see the "new look" Leafs take on the Bruins.

Boston feasted on the Leafs last year, holding a record of 5-1 against Toronto, in mostly high scoring games, though the Leafs took the first regular season meeting, while losing one game in an overtime shootout.

What the lineup will be for the Leafs, we can only speculate, but up front, Tyler Bozak should get his first shift in the NHL tonight, albeit preseason. Jiri Tlusty, Christian Hanson, and Rickard Wallin all who have seen some time at the NHL level, should receive playing time, along with the mainstays from last year.

First-round draft pick Nazim Kadri is not listed on the Leafs roster, so it looks as though he might be down in the AHL for the year, but there is always a chance he may get an opportunity at some point this year.

On the backend, I am hoping on seeing my buddy from the Marlies, Phil Oreskovic, get an early look, as his showing last year was a good one. In 10 games, he had one goal and one assist, along with three fights (Andre Roy, Tim Jackman, and Milan Lucic-who he may get a chance at again tonight).

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New additions Francois Beauchemin, Mike Komisarek, and perhaps Garnet Exelby should see ice time tonight and give us a taste of the hard hitting season Leaf Nation has been drooling over in the offseason.

After minor heart surgery the "Monster" Jonas Gustavsson will be watching from the press box, and I would expect Vesa Toskala to be starting, with Joey MacDonald as the backup, who will most likely find himself down with the Marlies for the majority of the season, barring any injuries to the Leafs net minders.

All-in-all, it's just the first preseason game, but I would think that Coach Ron Wilson and GM Brian Burke, along with the team, will still want to set a tone for the season especially against a division rival.

Look for tomorrow's recap and analogy.

Go Leafs Go!

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