Report: Leafs make surprising lineup change for Game 7 tonight

This is quite a gamble by head coach Mike Babcock... will it pay off?

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Tonight, hockey fans in Toronto, Boston and indeed all across Canada and the United States will be treated to the best thing in sports: Game Seven.

The Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins will face off tonight at TD Garden in Boston for the penultimate game of their opening round series in a winner take all Game 7. After building a commanding 3-1 series lead, the Bruins have dropped two straight games and now find themselves tied 3-3 with the young and plucky Leafs. No matter which side you’re on… tonight’s game is sure to be an absolute BEAUTY!

Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy has already revealed his lineup this afternoon, confirming that rookie Danton Heinen will suit up in place of veteran Tommy Wingels on the team’s third line. Rookie sensation Ryan Donato will also sit out tonight’s game as the Bruins go with a forward group that looks like this:

For those not on Twitter, here’s how the B’s are expected to line up at forward tonight:

Marchand - Bergeron - Pastrnak
DeBrusk - Krejci - Rick Nash
Heinen - Riley Nash - Backes
Schaller - Kuraly - Acciari

No changes expected on defense from Game 6, so expect the Chara/McAvoy, Krug/Miller and Grzelcyk/McQuaid pairings to remain intact. 

As for the Leafs, head coach Mike Babcock wasn’t sharing many details this morning when he met with reporters, but according to a report from The Athletic’s Jonas Siegel, it’s expected that center Nazem Kadri will move up the lineup from the third line to the second line, bumping veteran Tomas Plekanec back down a spot. Tyler Bozak, the team’s usual third line center has been demoted to the fourth line.

Hyman - Matthews - Brown
Marleau - Kadri - Marner
Johnsson - Plekanec - Nylander
Van Riemsdyk - Bozak - Kapanen

It’s also worth noting that veteran Leo Komarov, back to full health following a lower body injury, will be a healthy scratch for tonight’s critical game. Ballsy move by coach Babcock to sit one of his most trusted and loyal players. 

Will the gamble pay off? There’s no denying that the Bruins have had difficulty dealing with the Leafs’ youth, energy and speed this series, so it’s tough to fault the veteran head coach for going with rookie Andreas Johnsson over Komarov. Again… will it pay off? Time will tell.