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Leafs, Devils square off in battle of early unbeatens
Wednesday, October 11, 2017
Latest Line: New Jersey +165 O/U: 6
 
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TORONTO -- The Toronto Maple Leafs are undefeated so far, but so are the New Jersey Devils.

It makes Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock wary of the clubs' meeting Wednesday night at the Air Canada Centre, referring to it as a possible "trap game."

The Maple Leafs are 3-0-0 after coming back to defeat the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3 in overtime on Monday night, with Auston Matthews notching the winner.

The Devils are 2-0-0 after their 6-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Monday afternoon.

"(Wednesday) can be a trap game because you (might) think New Jersey hasn't been as good," Babcock said after practice Tuesday. "I don't know if you've been watching, but they're flying. The forwards create speed, they are playing a tight game, they are doing a good job in the neutral zone and the D zone. It's one of those games where you've got to be prepared.

"They think they're good. They had a great exhibition (season)."

The Maple Leafs have scored 19 goals, the most for the first three games of a season in franchise history since 1917-18, when they were known as the Toronto Arenas and scored 27 goals in their opening three games.

Toronto, however, has allowed 10 goals.

The Devils have scored a total of 10 goals while allowing only three in wins over the Colorado Avalanche and the Sabres.

The young and talented Maple Leafs will pose a different kind of test for the Devils, who finished last in the Metropolitan Division last season with a 28-40-14 record.

"I think every game is a test in this league," Devils coach John Hynes said on Tuesday after practice. "It doesn't matter who it is. This was a (Toronto) team that was in the playoffs last year and is projected to be a playoff team this year. That's a different level of team that people have projected us to be. So, I think when we talk about tests, it's quite a different test."

One of the revelations of the new season for the Devils has been left winger Jesper Bratt, a sixth-round pick (No. 162 overall) in the 2016 draft. He is the first player in franchise history to have five points in his first two games. The 19-year-old Swede has three goals and two assists in his first season playing in North America.

He has, at least for now, overshadowed 18-year-old Swiss center Nico Hischier, the first pick overall in this year's draft, who picked up his first NHL point, an assist, in the game against the Sabres.

"We came into this year saying that the last couple of years wasn't good enough," Hynes said. "It doesn't matter who you are, older guy, younger guy, high draft, low draft, free agent, tryout player, we're going to play the best guys. We want guys who are going to come in and help turn this thing around."

The Devils will not know the status or Kyle Palmieri and Drew Stafford, who both sustained lower-body injuries Saturday and missed the game Monday, until Wednesday.

Both skated before practice on Tuesday. Palmieri took part in the full practice while Stafford did not.

Toronto defenseman Connor Carrick will miss his second straight game with an upper-body injury.

Frederik Andersen will start in goal for the Maple Leafs. He is 3-0-0 with a .949 save percentage in his career against the Devils.

Goalie Cory Schneider is expected to start for New Jersey. In 10 career games against Toronto, he is 6-1-3 with a .925 save percentage.

The Maple Leafs have not started a season at 4-0-0 since 2010-11, when they won their first four before losing their next three.

 


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