The story of the day is the loss of 3 major players for the Leafs.
Zach Hyman is day-to-day after blocking a shot, Joe Thornton is also day-to-day (undisclosed injury) and, worst of all, Jake Muzzin has a broken bone in his face after taking a high stick from Tyler Toffoli. There’s no word on how long Muzzin will be out, but they know he’ll have to wear a full shield when he does return to play.
In their stead we will see Mikko Lehtonen, Nic Petan and Alex Barabanov. While Lehtonen and Petan have looked okay in their small showings so far, Alex Barabanov hasn’t done much to impress. I’ll be looking for him to show something of value tonight.
Meanwhile, Travis Dermott will get extra reps with Muzzin out. Considering the numbers game the Leafs face going into the Seattle expansion draft, this could really help or hurt the organization. It’s possible that they move on from Dermott in order to get extra help up front at the trade deadline, in which case if he does well with extra responsibility he’ll have heightened trade value. On the flip side, if he doesn’t have a good showing it could tank his trade value and force the Leafs to make unwanted moves at the deadline and expansion draft.
The last time the Leafs and Flames saw each other there was quite a bit of drama to end the game:
Further to that, Johnny Gaudreau said that he’s sure that Tkachuk would “get the Leafs back” for what happened. Forgetting, apparently, that Tkachuk gave a vicious knee to the back of Jack Campbell’s head during the game previous. By my count the two teams are even, but what do I know?
With all of this in mind it has some fans (myself included) asking why they aren’t willing to insert Scott Sabourin into the lineup. Sabourin is a player that can look out for his teammates and this may be just the game where a guy like that could be useful. We all know Tkachuk is willing to play dirty, no matter what he and his coach say. so having a response for that could be a good idea:
The main thing will be taking another 2pts in the standings. The hope is that nothing will come from the drama and the team will skate to a win.
Enjoy the game.
GO LEAFS GO!!
It appears that Frederik Andersen is also on the injured list and won’t play tonight:
Hopefully Freddy won’t be out long, as the Leafs depth in goal isn’t very strong.