In this edition of Toronto Maple Leafs’ Player Moves, I’ll take a look at some of the changes the team is making as it prepares to play its last game of the season. Because Auston Matthews has scored his 60th goal; and, because the team has successfully wrapped up second place and home-ice advantage for the start of the postseason playoffs, there’s not much reason at all to play all the starters.
Tonight’s game against the Boston Bruins will be a game of rest for some of the key players on the Maple Leafs’ team. In this post, I’ll try to help Maple Leafs’ fans keep up to date on some of those changes.
Item One: Michael Bunting Skated Prior to Practice
We already know that Michael Bunting will not play tonight; however, it’s good news that he’s skating again. When he was first injured – what is called an “undisclosed” injury, but was obviously a lower-body injury – it wasn’t clear how injured he really was. It seems as if he’s going to be OK, which is good news for the team and the organization. He’ll be needed during the postseason.
When asked how Bunting was doing, Maple Leafs’ head coach Sheldon Keefe noted that “I don’t have an official word on what his plan might be.” Keefe quickly added that the coaching staff was “happy that he’s remained on the ice and that the sessions have been positive.”
Item Two: Mitch Marner Will Sit Friday’s Game
In addition to Bunting being away from tonight’s game, the news was that Mitch Marner won’t play tonight in the regular-season finale either. Too bad in a way because Marner’s sitting – which, by the way, I support as a fan – means that he won’t have a chance to reach the century mark for points on the season.
However, the risk of an injury in what is essentially a meaningless game is a far wiser move than having him go at the 100-point mark. That means that, as it stands right now, Marner will effectively end his season with a career-high 35 goals and 42 assists (for 97 points) on the season.
Item Three: Auston Matthews Will Rest Tonight
It was obvious that, when Matthews hit the 60-goal mark against the Detroit Red Wings, he wouldn’t play tonight in the season’s finale. He’ll sit with Marner as well as Jack Campbell.
Amazingly, Matthews will finish the 2021-22 regular season by scoring 60 goals and adding 46 assists (for 106 points) in 73 games.
Item Four: John Tavares Might Play Tonight, But It Isn’t Clear
As the game approaches tonight, it remains unclear in captain John Tavares will or won’t play tonight. He sat out a game earlier this week, but he might or might not draw into the game this evening. The last I’ve read is that no decision has been made.
Item Five: Erik Kallgren Will Get the Last Start of the Season
What a season for Erik Kallgren. He started the season well down the Maple Leafs’ goalie list, but now he’s the team’s regular backup goalie. He’s had some great games and has impressed fans of the team. Tonight, he gets the team’s last start of the season.
Kallgren’s last start was solid. He beat the Washington Capitals last Sunday. He’s going after his eighth win of the 2021-22 season tonight. Good luck to him.
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