In this post, I’m going to take a closer look at the return of Toronto Maple Leafs’ forward Ryan O’Reilly. After missing a month with his broken finger, O’Reilly is set to make his comeback tonight against the Boston Bruins.
There’s no doubt that Maple Leafs’ fans are eager to see him back in action. He took the town by storm when he arrived, both as a player and as a class act. He’s a talented player with lots of playoff experience. As a result, the team is looking for him to become a key contributor to the team’s success this postseason.
In fact, his return is coming at a good time. Given that the team has only a few games remaining, it will give O’Reilly a chance to get his skating legs back. It will also give head coach Sheldon Keefe a chance to get him involved with the team.
Related: Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Woll, ZAR, O’Reilly & Gustafsson
Where Might O’Reilly Fit into the Maple Leafs’ Lineup?
As the regular season draws to a close and the playoffs loom on the horizon, it’s either a good time to be a Maple Leafs’ fan; or, there’s always a bit of dread in one’s stomach. Given the team’s recent history of not being able to make it out of the first round both feelings are plausible.
Perhaps O’Reilly can help ensure the team advances further into the postseason than they have in the past.
Today at practice, coach Keefe skated O’Reilly to center the team’s third line. From my perspective, it’s a perfect play for him to play. It helps give the team three scoring lines. He is partnered with Alex Kerfoot on the left wing and former teammate with the St. Louis Blues Noel Acciari on the right wing.
O’Reilly has expressed his excitement about getting back on the ice. He’s also credited the Maple Leafs’ development team and skills coaches for helping him stay in shape during his time off.
Fans are eager to see him back in action and hope that he will continue to perform at a high level as the Leafs compete for a deep playoff run.
In the following interview, O’Reilly can be seen talking to the media about his return. He looks happy to be back into game action.
Key Points About O’Reilly’s Return
The key points emerging from the video are these:
First, Maple Leafs forward Ryan O’Reilly will return to the lineup for the team’s game against the Bruins tonight in Boston.
Second, O’Reilly is excited to have five regular season games left to get back up to speed for the playoffs.
Third, O’Reilly feels great and didn’t even notice any setbacks during practice. He came thru unmarked from his first contact.
Fourth, O’Reilly gives credit to the development team and skills coaches for helping him stay in shape and work on his skating during his time off.
Fifth, O’Reilly acknowledges that being out of the lineup for a while was frustrating, but he’s looking forward to playing again and has a positive outlook.
Related: Three Takeaways from Maple Leafs 4-3 Win Over Blue Jackets
The Bottom Line and the Promise O’Reilly Brings to the Team
With just a few games left in the regular season, the Maple Leafs’ depth is looking stronger this season than it has for many in the recent past. I believe the team is poised to make a deep playoff run.
There’s a lot to be excited about as O’Reilly suits up again for the team. He can make a difference in helping this iteration of the Maple Leafs become even more productive.
With O’Reilly’s return to the lineup, the team is looking even stronger and more formidable than ever. O’Reilly brings a ton of experience, skill, and leadership that promises to help the team be better prepared for a deep playoff run.
He might just be a difference-maker for this team.
Related: MAPLE LEAFS’ RANDOM THOUGHTS: LIGHTNING, BRUINS & MATTHEWS
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