The Toronto Maple Leafs will face a frustrated Philadelphia Flyers team tonight. The Flyers are coming off a great game against the New York Rangers where they were beaten 1-0 in overtime. Flyers’ goalie Carter Hart was amazing last night. During the game, he stopped 35 shots until Chris Kreider scored with less than a minute left in overtime.
For the Maple Leafs, head coach Sheldon Keefe looks to right the ship after a far less-than-effective western road trip. The team won in Winnipeg but then lost four games in a row – including two in overtime.
There were a number of changes in Tuesday’s practice; but, mostly to the team’s depth. Assuming yesterday’s practice is what we’ll see tonight, what fans see here represents what they will likely see come game time.
The team will be trying to rebound from a 4-3 overtime loss at the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday. In that game, which seems far away now – given what’s happened in between with all the chomping of the media. In that game, the Maple Leafs went ahead 3-1 on a Calle Jarnkrok short-handed goal. Then the young Ducks came back to tie the score and then win in overtime.
It was the team’s fourth straight-road game loss. Hard to lose a two-goal lead.
Related: Is Bruins’ Coaching Change Bad News for Maple Leafs’ Keefe?
There will be a number of changes among the forward units. However, those changes won’t start with that team’s first line or top six. Thus far, the first line is underperforming – given what we are used to. Neither Auston Matthews is producing at a point-a-game pace. In fact, Matthews is tied with David Kampf for third in goals on the three goals.
Marner is a point ahead of Matthews in the statistics; and, although he’s playing lots of minutes, he clearly hasn’t found his A-Game every night. Against the Ducks, he was benched for a shift because he coughed up two pucks which directly led to Ducks’ goals.
Bunting hasn’t had a point in four games. So, it’s back to normal for coach Keefe. Bunting, Matthews, and Marner will be the team’s first line.
Related: 3 Questions the Maple Leafs Should Answer This Week
Tuesday’s Offensive Line Combinations from Practice
|Left Wing||Center||Right Wing|
|MICHAEL BUNTING||AUSTON MATTHEWS||MITCH MARNER|
|ALEXANDER KERFOOT||JOHN TAVARES||WILLIAM NYLANDER|
|PIERRE ENGVALL||PONTUS HOLMBERG||CALLE JARNKROK|
|ZACH ASTON-REESE||DAVID KAMPF||DENIS MALGIN|
The team’s most flexible skater, Alex Kerfoot, will be on the second-line left wing with John Tavares and William Nylander. Nick Robertson will be a healthy scratch.
The team’s third line welcomes Pontus Holmberg in the center. After solid and reliable preseason, Holmberg looks to make his NHL debut tonight. Calle Jarnkrok will move to the right-wing position, and Pierre Engvall will join them on the left wing.
The fourth line will also see some changes. Zach Aston-Reese will be at the left-wing spot, with reliable center Kampf. Denis Malgin, who has the best percentage on the team at 30 percent and who scored against the Ducks, will draw in on the right wing.
Keefe is clearly searching for some chemistry in the bottom six.
The Defensive Pairings
|MORGAN RIELLY||VICTOR METE|
|T.J. BRODIE||JUSTIN HOLL|
The defense pairings have changed as well, Victor Mete will draw back into the game and will play on the right side with Morgan Rielly. TJ Brodie will partner with Justin Holl on the second pairing. Mark Giordano will partner with Rasmus Sandin on the team’s third pairing.
After his NHL debut, which wasn’t a bad start, Filip Kral will sit.
In a real surprise, at least for me, Erik Kallgren seems to be called upon to will get the start tonight. That makes me wonder if Samsonov is ill again or if there’s a deployment strategy I’m unaware of. We’ll see.
[In an update that happened within an hour of publication, Samsonov was the first goalie off the ice in practice today. That usually means he’ll be the starter.]
|ERIK KALLGREN||ILYA SAMSONOV|
Related: Four Odd Statistical Facts About the Maple Leafs This Season
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November 2, 2022 at 1:41 pm
Maybe Kallgren is the starter tonight & there’s another reason Samsonov left the ice early much like why Johnathon Heberdeau left the game Saturday during the 1st period.
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