The Toronto Maple Leafs will be playing with a very different lineup tonight
Coming off of a demoralizing 8-4 loss against the Florida Panthers, the Toronto Maple Leafs look to bounce back against a struggling New Jersey Devils team, but they are going to have to do so with some of their top defenseman out of the lineup.
In response to the Rielly injury, the Leafs have called up Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren. Sandin is expected to play tonight.
Rielly joins Muzzin and the rest of the Leafs group of significant roster players who will be absent for an extended period of time, leaving the defensive core looking pretty substandard.
While there have been no official lineups released ahead of tonight’s matchup, TSN’s Kristen Shilton spoke with some of the Leafs players earlier today and gave her prediction:
Despite looking as bad as it does at first glance, it is important to remember how this Maple Leafs team is built: to pump as many goals as possible behind the opposing goaltender, and hope for the best in their own zone.
This strategy does not sound like it is built to sustain the lengthy injuries that the Leafs currently have, especially since they have lost some of their most defensively reliable players, but their strong offense is something they are going to have to ride moving forward, as they could potentially have trouble scoring on the Devils’ hot goaltending.
The Toronto Maple Leafs vs New Jersey Devils
There are not many more teams that the Leafs would rather have a game against right now than the New Jersey Devils.
Despite their recent success, going 6-2-2 in their last ten games with a two game winning streak, the Devils are also missing some significant players in Mackenzie Blackwood, who has carried the goaltending load for New Jersey since their fallout with Cory Schneider, and Kyle Palmieri, who leads their team in points, will also be out with a lower body injury.
This means that Louis Domingue will likely get the start for the Devils this evening, who is currently riding a .898 save percentage this season along with a 3.07 goals against average.
Since taking over for Blackwood, Domingue has had a strong pair of games despite what the stats tell you, allowing just one goal in each of the two contests against strong offensive teams in Washington and Tampa.
Although Domingue has played well, the Toronto Maple Leafs still lead the league in goals for with 165, and Auston Matthews’ recent tear at Scotiabank Arena could pose some concern for the Devils defence, who have allowed the second most goals in the league thus far.
Jack Hughes also made his return to the lineup for the Devils this past Sunday against the Tampa Bay Lightning this past Sunday after suffering an upper body injury, which took him out of the lineup for five games, and recorded an assist in their 3-1 win as he continues his fairly disappointing rookie campaign.
Despite the numbers he has put up, Hughes is a deceptively strong distributor on the power play, and will likely be the quarterback of the second unit for New Jersey this evening.
It is sure to be a tough couple of weeks for the Toronto Maple Leafs with so many key players out of the lineup, but luckily there will be some time to rejuvenate with a nine-day rest period after this Saturday’s matchup against the Blackhawks, and the upcoming All-Star festivities.