Toronto Maple Leafs: Auston Matthews Out of the Lineup

The Toronto Maple Leafs will get revenge tonight when they face the Edmonton Oilers at Scotiabank Arena.

Is it too early to say that this is a must-win? After shutting down Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl on Wednesday night, the Leafs still managed to lose the game. Auston Matthews was brilliant, as per usual, but he unfortunately will miss tonight’s game.

Home-ice advantage should still have some importance during a season without fans. Although you can’t rally around a “Go Leafs Go” chant when your team’s trailing in the third period, you do get the comfort of sleeping in your own bed and being around your loved ones. As a result, the Leafs should not waste this opportunity at home, especially because they head out west to face the Oilers in Edmonton next week.

Toronto Maple Leafs Face Edmonton At Home Tonight

It’s been an exciting start to the season and although Wednesday provided the most boring game of the season, an Oilers vs. Leafs match-up has all of the attributes to be exciting. In terms of firepower and superstar talent, both of these rosters have four of the top 10 forwards in the country. McDavid, Draisaitl, Matthews and Mitch Marner all have the ability to change the outcome of the game when they’re on the ice.

John Tavares, William Nylander and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins also have that ability, but both the Leafs and the Oilers ride-or-die with their top-duo.

Here are a few notes heading into tonight’s game:

Joe Thornton is Out at Least a Month:

  •  According to TSN’s Kirsten Shilton, “Joe Thornton has a rib fracture (and) will miss at least a month.” This is a huge blow for the organization because although we expected him to miss some action, a month is a huge portion in a shortened 56-game season. Hopefully a player in the bottom-six can step up and fill his absense for that span.

James Neal Could Return:

  • Dave Tippett spoke to the media yesterday and had this to say about the potential return of James Neal:
    • “He’s a possibility for tomorrow. He’s put some good work in. We wanted to get him through a full team practice. He’s been skating hard but this is our first full-team practice in about 10 days. We wanted to see him get through a practice. We’ll see where he is in the morning and whether he can be an option for us.” (via: EdmontonOilers.com)

Leafs Line-Up Thrown into a Blender:

  • Auston Matthews will be out of the line-up tonight against the Oilers. Here’s a sneak-peak as to what the line-up will look like, according to Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston who reported these lines at practice yesterday:
    • First Line: William Nylander-John Tavares-Zach Hyman
    • Second Line: Jimmy Vesey-Adam Brooks-Mitch Marner
    • Third Line: Ilya Mikheyev-Alex Kerfoot-Wayne Simmonds
    • Fourth Line:  Alexander Barabanov-Pierre Engvall-Jason Spezza

Mikko Lehtonen Skating in the Top-Six 

  • Lehtonen has only played a few minutes in each of his first two NHL games, but he was skating on the third-pair alongside Travis Dermott during practice yesterday. It’s unsure whether or not Lehtonen will get the start over Zach Bogosian but the Leafs are going with 12 forwards and six defensemen, so this could indicate a bigger role for Lehtonen tonight.

Anytime McDavid is in town it’s a must-watch game, but Leafs fans are hoping that Toronto can shut him down once again. After losing 3-1 on Wednesday, expect a bounce-back performance and a few more goals tonight.