After being sucker punched by Boston’s Taylor Hall in Tuesday night’s game, Toronto Maple Leafs Defenseman Ilya Lyubushkin will not be playing tonight.
The Russian Bear was the first man on at morning skate, but is going to be left out of the lineup tonight when the Toronto Maple Leafs face the Winnipeg Jets.
The good news?
Justin Holl is in the lineup after he had a scary moment against Boston as well.
Toronto Maple Leafs vs Winnipeg Jets
To fill Lyubushkin’s spot on the right side of the top pair, Sheldon Keefe has moved up TJ Brodie to accompany Morgan Rielly. That’s not the only notable move, however. Mark Giordano will start with Justin Holl, leaving Timothy Liljegren with Carl Dahlstrom on the third pair. Dahlstrom was called up on “emergency basis” to fill in for Lyubushkin.
Dahlstrom more or less fills the “big mean defenseman role” with Lyubushkin out of the picture. He’s played in one game so far this season for the Leafs and has spent most of his time this season with the Marlies.
I don’t love splitting up Liljegren and Giordano, but I understand why it’s happening under these circumstances. Holl played well with Brodie and Giordano brings a similar presence. It helped Liljegren. It will also help Holl.
The biggest news from this lineup perhaps isn’t on the back end. It’s up front.
William Nylander is still on the third line and Ilya Mikheyev is above him. I’ve wanted Mikheyev on the second line, but I wanted him with Nylander and Tavares, I didn’t think he’d be put above Nylander.
Keefe was clearly unhappy with the effort on Nylander’s part and I can see why. The points may be there, but Nylander isn’t doing nearly enough at either end of the ice away from the puck.
The fourth line is where I have a problem.
I don’t care how physical a team is, Kyle Clifford and Wayne Simmonds do not need to be dressing on the same night. Colin Blackwell doesn’t deserve to be a healthy scratch after how he played against Boston. He was by far the best player on the fourth line on Tuesday night.
It is the Jets, So I can see why Keefe is going bigger on the fourth line, but I don’t love scratching Blackwell after such a good game.
As for the goaltending situation: no surprises here as Erik Kallgren will get the start. It broke this morning that Petr Mrazek is done for the regular season. That’s not the news we’ve been wanting to hear as Mrazek had been playing his best hockey of the season recently.
There is some good news however: Jack Campbell has been medically cleared to return and Jake Muzzin is nearing a return.
I don’t love having Hutchinson as the backup, but the only reason he’s with the Leafs right now is because Joseph Woll is hurt. Hutchinson would still be with the Marlies otherwise.
At this stage in the season, every game is more important than the last. If the Leafs win tonight, they’ll move into second place in the Atlantic. These games against mid-tier teams like the Jets are games they need to win.