The Toronto Maple Leafs have been without Michael Bunting – out due to a leg injury – but he will return tonight.
The Toronto Maple Leafs didn’t miss a beat without Bunting in game one against the Tampa Bay Lightning in a 5-0 win, but Alex Kerfoot simply isn’t Michael Bunting.
Although it is great news that he is back, the Leafs still shouldn’t rush Bunting because they are a deep team who has shown they can dominate without him. They clearly know this, so hopefully that means he is fully healthy and they aren’t risking a long term injury by bringing him back too soon.
This series against Tampa is going to be rough for however many games it ends up going. Putting that together that with Bunting’s style of play could be a recipe for disaster if he’s not 100%.
Toronto Maple Leafs and Michael Bunting
Bunting has been on the ice early several times since his injury against the Florida Panthers. He clearly wants back on the ice as soon as possible.
Bunting is clearly the best option for the open spot on the top line, but Kerfoot has been good enough to this point that there’s no need to rush him back.
There were rumours out there that Bunting had a torn ACL and would miss the entire playoffs, so his return is absolutely fantastic news. The Toronto Maple Leafs were dominant without him in game one, but he has been one of their best players this season, and will provide a massive boost in game two.
It’s not just Bunting’s skill that will help the Leafs – in a series that promises to have a ton of penalties called, Bunting is one of the NHL’s best at drawing penalties. His ability to get the Leafs on the power-play could be the difference in what will no doubt be a close series.
I thought that ideally, Bunting would sit for game two and is be activated for game three with the Leafs up 2-0 in the series. Bunting’s presence on the ice in game three could be what the Leafs would need to keep the Tampa fans quiet. He has a certain… personality to him.
We just hope that by returning tonight, that the Leafs aren’t rushing him and that he’ll be back for good.