Toronto Maple Leafs Ready for Must Win Game in Florida
The Toronto Maple Leafs and Florida Panthers are set-up for Game 4 of the series Wednesday night, with the Canadian team still looking for their first victory of the series as the Panthers are up 3-0.
During Tuesday mornings skate, Toronto Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe had some dramatic changes to the line-up.
The most notable was that Joseph Woll will be getting his first career playoff start due an injury that knocked Ilya Samsonov out of the first game.
Keefe confirmed that Samsonov would not play on Wednesday and was dealing with an upper body injury.
Toronto Maple Leafs juggle lines
Through his development, Woll has proven that he deserves a chance at a full-time NHL role and he will now be getting the best opportunity to display his skills.
The 24-year old bounced back from an early season injury to post a 16-4-1 record with a 2.37 GAA and .927 Save Percentage in 21 starts for the Toronto Marlies.
Due to some injuries throughout the season, Woll was able to get seven starts with the big club and in his final six starts, Woll was a perfect 6-0, while posting a .939 Save Percentage and a 1.83 GAA.
During the morning skate on Tuesday, the Maple Leafs had four full lines, however it appears as though Keefe will go with the 11/7 line-up once again. Mark Giordano and Erik Gustafsson were skating together in the fourth defensive pairing, while also both taking reps on the second powerplay unit.
Jonas Siegel reported that Giordano would serve as the seventh defenseman for the game, which appears to mean Gustafsson will be back to the press box. The trade deadline acquisition has played in just one game in the series and two games through the playoffs. Gustafsson suited up for Game 3 which he scored a goal and led the team in shots.
Keefe also made changes up front as Calle Järnkrok was back with Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner, Alex Kerfoot was put back with John Tavares and William Nylander, while Michael Bunting was skating alongside Ryan O’Reilly and Noel Acciari.
It is unclear which forward would be out of the line-up, but the assumption is that Zach Aston-Reese would sit, while David Kämpf and Sam Lafferty would be the bottom two skaters.
The Toronto Maple Leafs, specifically the “Core Four” have been criticized by fans and media for coming up short when the games matter most, specifically, Marner has again taken the brunt of the negative attention.
The Toronto native hasn’t scored since the second game of the playoffs during the Tampa Bay series and has just two assists in his last five games.
Along with Marner, the three other main pieces of the team (Nylander, Tavares and Matthews) have all yet to score in the series. An explosion needs to happen to turn the series, the club needs the right mentality going forward and like Billy Beane stated in Moneyball “I hate losing, more than I like winning” needs to be the focus.
For the Toronto Maple Leafs, the comeback starts tonight.