March 13 2014 02:10PM
About 15 minutes ago, Mark Masters tweeted that Peter Holland missed this morning's skate with the flu, staying at the team hotel instead (gives him more time to do the sprinkler dance). He also tweeted that Cody Franson isn't feeling 100 per cent yet, but is hoping he will be able to play tonight against the Kings.
This knowledge leaves us thinking that both players are questionable for tonight, and could force some more lineup changes for Carlyle's squad.
Franson missed Tuesday's game against the Sharks with an illness, which forced Colton Orr back in the lineup and took the Leafs away from their recent strategy of dressing seven defencemen. But judging by Masters' tweets, it would seem that Franson has a better chance of playing tonight instead of Holland.
If Franson does play, we can probably expect Carlyle to go back to his strategy of dressing seven defencemen. But with Holland probably doubtful, it leaves a hole at the centre position. That will probably be taken by Nikolai Kulemin, who has filled in admirably at centre a few times this year.
The seven-defencemen strategy has worked of late, where the Leafs won three straight games before Sharks ate them up and spit them out. It spreads out the defence minutes, allowing Phaneuf to roam free a little and not be forced to play 28 tough defensive minutes a night. It also takes ice-time away from what has largely been an ineffective fourth line this year, giving less chances to non-factors Orr and McLaren.
Nonetheless, tonight will be a tough game against a Western Conference powerhouse, with out without Holland and Franson in the lineup.
We should know more about their statuses in the coming hours leading up to puck-drop.