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Joel Edmundson returns to Washington as the Maple Leafs look for answers on their blueline

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Photo credit:John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Joseph Zita
29 days ago
For the first time since mid-January, the Toronto Maple Leafs have lost two consecutive games after their 4-3 regulation loss to the Philadelphia Flyers last night. It’s been quite the run for the Maple Leafs since their four-game losing streak over two months ago (0-3-1), but after dropping two straight games, they’ll look to get back in the win column tonight.
With a record of 17-7-1 since that rough patch, two weeks after the calendar flipped to 2024, Toronto has maintained a somewhat comfortable position in a playoff spot despite a very competitive Atlantic division this season. Their impressive record since January 18th is fourth best in the NHL, only behind the Carolina Hurricanes (19-6-1), Florida Panthers (18-6-0), and Edmonton Oilers (17-6-3).
Tonight, the Maple Leafs will look to build on that record while snapping a mini losing streak as they close out the second half of a back-to-back against the Washington Capitals for their second meeting this season and first of two in the next nine days.
There will also be a couple of familiar faces on the ice for either side. Former Capital defenseman Joel Edmundson will return to Capital One Arena for the first time since being dealt to Toronto ahead of the trade deadline, and former Maple Leaf defenseman Rasmus Sandin, who was traded at last season’s trade deadline, will take on his former team again, with his first return to Toronto next Thursday night.
Edmundson has been primarily on the third pairing with Timothy Liljegren since debuting with Toronto last Saturday night in Montreal. As many know, Simon Benoit was healthy scratched for Edmundson since his arrival. Based on that, it seems the coaching staff might have more trust in the 30-year-old defender despite Benoit finding instant chemistry with Jake McCabe and arguably being their best pairing on the backend.
Edmundson and Liljegren have played a little over 50 minutes at five-on-five together over the four games he’s been here, and in those games, they have been the definition of average. According to Moneypuck.com, the pairing has an xGF% of 50.0, xGF of 2.80 and an xGA of 2.80. They haven’t been blowing everyone away with their performance, but they haven’t been a complete disaster on the ice together either. In their game last night in Philadelphia, they played 11:21 at five-on-five and generated a score-adjusted expected goals % of 42.6%, which isn’t ideal, but it was the best among the pairings last night.

Pregame details:

Toronto Maple Leafs’ lineup:

Tyler Bertuzzi – Auston Matthews – Pontus Holmberg
Bobby McMann – Max Domi – William Nylander
Matthew Knies – John Tavares – Nick Robertson
Connor Dewar – David Kampf – Noah Gregor
Morgan Rielly – TJ Brodie
Simon Benoit – Jake McCabe
Joel Edmundson – Timothy Liljegren
One lineup note: With the Maple Leafs playing last night and Ilya Lyubushkin being out of the lineup due to an illness, it’s unknown what the blue line will eventually look like tonight. TJ Brodie and Morgan Rielly struggled as a pairing again in yesterday’s defeat, so if Lyubushkin is good to go, does Brodie take a seat, or does someone else come out of the lineup?

Washington Capitals’ lineup:

Alex Ovechkin – Connor McMichael – T.J. Oshie
Ivan Miroshnichenko – Dylan Strome – Tom Wilson
Max Pacioretty – Hendrix Lapierre – Sonny Milano
Beck Malenstyn – Nic Dowd – Aliaksei Protas
Martin Fehervary – John Carlson
Rasmus Sandin – Nick Jensen
Alexander Alexeyev – Trevor van Riemsdyk

Projected goalies:

Joseph Woll (TOR) vs Charlie Lindgren (WSH)

Broadcast:

Sportsnet, 7:30 pm ET/4:30 pm PT
Pregame Read:
It’s time for Bobby McMann and Pontus Holmberg to take another leap
(Stats from hockey-reference.com)
(Projected lineups from dailyfaceoff.com)

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