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Giordano returns to lineup as Maple Leafs begin homestand against Golden Knights

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Photo credit:Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
Joseph Zita
1 month ago
The Toronto Maple Leafs are coming off a successful four-game sweep on their recent road trip, extending their winning streak to seven games, and they return home to begin a lengthy homestand with a rematch against the Vegas Golden Knights, whom Toronto played last Thursday.
It’s been quite the last two-plus weeks for the Maple Leafs. After Morgan Rielly was handed a five-game suspension, the stretch of games that followed the Toronto-Ottawa game two Saturdays ago would be a test to see what this team truly is. As many know, Toronto swept their three-game homestand and then proceeded to sweep their four-game road trip.
They’re back home to begin a five-game homestand against the Golden Knights, Coyotes, Rangers, Bruins, and Sabres, as Toronto (74 points) looks to continue their climb up the standings in hopes of catching Boston (82 points) and Florida (80 points) in the Atlantic division, with the Maple Leafs having 1-3 games in hand.
However, the trend of losing some players continues for Toronto tonight, as they will be without Timothy Liljegren, who is listed as day-to-day, meaning Mark Giordano, who had been away from the team for personal reasons, is back with the team and will make his return to the lineup for the first time since February 13th against the St. Louis Blues.
With the news of Giordano entering the lineup for a banged-up Liljegren, Toronto will be suiting up an all-lefty blue line, which is not ideal, if we are honest. With Liljegren and Timmins, Toronto’s two right-shot defensemen, sidelined, the need for a top 4 right-shot blue liner just increased ahead of the NHL’s 2024 trade deadline next Friday.
When Morgan Rielly was serving his suspension, the team had been going with different-looking pairings, and when the 29-year-old returned last week, they kept the pairings the same. However, with an all-lefty lineup, Sheldon Keefe and his coaching staff have tinkered with the pairings again, leaving some fans questioning the decision.
Based on their practice lines, Toronto will be splitting the Benoit-McCabe pairing up, but Brodie will remain on his strong side, as he is going to be paired up with a familiar face in McCabe. Rielly, who has been paired with Lagesson for the last two games, will be alongside Benoit tonight, leaving Giordano and Lagesson as the final two who will be on the third pair.
Because Liljegren is out of the lineup, the coaching staff was forced to do this, but the pairings aren’t bad. Benoit serves as that Luke Schenn-type that Rielly found success beside in the playoffs last year, Brodie-McCabe has been paired up before in the playoffs, and Giordano-Lagesson has been a pairing already this season.
In the long term, these pairings are far from ideal. But for a game without one of your regular right-shot defensemen, it’s fine. Brad Treliving needs to be making calls around the league for a top 4 right-shot blue liner because that is the Toronto Maple Leafs’ number-one priority ahead of next week’s trade deadline.

Pregame details:

Toronto Maple Leafs’ lineup:

Matthew Knies – Auston Matthews – Mitch Marner
Tyler Bertuzzi – Max Domi – William Nylander
Bobby McMann – John Tavares – Nick Robertson
Pontus Holmberg – David Kampf – Ryan Reaves
TJ Brodie – Jake McCabe
Morgan Rielly – Simon Benoit
Mark Giordano – William Lagesson

Vegas Golden Knights’ lineup:

Brendan Brisson – William Karlsson – Jonathan Marchessault
Ivan Barbashev – Chandler Stephenson – Michael Amadio
Paul Cotter – Nicolas Roy – Keegan Kolesar
Mason Morelli – Byron Froese – Sheldon Rempal
Alec Martinez – Alex Pietrangelo
Brayden McNabb – Shea Theodore
Nicolas Hague – Zach Whitecloud

Projected goalies:

Ilya Samsonov (TOR) vs Adin Hill (VGK)

Broadcast:

TSN4, 7:00 pm ET/4:00 pm PT
(Stats from hockey-reference.com)
(Projected lineups from dailyfaceoff.com)

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