Keefe provides injury updates, Murray practices for the first time, Samsonov to start: Leafs Practice Notes

Photo credit:© John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Mazzei
11 days ago
After today’s practice which was mostly uneventful, Sheldon Keefe provided an update on the status of the four injured Leafs heading into the stretch run.
The first was on Mitch Marner and it sounds like he is set to miss the next two games at a minimum despite participating in his first full practice since suffering a high-ankle sprain earlier this month. This means the earliest he can return is next Wednesday against the Lightning depending on how the next practice on Tuesday goes, though it is more likely he will be back next Saturday against the Canadiens.
Weird quotes aside, the Leafs will be happy to have him back in the lineup once he is cleared to return because he plays a major role in their success. They may have held their heads above water in his absence but they also saw some regressions in key areas while he is recovering.
Marner practicing today is another major step in his recovery after he was skating in front of the media a few days ago for the first time since that aforementioned ailment. Their playoff spot may not be fully secured just yet but the Leafs will take their time and not rush him back until he is fully cleared.
Morgan Rielly is progressing well but will not dress in tomorrow night’s game against the Sabres. Keefe did not specify when exactly the defenceman will return but it sure sounds like it could be at some point in this coming week.
Rielly has been absent from the lineup for the past few games with an upper-body injury but has remained listed as “day-to-day” throughout this stretch. It was not made apparent what play he suffered this ailment on, but like Marner, the Leafs are taking advantage of the last few weeks before the playoffs to give their key players some rest from whatever is bugging them.
He has been the team’s unquestioned top blueliner and getting him back in the lineup will be a tremendous boost to the group. The fact this injury is nothing major is a godsend because his absence would leave a gaping hole if he was out long-term.
As for Timothy Liljegren and Joel Edmundson, they both will need more time to recover but it does not mean they won’t return before the start of the playoffs. This seems to suggest that the two blueliners will probably be out of commission until their season-ending trip down in Florida at the latest.
The good news is that both players were given timelines that don’t go past the conclusion of the regular season so that will give them both enough time to recover from whatever it is that is bugging them. Having said that, it remains a mystery what exactly is bugging them and when they will be cleared to play again.
Either way, they will have plenty of opportunities to get back into a groove before the postseason commences so it could be much worse.
Finally, Ilya Samsonov is set to get the nod for tomorrow’s game down in Buffalo and he will get a chance to atone for his lacklustre showing in a 9-3 loss in that same building back in December.
It makes sense why the Leafs are going with Samsonov here because Joseph Woll has started the last three games and the goal was to ensure both goalies get an equal number of starts down the stretch. Woll was not an active participant in practice to grant him a chance at recovery and he only took part in a goalie session before the main group joined.
This resulted in Matt Murray participating in his first full Leafs’ practice of the season and took a major step in potentially making his triumphant return to the lineup. It does not signal his reinstatement is imminent because he still has to meet with his surgeon in about a week to determine if he can play this season, but the fact he has been skating more frequently of late is a good sign that perhaps he can play before the start of the playoffs. It is certainly worth keeping an eye on at the very least.
The Leafs take the short drive down to Buffalo when they take on the Sabres on Hockey Night in Canada, with puck drop scheduled for 7 p.m. EST.

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