Leafs lineup notes: Simmonds moves up, Kerfoot day-to-day, Dermott checks back in
Photo credit:© Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
By Nick Richard1 year ago
After a successful Western swing where the Leafs wrapped up a stretch of 10 games in just 18 days, the team was given some time to rest and reset with a day off on Sunday, followed by an optional skate on Monday. The team got back to full practice on Tuesday and had some new lineup combinations on display with third line center @Alexander Kerfoot missing practice after skating with the injured Joe Thornton prior to the main group taking the ice.
In Kerfoot’s place, @Pierre Engvall was centering a third line that featured @Ilya Mikheyev and @Jimmy Vesey on the wings. Kerfoot’s status for Thursday’s contest against Vancouver is tentative and the Leafs will have to be more conservative with their usage of the third line if he isn’t able to play.
With Vesey moving out of the top six, @Wayne Simmonds appears to be getting a chance alongside @John Tavares and William Nylander on Toronto’s second line after a road trip in which he really seemed to be finding his game.
The first line of @Zach Hyman, @Auston Matthews, and @Mitch Marner remained intact but there was one other notable change to the forward group at Tuesday’s practice as @Nic Petan was added to the Leafs roster and skated on the left side of a fourth line centered by @Travis Boyd with @Jason Spezza on the right flank. Petan appeared to be on the outside looking in this season as the Leafs accumulated depth forward options but injuries up front and inconsistent play from the fourth line so far have provided him with another opportunity to make his mark in the NHL.
On the blue line, the Leafs have gone back to @Travis Dermott on the third pair with @Zach Bogosian as @Mikko Lehtonen was back skating with @Rasmus Sandin as the extra defencemen. Lehtonen has yet to gain the trust of Keefe as he has struggled to adjust to pace of the NHL game and he will have to continue to improve in practice as he awaits another opportunity to show he belongs in the lineup on a regular basis.
The coaching staff is clearly more comfortable throwing Dermott out there for a regular shift at this point and Keefe went out of his way to point out that the 24 year old has done nothing to deserve being a healthy scratch, but the organization feels an obligation to get a real look at Lehtonen as well, and rightfully so.
Things could look different at practice tomorrow but for now it appears that this could be the lineup the Leafs go with when they resume their schedule at home against the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday night.
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