News from the Rink: Nick Ritchie returns to Leafs practice, Jack Campbell to start vs. Canucks
Photo credit:Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports
By Nick Barden1 year ago
The Leafs are back on the ice today after a day of rest following a 5-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers.
Today, they’re in Vancouver.
It’s been an unfortunate week for the NHL, as COVID-19 cases increased throughout the league. Many teams are getting hit hard, especially the Calgary Flames, who the Leafs were supposed to face tonight.
COVID has also hit the Canucks — the team Toronto is supposed to play on Saturday.
As of right now, four players are out for Vancouver, as well as one of their assistant coaches. The team is in San Jose for their scheduled game tonight against the Sharks.
I’m not going to lie — this serves up an interesting question. Will the Leafs play the Canucks on Saturday night?
You would think so at this point if Vancouver is travelling to San Jose. However, the Omicron variant can spread quickly. The NHL did put new protocols in place to make it safer, but there’s still the chance it can spread.
And for the Leafs, they’ve been a team that hasn’t had one case in-season. Like every team, you’d like to keep it that way. Hopefully, they and the rest of the NHL can.
Leafs lines in practice in Vancouver
Here’s how the Leafs’ lines shaped up in practice at UBC today.
@Nick Ritchie has returned after missing the last game in Edmonton with a non-COVID-related illness. @Jason Spezza is still the odd man out of the lineup due to his suspension.
Yes, he’s still waiting to hear back from Gary Bettman on his appeal.
One player that’s missing is @Brett Seney. After Tuesday’s game vs. the Oilers, Sheldon Keefe said Seney might have suffered a fractured finger in the game.
Everything else seems status quo. @Travis Dermott paired alongside @Justin Holl, while @Timothy Liljegren is up with @Jake Muzzin. Ritchie is back on the third line with @David Kampf and @Ilya Mikheyev. The two goalies are @Jack Campbell and @Petr Mrazek.
Keefe says Campbell will get the start against Vancouver, and Mrázek will likely get the second in Seattle.
The Leafs power play
One of the biggest positives this season is what Spencer Carbery has done with the Leafs’ power play. Here’s how the two units shaped up at practice today.
One quick note regarding the units is that Ritchie isn’t in his usual spot on the second power-play unit.
In their last six games, Toronto’s power play is scoring at 52.4%. Over the entire season so far, the Leafs are only behind the Oilers for the best PP in the league. Edmonton’s power play has a 31% success rate, and Toronto is right behind at 30.5%.
The Leafs have 11 power-play goals in their last six games.
What’s stunning to me is that at this point of the season last year, Toronto had a power-play running at 29.9%. It didn’t feel like that last year, but it looks like it’s taken another step this season.
But it will be the Vancouver Canucks who’ll get the chance to stop the Leafs’ surging power play on Saturday night. Puck drop is set for 7 PM ET.
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