Leafs AM skate notes: Matthew Knies to make NHL playoff debut with Bunting suspension

Photo credit:Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
Nick Barden
1 year ago
The absence of Michael Bunting will hurt the Maple Leafs a lot, but it will also give them a look at Matthew Knies as he makes his Stanley Cup Playoffs debut.
That’s right, the 20-year-old will enter Toronto’s lineup for the first time since playing in the regular season finale against the New York Rangers on April 13th.
Knies will make his playoff debut alongside Ryan O’Reilly and Noel Acciari — two players with an abundance of postseason experience.
With Bunting suspended and O’Reilly moving down to third-line centre, that allows both Alex Kerfoot and Calle Jarnkrok to shift up into the Maple Leafs’ top six.
Tampa Bay got off to a lightning start on Tuesday night, scoring three goals in the opening period with the first coming 1:18 into the game. That’s something that Toronto doesn’t want happening again in Game 2 on Thursday.
In fact, they expect it not to happen, according to Maple Leafs defenceman Morgan Rielly.
Speaking of defence, it looks like Toronto’s three pairings will remain the same for Game 2. Luke Schenn in particular — the player with the most playoff experience on the Maple Leafs’ back end — understands the game-to-game mentality that’s needed.
And if you veer off into the past, or future, it could be detrimental to your performance that’s ahead of you.
Starting in goal for the Maple Leafs on Thursday is none other than Ilya Samsonov. There have been question marks about how long his leash is, but head coach Sheldon Keefe made it clear after Wednesday’s practice that it’s an easy decision.
As it should be.
I don’t believe a goalie like Samsonov, who’s had the season that he’s had up to now, should be taken out after one game.
In terms of Toronto’s opposition, it’s looking more likely that we see Tanner Jeannot make his Lightning playoff debut Thursday evening.
The 25-year-old suffered a leg injury late in the regular season, and ahead of the series, Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said it’s possible Jeannot does play.
Victor Hedman, who was absent from the Lightning’s practice on Wednesday, joined the team for their morning skate ahead of Game 2.
Cooper, on Tuesday, confirmed that both Erik Cernak and Michael Eysimmont will not dress for the second game of the series vs. Toronto, but Hedman could still play and is a game-time decision.
He’ll remain a game-time decision for Thursday said Cooper after the Lightning’s morning skate, per Sports Illustrated’s David Alter.
Puck drop between the Maple Leafs and Lightning is set for 7PM inside Scotiabank Arena. It’ll be as fascinating as ever, especially with the likes of Jeannot for the Lightning and Knies for the Maple Leafs.

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