Liljegren returns to lineup, Matthews continues chase for 70 as Maple Leafs host Red Wings

Photo credit:Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Joseph Zita
15 days ago
For the final time this regular season, the Toronto Maple Leafs will play a game at Scotiabank Arena before the playoffs begin next week as they host their division rivals, Detroit Red Wings, for the third and final time this season, with the road team fighting for their playoff lives.
Similarly to Toronto’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins earlier this week, they’ll take on a team desperate for points in the standings with the playoffs right around the corner. Although the Maple Leafs have already clinched a playoff spot, there’s no reason to take your foot off the gas pedal because home-ice advantage is still possible for Toronto, pending Florida’s final two games and with a win tonight, Toronto will lock up a division spot, without having to worry of falling to a wild card spot.
Luckily for the home side, they’ll be getting Timothy Liljegren back in the lineup tonight after missing the last eight games with an injury. However, it has come at the cost of losing Joel Edmundson, who will miss tonight after returning to the lineup Thursday night following an absence from the lineup due to a minor injury. It’s unknown what Edmundosn is dealing with this time, but the defenseman did block a shot on the top of his foot against the Devils and was visibly hurting on the play.
Liljegren, who isn’t a lock to be in the playoff lineup come next week, will have tonight and possibly the final two games to impress the coaching staff to be a regular come game one of round one. However, one area where he has an advantage over some other guys is he shoots right, and Sheldon Keefe has already stated many times how much he values having a second right-shot defenseman in the lineup rather than five left-shot defensemen and Ilya Lyubushkin.
We could maybe see Toronto elect to go with an 11/7 lineup with seven guys on the blue line, as they did at times in the playoffs last year, specifically in game six against Tampa Bay when they clinched the series win. But for now, with how the lineup is constructed, they might be starting with a regular 12/6 lineup, and Liljegren will have to earn his spot starting tonight, being paired alongside Morgan Rielly on the team’s top pairing.

Pregame details:

Toronto Maple Leafs’ lineup:

Tyler Bertuzzi – Auston Matthews – Max Domi
Bobby McMann – John Tavares – Mitch Marner
Nick Robertson – Pontus Holmberg – William Nylander
Matthew Knies – David Kampf – Ryan Reaves
Morgan Rielly – Timothy Liljegren
Simon Benoit – Jake McCabe
Mark Giordano – T.J. Brodie
One lineup note: Max Domi is good to go for tonight’s game after missing yesterday’s practice and will slot back on the top line alongside Tyler Bertuzzi and Auston Matthews. Ryan Reaves is also projected to return to the Maple Leafs’ lineup after missing the last two games due to load management. With Domi good to go and Reaves returning, Noah Gregor and Connor Dewar will be the projected scratches.
After scoring two goals on Thursday night, Auston Matthews is now two shy of 70 and would become the first player to hit that number since the 1992-93 season. In 23 career games against the Red Wings, Matthews has 16 goals but has been held without a goal in two meetings this season. Could that change tonight and we could see NHL history?

Detroit Red Wings’ lineup:

Alex DeBrincat – Dylan Larkin – Lucas Raymond
David Perron – J.T. Compher – Patrick Kane
Robby Fabbri – Joe Veleno – Daniel Sprong
Zach Aston-Reese – Austin Czarnik – Christian Fischer
Ben Chiarot – Moritz Seider
Simon Edvinsson – Jeff Petry
Olli Maatta – Shayne Gostisbehere

Projected goalies:

Ilya Samsonov (TOR) vs James Reimer (DET)
Despite getting the start on Thursday night against the New Jersey Devils and allowing six goals on 20 shots, Ilya Samsonov has been confirmed as the Maple Leafs’ starter tonight against the Detroit Red Wings. With just two more games on the schedule after tonight’s contest, it’ll be interesting to see if he rests, allowing Joseph Woll and Martin Jones to get the final two starts next week against Florida and Tampa Bay.


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

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