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Maple Leafs look to keep things rolling in Colorado as they close out road trip

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Photo credit:© Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Joseph Zita
1 month ago
There was concern about how the Toronto Maple Leafs would handle life without Morgan Rielly while he was serving his five-game suspension. Well, they went 5-0-0 in his absence, and when he returned to the lineup on Thursday night in Vegas, the Maple Leafs kept things rolling with a big 7-3 win.
However, their final opponent on their current four-game road trip is the Colorado Avalanche, who they played in Toronto in mid-January, losing 5-3 after blowing a 3-0 first-period lead.
Although things up to tonight’s game have been good for Toronto, with new-look lines leading the way, tonight’s challenge against the Avalanche will be tough. Colorado has had their ups and downs this season as well. Still, they continue to be at the top of the league standings and hold a ridiculous home record of 22-5-0, which will be one reason why Toronto extending their winning streak will be difficult. Not to mention the 2024 Hart Trophy favourite Nathan MacKinnon’s crazy home point streak, which is at 27 games.
With the advantage slightly in Colorado’s favour tonight, Toronto has looked like a different team over this win streak. As mentioned above, the new-look lines and pairings have played a big part in this. The lineup is more balanced, and now we’re starting to see other players contribute in their new roles.
One of the more significant changes has been John Tavares and Max Domi swapping spots, and since then, both players have looked better and have found their name on the scorehseet multiple times during this winning streak. Outside those two swapping places, Sheldon Keefe elevated Bobby McMann to the third line for his production and kept TJ Brodie and Timothy Liljegren together upon Morgan Rielly’s return. Everyone seems to be gelling together nicely.
Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner, both on ridiculous heaters right now, will look to carry that into the final game on their road trip before heading back home to begin a five-game homestand. Matthews, as many know, is now at 52 goals in 55 games, with a five-game goal/point streak (10 goals and three assists), and Marner is on a nine-game point streak (two goals and 17 assists), with a crazy five-game multi-assists streak, tying Borje Salming for the longest such streak in franchise history.
The only area where the Maple Leafs could and should look to get better, which is difficult, given they’ve been poor all season at it, is their penalty kill. Luckily, they haven’t had to rely on their penalty kill to win their games recently. But with a penalty kill generating 71.4% (10/14) over the last six games, it won’t help win games down the stretch and into the playoffs, and with an Avalanche team ranked 9th with a power play generating at 23.1%, it’ll be another tough ask for Toronto to have a solid night in that department.

Pregame details:

Toronto Maple Leafs’ lineup:

Matthew Knies – Auston Matthews – Mitch Marner
Tyler Bertuzzi – Max Domi – William Nylander
Bobby McMann – John Tavares – Nick Robertson
Pontus Holmberg – David Kampf – Ryan Reaves
TJ Brodie – Timothy Liljegren
Morgan Rielly – William Lagesson
Simon Benoit – Jake McCabe

Colorado Avalanche’s lineup:

Jonathan Drouin – Nathan MacKinnon – Mikko Rantanen
Miles Wood – Ross Colton – Logan O’Connor
Artturi Lehkonen – Ryan Johansen – Zach Parise
Kurtis MacDermid – Chris Wagner – Joel Kiviranta
Devon Toews – Cale Makar
Samuel Girard – Josh Manson
Jack Johnson – Bowen Byram

Projected goalies:

Ilya Samsonov (TOR) vs Alexandar Georgiev (COL)

Broadcast:

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

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