Marner absent, Benoit a healthy scratch, and the new guys slot in: Leafs Practice Notes

Photo credit:Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Mazzei
1 month ago
When the Leafs begin the post-trade deadline portion of the season tonight, they will do so without one-third of their top line.
Matthew Knies being present at the morning skate is certainly an encouraging sight given the ailment he suffered on Thursday. Brad Treliving told reporters yesterday that he was optimistic the American forward would be good to go for the game in Montreal and that has appeared to be the case.
The same cannot be said for Mitch Marner, who took an awkward fall during the last game and appeared to have tweaked something. Toronto’s next game after tonight is next Thursday so this is probably a precaution to give Marner the week off to recover. He was listed as “day-to-day” with a lower-body injury after the morning skate wrapped up, so it certainly checks out that he is going to miss tonight’s game. It will certainly hurt them from an offensive standpoint tonight but if the time off helps him recover then that’s better than having him unavailable long-term.
That noticeable absence has resulted in Sheldon Keefe making some major changes to the composition of the lineup as seen below.
The biggest change up front is the dismantling of the Bertuzzi-Domi-Nylander line which has proven to be a dynamic offensive option and a defensive liability simultaneously. Bertuzzi and Nylander will slot up with Matthews for this game while Domi joins Tavares and Jarnkrok which should do the trick in the interim. Knowing the way Keefe likes to adjust things on the fly, it would not be shocking to see these forward lines constantly adjusted during tonight’s game.
Dewar and Edmundson are both set to make their Leafs debut with the former slotted on the fourth line while the latter cracks the third pair. This does signal that Benoit is projected to be a healthy scratch for this one, but it’s hard to imagine he will be out of the lineup for long given that Keefe said it “killed him” having to scratch Benoit. The bench boss is going to use these next few weeks to experiment with the lines to find a combination of pairs he can trust going into the playoffs so expect to see guys like Benoit and Liljegren rotate in and out.
Simply put, the lines tonight are scrambled up so we will be in for some new combinations that could be just a one-time thing or a new option for Keefe to use.
It makes sense why the Leafs opted to go with Samsonov for this one. Having Woll back in the fold certainly helps because of how well he was playing before his high-ankle sprain, but it is clear he still needs some more games to fully get back up to speed as evidenced by him surrendering 10 goals in his first three starts back.
So that means Toronto is going to rotate back and forth between their top two options in the crease and that means Samsonov will get the nod.
The Leafs will face their forever rivals in the Canadiens tonight on Hockey Night in Canada with puck drop scheduled for 7 p.m.

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