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Marner skates for the first time, Rielly absent, and Murray participates: Leafs Practice Notes

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Photo credit:© John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Mazzei
22 days ago
Mitch Marner took another step in his recovery as he was seen on the ice ahead of the morning skate.
He has been skating on his own for the last little bit but this is the first time since his injury that he has been seen in public on the ice. While it is clear from the footage that he is not quite ready to jump back into the lineup as he is still getting some strength back in the ankle, the fact Marner is even there, to begin with, seems to suggest he is on schedule with his recovery timeline.
The latest development is certainly encouraging as the Leafs have severely missed him. They have gone 2-2-1 heading into tonight’s game against the Devils so the sooner he returns the better off the team will be from a performance standpoint. As far as how close he is to returning, Sheldon Keefe said to reporters today that Marner remains day-to-day and is unavailable for tonight but could participate in tomorrow’s practicing depending on how he’s feeling.
Matt Murray was seen in the above clip taking shots against Marner and remained on the ice for the morning skate which marked his first appearance this season. It is yet another remarkable development for the goalie who is only three days removed from making a brief appearance before a prior practice.
The fact that the odds of a return to the lineup during the regular season is beginning to increase is quite the turn of events given how long he has been away from the team all year. The bilateral hip surgery he took back in October meant a six-to-eight-month recovery and we are closing in on the minimum timeline. Of course, that means the Leafs would need to put someone on the roster on LTIR to fit him into the fold but this scenario is no longer looking like an impossible outcome.
Speaking of goalies, Ilya Samsonov was on the ice briefly but departed before the start of the morning skate which suggests he won’t dress tonight. He was forced to depart Saturday’s game after suffering an apparent lower-body injury while sliding across to try and make a save.
Keefe did say that night Samsonov was going to be fine, but clarified on Sunday that the Russian netminder was not feeling 100%. The fact that his status for tonight’s game is now in doubt is not an encouraging sign for sure but perhaps they are taking precautions since this will be their third game in four nights.
As for the lines, Keefe appears to have once again turned on the blender cause they have once again been altered.
A big reason for this is Morgan Rielly and Joel Edmundson were not present for the morning skate and are deemed day-to-day with undisclosed ailments. Rielly will be considered a game-time decision while Edmundson is not expected to play at all this week.  Regardless of whether or not Rielly is available, this will dramatically alter the defence pairings and perhaps we will see Jake McCabe and Timothy Liljegren promoted to the top line.
In terms of upfront, Max Domi returns to the first line alongside Auston Matthews and Tyler Bertuzzi while William Nylander is reunited with John Tavares. It also looks like Keefe is trying to get more offence from the third line with Pontus Holmberg now down the middle and the fourth line loaded up with more defensively-minded forwards. Ryan Reaves is once again projected to be a healthy scratch which makes sense given the Devils like to play a high-tempo game and using a player who struggles to keep with the pace is not a wise move.
It was not made immediately apparent who will get the nod for tonight’s game but all signs point to Joseph Woll getting the start and Martin Jones being the backup. Despite being dinged with a loss on Sunday, he was arguably their best player by stopping 41 of 43 shots to keep his team in the game. The uncertainty surrounding Samsonov means Woll has some runway to try and snatch the starting job down the stretch.
Toronto will play their first game of the season against New Jersey this evening, where you can catch the action on TSN4 with puck drop scheduled for 7:30 p.m. EST.

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