Matt Murray’s uncertainty poses question of who’ll back up for Maple Leafs on Saturday night

Photo credit:John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Nick Barden
1 year ago
There are four games remaining in the Maple Leafs’ regular season and once again, they are keeping players out to preserve their health as they approach the playoffs.
As Toronto stepped onto the ice at Scotiabank Arena on Saturday morning, there were a number of players missing. Both Matt Murray and Calle Jarnkrok were absent, meaning each were likely not to play on Saturday night.
After the short practice, Maple Leafs head coach confirmed that Jarnkrok is day-to-day with a “fairly minor” injury and will not play vs. Montreal.
Murray’s situation, on the other hand, might be a little bit more concerning, for the short-term at least. Keefe said on Saturday that the 28-year-old is progressing, which is good to hear. However, what he followed up with after that was quite interesting.
“The thought was that he’d be available tonight to backup here tonight possibly, so we’ll see.” Keefe said to reporters Saturday morning. “That may not be the case here now. But (we’re) working with the medical team to just figure out exactly where that’s at.”
Keefe revealed that Murray hasn’t been on the ice and doesn’t know what the plan will be if the 28-year-old cannot backup on Saturday.
Wayne Simmonds draws into the Maple Leafs’ lineup for what could be his final regular season game in the NHL. With the 34-year-old up, Joseph Woll had to be sent down, so Toronto might need to sign a goalie to an ATO before their game vs. Montreal.
Similar to what they did back in October of 2021 when they signed Alex Bishop — a goalie out of the University of Toronto at the time — to an ATO.
That is, only if Murray cannot backup Ilya Samsonov on Saturday night.
There were to different goalies at the Maple Leafs’ morning skate. Andrew D’Agostini and Brendan Bonello, who’s pictured in the tweet above.
Both goaltenders have practiced with the Maple Leafs this season, and each of them were even a part of Toronto’s outdoor practice at Nathan Phillips Square in early February.
Finally, with Jarnkrok out vs. the Canadiens, Keefe has elected to switch up each of Toronto’s power play units.
William Nylander moves into Jarnkrok’s spot on the second unit, essentially being the primary puck mover for them specifically. Moving up to the first unit is Ryan O’Reilly, who’ll likely provide a different look to the Maple Leafs’ power play.
Also up with the top unit is Erik Gustafsson. He was the quarterback of the Washington Capitals’ top power play earlier this season. It’ll be interesting to see how he fares with Toronto’s best players.
Morgan Rielly stayed on the ice for extra time, according to Sports Illustrated’s David Alter, meaning he’ll also miss Saturday night’s game. That’s the main reason why Gustafsson gets top power play duties.
This is the final matchup between the Maple Leafs and Canadiens, and it can only be found on one place, Sportsnet. Puck drop is scheduled for just after 7 p.m. ET.
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