News and Notes: Matthews returns, new lines, and a couple of injury updates

Photo credit:© John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Jon Steitzer
1 year ago
Following last night’s game which included the apparently unforgivable act of having a student athlete sit on the bench instead of an AHL goaltender, the Leafs have closed out the necessary steps in bringing in Michael Hutchinson as their emergency call up goaltender.
Whether your issues are that the Leafs shouldn’t have had to wait a game to do this, or if you are offended that the Leafs spend to the salary cap, you can take a deep breath and recognize that it didn’t really matter, and the worst that could have happened was Alex Bishop could have had the night of his life, and we would have been treated to a nice story at the cost of 1/82nd of the results of the regular season.
Mrazek will be out 14 days, which means six games. There are back to back games Friday and Saturday night this week, so it seems likely that Michael Hutchinson will get the start Saturday in Pittsburgh. If he sees anytime in net beyond that it will depend on the health and play of Jack Campbell.
Beyond Mrazek, there are a couple of other injury pieces to look at…
Hopefully we see a few more maintenance days worked in the schedule for a number of Leafs, but Muzzin in one in particular that the Leafs need to manage closely (with the acknowledge that they can do everything right and still not have it go as planned.)
As for Holl, I get the sense that the Leafs are probably pretty comfortable with what they saw from Liljegren last night, and are happy to let Holl take Monday as a recovery day as well before sorting out where all the defensemen land for Friday night’s game.
Oh yeah, that.

Auston’s back!!!

As much as the Leafs should probably be up 3-0 on the season given that their opponents so far have been Montreal and Ottawa, the fact that Toronto managed a 2-1 record in Auston’s absence is probably good enough, and now we can start seeing where the Leafs are truly at this year. While it’s been easy to look at the first line and the powerplay and say they’ve been the biggest disappointments for the Leafs so far this year, both of those situations change radically with the return of Matthews, and Monday has a bit of a Game One feel to it again. It’s safe to say that Marner and Ritchie haven’t done themselves any favours in the first three games, but especially Nick Ritchie hasn’t had a chance to work with the player he was brought in to play with.
As for the lines, let’s all agree that third line doesn’t need a nickname.
Secondly, the first line is exactly as we’d expect, but I personally will make a case that the way Nick Ritchie has played so far hasn’t been bad if he was given a third line assignment. Ritchie with Kampf and Kase seems like it has a lot of potential, and Kerfoot has shown a lot of promise playing with Nylander. As for Bunting, I think he’s the offensively capable grinder that can adequately replace Hyman and that’s probably what is needed there more than Ritchie’s brut force.
The fourth line, well, the fourth line is what we’d expect as well as Mike Amadio is logical choice for the press box, and could be Marlies bound at some point soon.
Finally, the Leafs are going the way of the Coyotes and relaxing their game day dress code. For some this is exciting news, as it gives the players a chance to show their personality, and fans can connect with them in a new way. For others, this should be a completely ignorable thing, that you don’t need to worry about. If you think having all the players show up in suits makes them more of a team, the good news for you is they will all wear the same outfit on the ice, so you don’t need to stress it. Also reflect on the idea of a mandated dress code being something that brings people together as a concept. It’s a lousy one. The Leafs seem to be all in on the philosophy of a relaxed, happy, stress free team will play better. If you want to cheer for a team wound tight, you still have the Islanders you can cheer for.
Tomorrow night marks the start of the new dress code, the return of Auston Matthews, and finally an American opponent in the building. It should be fun night.

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