Rielly off the top power play unit, Reaves back in, Marner and Lyubushkin absent: Leafs Practice Notes

Photo credit:Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Mazzei
1 month ago
With the Leafs’ power play struggling mightily right now, Sheldon Keefe continues to find answers by once again making some changes to the lineup.
This is the second straight game the Leafs will trot out a different-looking power play unit after they attempted to go with two defencemen on the top unit Saturday night. While they had their chances, the Leafs went 0/4 on the man advantage including one in overtime. It’s been part of a concerning trend where Toronto has gone 1/22 on the power play so far this month with the worst success rate in the league by far.
While it may seem harsh to move Morgan Rielly off the top unit given how instrumental he has been to their success over the years, desperate times call for desperate measures and the Leafs need to try something different, so Timothy Liljegren will become the quarterback. Tyler Bertuzzi is back up and will look to stay there there indefinitely as he is on a good stretch of games right now from an offensive standpoint.
Special teams played a pivotal role in the outcome of the Leafs’ loss to the Hurricanes over the weekend and getting those back on track is going to be essential. How they fare in that department will determine how far they go in the playoffs so if they aren’t in working order then it could spell doom on their Cup aspirations.
No major changes to the Leafs’ forward lines as Keefe is sticking with the same top nine he rolled out on Saturday. The only alteration here is Ryan Reaves going back in while Noah Gregor is a projected healthy scratch.
The defensive pairings, by contrast, see quite a bit of change given that Ilya Lyubushkin was not available at today’s practice. Simon Benoit finally checks back in as he was paired up with Jake McCabe while the Joel Edmundson-Liljegren pairing stays intact. While it is fair to wonder if TJ Brodie might be a healthy scratch on Tuesday against the Flyers, the fact he is paired with Rielly may suggest Lyubushkin could be out for tomorrow which Keefe confirmed when speaking with the media.
Mitch Marner has yet to join a practice since suffering a high-ankle sprain and his absence today confirms that he won’t be playing on Tuesday and Wednesday. Keefe said on Friday that Marner would ramp things up after a few days off this week but it seems that things have hit a snag in his recovery.
Keefe updated today that Marner’s ankle “hasn’t been responding the way that they had hoped” so they are taking a breather on things. This casts doubt on his chances of getting back in the fold this coming weekend and the distinction of being “day-to-day from being day-to-day” does not provide much clarity on how much longer Marner will be on the sidelines. On a positive note, Brad Treliving was asked about the star winger at the GM meetings and said he felt the injury was minor but did not elaborate further other than expressing hope Marner will be back soon.
Based on the goalie lineup being listed in one of the earlier tweets, all signs seem to be pointing to Ilya Samsonov getting the nod tomorrow night while Joseph Woll will get the start on Wednesday against the Capitals. Woll certainly needs to get more reps in after coming off a high-ankle sprain and has yet to get a start since March 7th.
The Leafs will look to rebound from their loss to Carolina when they return to Philadelphia to face the Flyers. You can catch the action on TSN4 with puckdrop scheduled for 7 p.m. EST.

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