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Samsonov starts, Giordano a projected scratch, Bertuzzi questionable: Maple Leafs Practice Notes

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Photo credit:John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Joseph Zita
1 month ago
Despite a shaky four-game road trip at times, the Toronto Maple Leafs wrapped up on the West Coast with a solid win over the Seattle Kraken on Sunday night, and today, they hit the ice for practice ahead of their home-and-home against the Winnipeg Jets, starting tomorrow night and ending Saturday night.
As the players hit the ice for practice this afternoon, there were some changes to the line rushes compared to their last game. For starters, Tyler Bertuzzi was not on the ice with his teammates, and it was confirmed that he and his wife are expecting. Sheldon Keefe confirmed to the media post-practice that they won’t know if Bertuzzi will be available for tomorrow’s game, and they’ll prepare as if he won’t be in the lineup.
For the line rushes themselves, with Bertuzzi not present, Pontus Holmberg was elevated back into the top six, this time alongside John Tavares and William Nylander. Bobby McMann also looks to slot back in on the fourth line if Bertuzzi cannot go tomorrow night against the Jets.
Besides that, everything else on the forward lines looks the same from the last game, including Matthew Knies remaining on the top line with Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner after a solid game against the Kraken Sunday night.
It’s unknown who will come out of the lineup out of Nick Robertson, Pontus Holmberg and Bobby McMann if Tyler Bertuzzi ends up being available for tomorrow’s game, but as of right now, those three are projected to play.
For the blue line, it seems Mark Giordano will be projected to be scratched a second consecutive game, giving Conor Timmins another shot in the top six on the back end. Honestly, this comes as a surprise to me. Not so much Giordano projected to sit again, but Timmins getting a second look in as many games. I thought they’d look to William Lagesson, who hasn’t played since December 27th against the Ottawa Senators, to get back into game action, especially after how rough Timmins’ last two games have been at times.
With the forward lines and defence pairings out of the way, the next area that needed some confirmation was the net. Who is going to get the start tomorrow night? Does Keefe go to Martin Jones, who has played quite a bit over the past month and a half, or does he go back to Ilya Samsonov, who, despite not being tested all that often against Seattle, came up with a handful of massive saves to keep his team ahead in the game?
Well, the answer is Ilya Samsonov, according to Sheldon Keefe.
Samsonov earned another start. Ever since his little break from the NHL, after clearing waivers, he has played in two games (1-1-0) and has looked like a completely new goalie. He didn’t get the win against the Red Wings in the second half of their previous back-to-back, but he was good enough that Toronto had a chance to win the game, but they didn’t. Fast forward a week later, he was lights out, keeping his team ahead by one goal for a good chunk of the game, making highlight reel saves. If that game wasn’t a confidence boost for the 26-year-old, I don’t know what is.

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