Timothy Liljegren doesn’t return to the game after a Brad Marchand trip (Updated)
Photo credit:Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
By Jon Steitzer1 month ago
The Leafs blueline continues to face challenges on the health front and once again it is Timothy Liljegren at the heart of those concerns. After just playing 4 minutes 49 seconds of hockey tonight, Liljegren was the victim of an uncalled trip that sent him sliding awkwardly into the boards. There was no penalty on the play because why would officials be looking in the direction of Brad Marchand. Or the puck for that matter.
The play left the Leafs with just five defencemen for the next two+ periods. The Leafs PR account announcing at the start of the third period that Liljegren would in fact not be returning.
While this has certainly been inconvenient for the Leafs tonight it also has potential implications for the next game beyond the possibility of Liljegren not being available. If Liljegren is out and Jake McCabe isn’t able to return the Leafs come up short cap wise for a potential recall. The Leafs would have to play at least one game with 17 skaters before they would be eligible to make a recall to replace Liljegren.
If Liljegren and McCabe aren’t available that leaves Toronto with limited options. The first and most likely one is that Toronto plays a player down. It’s likely that Toronto returns Pontus Holmberg to the Marlies and go with six defencemen and 11 forwards rather than a 12F 5D approach that would be setting up a struggling Leafs blueline for an even tougher night.
If Toronto did want to go with a full 18 skater roster immediately, a combination of waiving and non-rostering Ryan Reaves and temporarily demoting Matthew Knies would allow for Toronto to afford a full lineup. This seems far less likely and it given Toronto’s utilization of their 4th line, playing a skater down doesn’t seem like too much of an ask.
It’s still early to be hitting the panic button about the roster for the next game but things didn’t look good for Liljegren who already seems to be a little banged up and McCabe’s return doesn’t seem imminent. Toronto faces Buffalo on Saturday.
This is unfortunate considering how well Liljegren has been playing but might open the door for LTIR space depending on how serious the injury is. Arguably it is still better for the Leafs to go a skater short for one game than miss Liljegren for a long stretch.
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