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Timothy Liljegren returns to the Maple Leafs at a time when they need him the most

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Photo credit:Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Joseph Zita
2 months ago
After nearly 50 days since suffering a high-ankle sprain in Boston from an awkward collision with Brad Marchand that sent him into the boards, Timothy Liljegren will make his return to the Toronto Maple Leafs’ lineup tonight, as the Maple Leafs get set to play the Pittsburgh Penguins for the second time this season and the first time in Toronto, making it Kyle Dubas’ first official return to the city after his departure in the off-season.
The 24-year-old Liljegren was a mainstay in the Maple Leafs’ top-six this season before suffering his lower-body injury. Since then, the team has had other defensemen go down with an injury or illness, forcing their depth signings from this past off-season to play more minutes than anybody had expected two months into the season.
Although William Lagesson and Simon Benoit have done a good enough job to keep the Toronto Maple Leafs in a playoff spot with a good record of 15-6-6, having Timothy Liljegren back in the lineup on the right-side while John Klingberg is out for the season, Mark Giordano still out with a broken finger, and now TJ Brodie being a game-time decision is massive for the team’s back end.
In just ten games this season, the Kristianstad native has registered just one assist while averaging a career-high in ice time with 17:56, surpassing Klingberg on the depth chart before their respective injuries. Liljegren brings more than the ability to appear on the scoresheet, his skating and ability to move the puck up the ice will hopefully benefit the Maple Leafs not just tonight but moving forward against other opponents on their schedule. The Maple Leafs tend to struggle to break the puck out of their zone, especially against a heavy forechecking team and Liljegren as one of the team’s best backend puckmovers takes a lot of pressure off of Morgan Rielly.

Pregame details:

Maple Leafs’ projected lineup:

Matthew Knies – Auston Matthews – William Nylander
Tyler Bertuzzi – John Tavares – Mitch Marner
Nick Robertson – Max Domi – Calle Jarnkrok
Bobby McMann – David Kampf – Noah Gregor
Morgan Rielly – Timothy Liljegren
William Lagesson – Jake McCabe
Simon Benoit – Conor Timmins
Notes ahead of tonight’s game: According to David Alter of The Hockey News, Sheldon Keefe confirmed earlier this morning that Timothy Liljegren would return to the lineup. Meanwhile, TJ Brodie will be a game-time decision (illness), which might force the defence pairings to look slightly different from their skate this morning and once the game gets underway.
Matthew Knies is also set to return to the lineup after missing the last two games (illness).

Penguins’ projected lineup:

Jake Guentzel – Sidney Crosby – Rickard Rakell
Reilly Smith – Evgeni Malkin – Valtteri Puustinen
Radim Zohorna – Lars Eller – Drew O’Connor
Jansen Harkins – Jonathan Gruden – Jeff Carter
Ryan Graves – Kris Letang
Marcus Pettersson – Erik Karlsson
Pierre-Oliver Joseph – John Ludvig
One note regarding the Pittsburgh Penguins’ lineup tonight: Head coach Mike Sullivan confirmed that Rickard Rakell is not ready to return tonight, so there will be a change in the projected lines against Toronto.
According to Andrew Destin, former Toronto Marlie Marc Johnstone had been rotating in and out of line rushes yesterday for the Penguins. Could the ex-Marlie get into the lineup tonight with Rakell not being ready to return?

Projected goalies:

Martin Jones (TOR) vs Tristan Jarry (PIT)

Broadcast:

Sportsnet, 7:00 pm ET/4:00 pm PT
(Stats from Hockey-Reference.com)
(Projected lineups from DailyFaceoff.com)
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