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When undermanned this season, the Leafs have proven to be a resilient bunch: Leafs Morning Take

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Nick Alberga
21 days ago
Auston Matthews’ pursuit of 70 goals could take a major hit.
That’s because the soon-to-be three-time Rocket Richard Trophy winner is considered a game-time decision due to illness for Thursday night’s tilt against the Washington Capitals.
Matthews, who’s currently sitting on 59 goals, needs just one to hit 60 for the second time in his career and 11 to become the first player in 31 years to pot 70 in a season.
At any rate, we kicked off the Thursday edition of Leafs Morning Take by talking about the red-hot Tampa Bay Lightning. On Wednesday night, the Bolts edged the Bruins 3-1 on home ice. Suddenly, Tampa, who’s 7-0-1 over its past eight outings, is two points back of Toronto for third in the Atlantic Division. That said, the Leafs do have one game in hand, though. Naturally, we got into a conversation about the first round and if mattered who the Leafs play. At this point, Boston, Florida, Carolina, and the New York Rangers are all possible.

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Presented by DoorDash, the Appetizer focused on some of news and notes from the morning skate. Firstly, we quickly dissected the Matthews information before moving on to Mitch Marner. On Wednesday, Sheldon Keefe disclosed that Marner’s making progress, but isn’t expected to return to the lineup this weekend. Additionally, we talked about Ilya Samsonov and his weird injury that forced him to leave late in the third period of the Edmonton game. For the record, the Russian netminder deemed himself good to go. He’ll back up Joseph Woll against the Capitals.
Speaking of which, courtesy the Wendy’s Daily Faceoff Survivor, we previewed the third and final encounter with Alex Ovechkin and company. Washington’s won six of seven. Spencer Carbery’s squad is currently occupying the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. They’ll be hungry —that’s for sure. Meantime, it will be fascinating to see how the Leafs respond following their lousy 6-3 loss to New Jersey on Tuesday night.
After that, thanks to Tim Hortons, we previewed the game in Buffalo on Saturday night, too. Once again, Auston Matthews could be hunting for 60. Also, we both agreed that Samsonov should start regardless of what happens against the Caps.
Lastly, we got to our Great Clips inbox question of the day. We answered two of them actually. The first one was about Mitch Marner and his future with the organization, the second was about how the team – in the room – views the standings and games down the stretch. No, they don’t try to lose games. That’s never spoken about.
PROGRAMMING NOTE: No show on Friday.
We’ll be back with you on Monday. Join us at 11 AM ET as we recap Leafs/Sabres plus tee up a home date with the rival Florida Panthers.
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