The Toronto Maple Leafs will rest star forwards Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner, while Jack Campbell will serve as the backup to Erik Kallgren when the team plays in their final regular season game at home against the Boston Bruins on Friday.
“It’s really all about Monday,” Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe, who referenced the date for the start of Game 1 of their playoffs schedule which has yet to be announced.
Matthews recorded his 60th goal of the season during the team’s 3-0 win against the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday. The previous week, the forward missed three games with an undisclosed injury.
When he returned against the Tampa Bay Lightning last week, Matthews said the injury was something he was going to have to continue to work through.
Matthews finished the 2021-22 regular season with franchise record 60 goals and he became the first Maple Leafs player to record over 100 points (106) in a season since Doug Gilmour accomplished the feat during the 1992-93 season.
Marner will finish three points short of the century club, but recorded career highs in goals (35) and points (97).
”Talking with our team here I’d say we have a pretty good awareness how this year has been, it’s obviously been tough on everyone’s body,” Marner said. “We all discussed it and thought it’d be a pretty good idea to rest and try to do the right stuff for before the real thing starts.”
Kallgren will play in his 14th game this season as the Maple Leafs rest Campbell, they’re expected starter Game 1 start.
John Tavares was the only healthy player absent from the Toronto’s first full team practice since Apr. 15 as the veteran took a maintenance day. A decision will be made on him as well as other players on Friday morning before filling out a lineup.
The Leafs are still in the midst of figuring out what their opening night playoff lineup will look like. Michael Bunting skated again before practice with Leafs Sr. Director of Player Development Hayley Wickenheiser. He also joined his teammates before heading off the ice as practice began.
Bunting has missed the last two games after he was injured in the first period of the Leafs’ 3-2 overtime loss to the Florida Panthers last week.
”I don’t have an official word on what his plan might be,” Keefe said of Bunting’s timeline for a return. “We’re happy that he’s remained on the ice and that the sessions have been positive.”
Bunting’s injury is undisclosed, but he left last week’s game against the Panthers shaking out his right leg.