Holl out for Liljegren? Leafs facing "game-time decisions" for Game 6

Apr 29 2023, 5:43 pm

Heading into a crucial Game 6 on the road tonight, the Toronto Maple Leafs still maintain the upper hand over the Tampa Bay Lightning in their first-round playoff matchup with a 3-2 series lead.

But anyone who’s watched the Leafs play over the last two decades knows there’s hardly anything safe as a lead when Toronto is involved.

Toronto had a chance to close out the Lightning on home ice on Thursday night but fell 4-2 in a Game 5 loss that set up a rematch on the road for later tonight.

And while Toronto has managed to win more games than they’ve lost this series, it hasn’t always been pretty, with the Leafs holding just a +1 goal differential in the five games at all strengths while being outscored 14-12 at 5v5.

One player who’s had a particularly tough time has been defenceman Justin Holl, who has been outscored 14-2 at all strengths in the series. He’s contributed just one assist this series while averaging 18:29 of ice time per night across the five games to date.

“Those guys have done a really good job for us all season. It has been interesting. We have had some guys that have taken a step backward from the regular season. Some guys have taken a big step forward,” Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said yesterday when asked how Holl and Mark Giordano can improve their play in this series. “The time of the year, the challenge of the opponent, and all of those kinds of things affect everybody differently. Certainly, those guys have been and can be better again.”

Holl took the ice during today’s optional skate, while Timothy Liljegren, who has yet to play in the playoffs — was off the ice, reversing their typical game day routines.

“I’m not going to take any questions on the lineup,” Keefe told reporters today, adding the team had a few game-time decisions to make.

But it’s not hard to read between the tea leaves about what those game-time decisions might be, with the added possibility of forward Michael Bunting returning to the lineup following sitting Games 2-5: three for a suspension and one as a healthy scratch.

No matter who’s in the lineup, the puck drop is set for 7 pm ET for tonight’s game.

Adam LaskarisAdam Laskaris

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