"Some game-time decisions": Leafs keeping Game 4 lineup mysterious

Apr 24 2023, 7:32 pm

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: the Toronto Maple Leafs face a crucial playoff game tonight.

Up 2-1 in the series over the Tampa Bay Lightning heading into Monday night’s Game 4, there’s a general sense that Toronto stole a victory on Saturday night in a rollercoaster overtime win.

Following a dominant 7-3 Game 2 victory on home ice, the Leafs eked out a 4-3 win in an extra frame over the weekend despite being outshot 39-27 on the night.

And while Toronto didn’t exactly look their best despite the result, it’s not clear if the team will be making lineup changes before Game 4.

“We’ve got some game-time decisions,” Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe told reporters today.

Fourteen skaters and two goalies took part in the Leafs’ optional skate today, though the team didn’t do any line rushes over the past two days.

Calle Jarnkrok skated with the Leafs’ top line over the past two games, lining up alongside perennial team staples Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner. But with the absence of Michael Bunting, who is serving the third game of his suspension, Keefe just might be inclined to throw the lines into a bit of a blender.

“We had three lines that were really struggling the other night,” Keefe added. “In the third period, we split up [Auston Matthews] and [Mitch Marner] and thought they might be able to help the other lines. Those are all the different things that we’ve got to look at.”

One of the Leafs’ new-look lines has been their third unit with trade deadline acquisitions Ryan O’Reilly and Noel Acciari joined by rookie forward Matthew Knies. And it appears that Keefe remains a big fan of that line, with O’Reilly producing a pair of goals and three assists so far through three games.

“Obviously, it is well-established what O’Reilly and Acciari bring to us. That is partially why they are paired with Knies — because of the fact that they can take care of him, and if he is going to make some mistakes, they will help cover up. It can allow him to be free and confident out there. Both guys talk a lot,” Keefe added Sunday.

Game 4 is scheduled for 7:30 pm ET/4:30 pm PT at Amalie Arena tonight.

Adam LaskarisAdam Laskaris

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