Leafs shuffle up lines, defensive pairs ahead of do-or-die game vs. Panthers
The Toronto Maple Leafs are staring an extremely long offseason dead in the face.
Down 3-0 in their second-round playoff series against the Florida Panthers, the Leafs are basking in all the clichés right now, and taking it one game at a time in an attempt to mount a historic comeback.
“Just to focus on what we can control here and what is ahead of us. Our job is to win one hockey game and not get focused or bogged down by anything beyond that. We can’t control the big picture. We can only control one game and give ourselves an opportunity to bring the series back to Toronto,” Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe told reporters yesterday.
At today’s practice, Keefe switched up both his forward units and defensive pairs, swapping Alex Kerfoot and Michael Bunting in the team’s second and third lines, respectively.
From TSN’s Mark Masters, here’s Toronto’s full group today:
- Calle Jarnkrok – Auston Matthews – Mitch Marner
- Alex Kerfoot – John Tavares – William Nylander
- Michael Bunting – Ryan O’Reilly – Noel Acciari
- Zach Aston-Reese – David Kampf – Sam Lafferty
- Extra: Wayne Simmonds
Toronto remains without rookie Matthew Knies, who was diagnosed with a concussion earlier in the series after being thrown to the ice by Florida’s Sam Bennett.
- Morgan Rielly – Luke Schenn
- TJ Brodie – Justin Holl
- Jake McCabe – Timothy Liljegren
- Mark Giordano – Erik Gustafsson
Keefe also flipped around his bottom two defensive pairs, partnering TJ Brodie with Justin Holl instead of Jake McCabe, while bumping Mark Giordano down to the fourth unit and the seventh defenceman, with Toronto going with the 11 forward, seven defencemen look in Game 4.
“For me, it hasn’t been good enough. No matter what you want to say about goals against and plus/minus is a bad stat… at the end of the day, that’s who wins the game, whoever scores more goals,” Giordano told reporters over the weekend about his play prior to Game 3. “You have to win games, and it’s more about finding a way to win no matter what. It doesn’t matter who out-chances who.”
- Joseph Woll
- Matt Murray
Keefe announced following practice that Woll will be the starter tomorrow evening.
Ilya Samsonsov was not on the ice today, per multiple reports. Samsonov left Game 3 with an undisclosed injury following a collision with Luke Schenn.
Game 4 between the Leafs and Panthers goes Wednesday night at 7 pm ET.