Leafs making at least one subtle lineup change for Game 2 tonight

May 4 2023, 8:09 pm

After suffering a loss in Game 1 of their second-round series against the Florida Panthers, the Toronto Maple Leafs are making at least one change to their lineup tonight.

Sam Lafferty, who has sat out the last two games as a healthy scratch, will slot in for forward Zach Aston-Reese, Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe confirmed with reporters today.

“[Lafferty] has a lot of pace to his game, we think that can help,” said Keefe of the 28-year-old forward, who has not played since Game 5 of the series against the Tampa Bay Lightning. “That’s really it, to be honest. We’re looking at keeping him involved.”

Keefe also mentioned that making Lafferty a healthy scratch two games in a row was not his intention.

“Obviously, we first sat him and Aston-Reese together when we went [with 11 forwards and seven defencemen],” he explained. “We didnā€™t intend to keep him out for the two games, but thatā€™s just the way that it worked out.”

Lafferty, 28, has registered one assist in five games this postseason. Since being acquired by Toronto back in February in a deal with the Chicago Blackhawks, he has put up two goals and four assists in 19 regular season games with the Leafs.

It remains to be seen if the Leafs line up differently, coming off a loss, aside from Lafferty’s insertion into the lineup. The Leafs held optional skates on Wednesday and Thursday, so it’ll remain a mystery until the pre-game skate.

Following Wednesday’s practice, Keefe kept his cards close to his chest, saying he was undecided if he would play Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner together, after reuniting them partway through Game 1.

As for the Panthers, TSN’s Mark Masters reports that head coach Paul Maurice confirmed that there will no changes to his team’s lineup for the second game of the series.

The Leafs host the Panthers tonight for Game 2, with puck drop set for 7 pm ET.

Al SciolaAl Sciola

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