Leafs reveal lineup for tonight's game against Colorado
Photo credit: NHL

Leafs reveal projected lines against Colorado and one of the names scratched may irritate fans

Published January 13, 2024 at 12:22
BY MIKE ARMENTI

The Toronto Maple Leafs dropped a tough 4-3 OT decision to the New York Islanders on Thursday and just 48 hours later, they face the daunting task of trying to stave off one of the hottest teams in the NHL tonight in the Colorado Avalanche.

The Avalanche are rolling into Toronto tonight having posted an 8-1-1 record over their last 10 games, with the Leafs having gone 5-3-2 in their last 10. If the Leafs want to have any chance against the Avs tonight, they'll need their special teams to perform much better than they did in New York. They'll also need Martin Jones to be at the top of his game to avoid dropping their second consecutive game.

Sheldon Keefe wasn't thrilled with the team's performance on Long Island, but rather than making some changes to the lineup, Keefe appears to be going back to the same forward groups and D pairings. Here are the lines from today's morning skate.

Knies-Matthews-Marner
Bertuzzi-Tavares-Nylander
Holmberg-Domi-Jarnkrok
McMann-Kampf-Gregor


Obviously, there's one notable name missing as Nicholas Robertson prepares to occupy his seat in the press box once again. After drawing in for the Leafs in a 7-1 win over San Jose earlier this week and scoring a goal, Robertson found himself right back in the press box against the Islanders and if he ends up there again today, it will mark the 4th time he's been scratched in the last 5 games.

Keefe's decision-making regarding Robertson has been somewhat puzzling. The Leafs finally have the kid healthy and they're opting not to play him at all. If Keefe didn't like what he was getting from the 22-year-old, he could have just as easily moved him around in the lineup to try to get him going, much like they've done with some of the other players on the roster. At this point, the only thing that makes sense here is that the Leafs are either trying to protect him and keep him healthy for a trade or that Sheldon Keefe simply doesn't like the player.

To his credit, Pontus Holmberg has played well since his recall and deserves to keep playing, so you really can't pull him out at this point. Keefe really seems to like Bobby McMann's size, speed and relentlessness on the forecheck. We know from earlier in the season that Keefe really appreciates Noah Gregor's game and believes that, under different circumstances, he could be playing higher in the lineup. Calle Jarnkrok is sort of a Swiss Army knife and can play in all situations. Max Domi and David Kampf have the ability to play center, and you're not removing anyone from the top six, so that leaves Robertson on the outside looking in.

The writing appears to be on the wall here, so don't be surprised if you see the Leafs complete a trade here in the coming weeks and Nick Robertson's name is on the list of pieces going the other way in the deal. That seems like a foregone conclusion at this point.

POLL
January 13   |   668 answers
Leafs reveal projected lines against Colorado and one of the names scratched may irritate fans

Will Nick Robertson remain a Leaf after the trade deadline has come and gone?

Not a chance39158.5 %
I'd like him to11917.8 %
Yes, he's going to continue to get better7611.4 %
Don't care, just win8212.3 %
LIST OF POLL
Latest 10 stories