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Injuries wreak havoc on Leafs, force Sheldon Keefe to shuffle lines


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Ryan Smitheram
April 15, 2024  (3:10 PM)
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Max Domi injured for the Leafs
Photo credit: Maple Leafs on Twitter/X

Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe was forced to shuffle his lines at the Leafs final practice of the season due to injuries to Max Domi and Bobby McMann.

Saturday was an injury riddled game for the Leafs as they lost Timothy Liljegren after a dangerous hit from Detroit Red Wings forward Joe Veleno, Jake McCabe after taking a puck to the face and Bobby McMann to an apparent leg injury after getting tangled along the boards with Alex DeBrincat. Thankfully, Liljegren did return to finish out the game, but McCabe and McMann did not.
It was a welcomed sight to see McCabe taking part in practice on Monday. Keefe noted following the game that he could have returned, but was unable to due to the swelling around his eye. His welcomed presence however, was also met with surprise as Max Domi was absent.

How did Keefe shuffle the lines and defensive pairs amid injuries?

Up front, Keefe elected to reunite Mitch Marner, who took Max Domi's spot, with Auston Matthews and Tyler Bertuzzi on the top line. He also reunited William Nylander, who is goalless in his last nine, with John Tavares and Matthew Knies in the absence of McMann. The third line consisted of Nick Robertson, Pontus Holmberg and Noah Gregor, who draws back in due to the aforementioned injuries, while the fourth line of Connor Dewar, David Kampf and Ryan Reaves remained together.
On the blueline, Morgan Rielly was paired with Ilya Lyubushkin and McCabe remained with Simon Benoit, who has played his way into a guaranteed spot when playoffs begin. The third pair saw Joel Edmundson, who missed Saturday's game with another injury, paired with Liljegren. That means that TJ Brodie appears to be missing at least one of the final two games of the season, along with Mark Giordano and Conor Timmins. Whether that is for rest, to let him reset or to let a nagging injury heal remains to be seen, but regardless, his absence in the top-six came as a bit of a surprise.
Following practice, Keefe also announced that Joseph Woll will start Tuesday in Florida after back-to-back subpar games from Ilya Samsonov. Woll will look to win his second in a row and third in his last four games and could also play Wednesday according to Keefe.
"Woller will go tomorrow and then we will take it from there."

The uncertainty behind Wednesday's starter leads to speculation that Woll may still have an opportunity to be the Leafs' game 1 starter when playoffs begin, and it also causes some concern about the health of Samsonov given his play the past two games.

Keefe provides updates on Edmondson, Jarnkrok, McMann and Domi

Following practice, Keefe provided updates on the injuries to Edmundson, McMann and Domi.
"We'll see where he's at tomorrow just to be sure, but practice today was a positive sign for him," said Keefe of Edmundson returning to the lineup tomorrow.

Calle Jarnkrok joined his teammates at the tail end of practice for the first time since suffering a hand injury in mid-March against the Philadelphia Flyers.
"Still to be determined, but I think he's more in a day-to-day situation. Unfortunately we're running out of schedule here," revealed Keefe, although it doesn't seem likely the Swede will get into a game before the season ends.

Keefe also noted that McMann will miss the final two games of the regular season and Domi is doubtful to skate in both either.
"He's (McMann) not going to play in either of these last two games and then we'll just see how he is. We'll see where he's at as (Game 1) approaches. "He's (Domi) not going to play tomorrow. I wouldn't expect him to play in Tampa either, though we'll see here he's at with it. He's been dealing with something & he felt it was not going to effect him to play & I don't think that was necessarily the case."

With many question marks surrounding the roster just a week before the playoffs begin, Leaf fans are likely very nervous and expecting the worst when the puck drops for game 1 this weekend. For a team that is supposed to be poised to make a run (although we've said that before), entering the playoffs with a number of regulars out of the lineup doesn't bode well for the line chemistry and team structure.
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Injuries wreak havoc on Leafs, force Sheldon Keefe to shuffle lines

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