Sheldon Keefe reveals tonight's lineup, starter against the Penguins

Mike Armenti
April 8, 2024  (11:40)

William Nylander gets set for the faceoff
Photo credit: James Carey - USA Today Sports

After a day off on Sunday, the Toronto Maple Leafs returned to practice on Monday, ahead of their game against the Penguins on Monday. Unsurprisingly, Sheldon Keefe didn't do much tinkering for this one.

After a 4-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday, Keefe has kept his lines intact, with Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander remaining on separate lines. Here's a quick breakdown of how things look up front for tonight's game against Pittsburgh.
Nick Robertson and Noah Gregor skated as extras in practice on Monday, and with Calle Jarnkrok also skating before the main group, it's looking more and more like Robertson and Gregor will be scratches to begin the playoffs - though there are still 6 games to get through for the Leafs, so injuries can still occur to open up a spot.
On the blueline, the Leafs are rolling out the same pairs as they did on Saturday, pairing Morgan Rielly with Ilya Lyubushkin on the top pair. Simon Benoit, who recently signed a 3-year extension with the Leafs, was once again paired with Jake McCabe, and the former Flames top pair of Mark Giordano and T.J. Brodie skated as the Leafs' third pair.
The game against the Penguins tonight has some major playoff implications for both teams. For the Leafs, a win tonight puts them just 3 points back of the Florida Panthers for 2nd in the Atlantic Division and home ice in round 1. For the Penguins, a win in regulation puts them ahead of the New York Islanders for 3rd in the Metropolitan Division, bumping the Islanders down to the 2nd Wild Card spot and temporarily removes the Detroit Red Wings from a playoff spot.
Auston Matthews is coming into this one having scored 64 goals on the season. With 6 games remaining on the schedule for the Leafs, including tonight's game, he'll need 6 goals in the next 6 outings to hit 70 goals on the season. Obviously, that will remain one of the top storylines in the league right down to the wire.
The Penguins are red hot coming into this one having won 4 straight games and going 6-2-2 over their last 10 games. Meanwhile, the Leafs are 6-4-0 in their last 10.
As far as tonight's starting goaltender, Sheldon Keefe appears to be rolling with the hot hand once again, as Ilya Samsonov was doing his typical starter's routine on Monday, signifying that he'll start against a hungry Penguins team who will be playing with urgency tonight in Toronto.
For a time, it appeared as though Kyle Dubas' first season in Pittsburgh was going to result in the team missing the playoffs entirely. However, the former Maple Leafs GM must be elated with the gutsy performances of his team of late. Obviously, there was some potential turmoil building after the Jake Guentzel trade and how upset Penguins captain Sidney Crosby was to be losing his most consistent linemate, but for now, all of that has appeared to have fallen to the wayside as the Pens try to focus in and make the playoffs.
There's no question that the Maple Leafs would love to play spoiler to Dubas' plans in Pittsburgh and send the Penguins home with a loss tonight, but in order to do that, they'll need another solid 60-minute effort like the one they put together on Saturday in Montreal.
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Sheldon Keefe reveals tonight's lineup, starter against the Penguins

Do you think the Maple Leafs' third line of Matthew Knies, Pontus Holmberg and William Nylander will stay together to begin the playoffs?

Yes20155.4 %
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