The adversity continues to pile up this Maple Leafs team. With only two regulation wins in their last ten games and Alex Kerfoot now joining Mitch Marner on the IR, they’ll have to dig in even deeper to turn their fortunes around against an equally beat-up Boston Bruins team tonight at Scotiabank Arena (7 p.m. ET, TSN4).
The Leafs made a surprise announcement this morning when they revealed Alex Kerfoot had surgery to repair dental fractures he sustained in the game against L.A last week:
Kerfoot originally sustained the injury on Nov. 5 vs. Los Angeles. After Kerfoot reported ongoing discomfort while the team was in New York to face the Islanders, consultation testing determined that surgery was required to repair the facial dental fractures. (2/2) #LeafsForever
— Leafs PR (@LeafsPR) November 15, 2019
The injury resulted from this hit:
— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) November 6, 2019
Kerfoot has had a decent start to his Leaf career when you consider his new surroundings, full-time position, and the lack of consistent linemates due to injury. His production has been fine thus far — he’s currently at eight points through 20 games and has generated shots at a solid clip, sitting second on the team in ixGF/60 at 0.8 (expected goals based on individual unblocked shot locations). His underlying on-ice numbers in the defensive zone aren’t awful, although they could be better — 13th out of 22 players with at least 50 minutes for TOR this year in xGA/60 — especially considering relatively light usage, at least when Tavares has been in the lineup to shelter him.
For now, nothing changes in terms of line combos from the last game. Spezza will simply draw into Kerfoot’s spot in between Ilya Mikheyev and Trevor Moore.
On the power play, in addition to swapping Tavares and Johnsson’s places on the first unit before the last game, the second unit will look a little different with Kerfoot’s absence and the continued rotation of Petan/Timashov. Spezza will occupy the right side, something he’s done plenty of in his career and when he’s been in the lineup this season, while it looks like Kapanen will move to the left flank and Hyman to the net front.
Speaking of Zach Hyman, it was remarkable how good he looked throughout Toronto’s up and down loss to the Islanders on Wednesday. Of course, being engaged and energetic without the puck is Zach Hyman’s bread and butter, but it was a long time on the shelf for him. As the designated first forechecker on the Tavares line, Hyman brought his reliable game to a line that looked pretty solid overall and will be especially key tonight, as they’ll see a good amount of the Bruins’ big line in Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak.
Game Day Quotes
Auston Matthews on the Bruins’ top line:
From a defensive standpoint, it’s tough when you have all five guys moving, who’ve you got to check or who you’re guarding almost. They do a good job of always being in movement, constant motion. They find each other in certain areas and can obviously put the puck in the net.
John Tavares on the team’s overall results this year:
We obviously want to get some better results and some more consistent results — to have better play consistently. Every stretch of the season is important and when things aren’t going as well as we’d like, the importance is there to try and get it back on track and the momentum going back in our way. One quarter is done and I think we know we haven’t played to our expectation and to where we want to get to.
Honestly, I think we’ve just shot ourselves in the foot at wrong times in the game. Our last game, we controlled a lot of the game 5-on-5, had some really good opportunities, got off to a really good start, and then we made a couple of mistakes that put us in a tough spot being down two.
Mike Babcock on Kefoot’s injury:
We’re pleasantly surprised [with Kerfoot]. Not surprised, but we’re happy. I think it was Carter that got him there. He’d been under some pain — obviously, he didn’t think it was enough pain, but when the pain wouldn’t go away, then we had to deal with it there. I don’t know what he timelines are.
Babcock on the Bruins’ top line:
When you pull up clips and you’re going through [the pre-scout], all you keep seeing is the top line. Why? Because they’re good players and there’s three of them together. As good of players as they are — they’re good without it and they’re good with it — they’re conscious of the team work ethic with Chara and Bergeron, and their ability to check the puck back [is good].
Toronto Maple Leafs Projected Lines
#18 Andreas Johnsson – #34 Auston Matthews – #88 William Nylander
#11 Zach Hyman – #91 John Tavares – #24 Kasperi Kapanen
#65 Ilya Mikheyev – #19 Jason Spezza – #42 Trevor Moore
#61 Nic Petan – #33 Frederik Gauthier – #26 Nick Shore
#44 Morgan Rielly – #83 Cody Ceci
#8 Jake Muzzin – #94 Tyson Barrie
#23 Travis Dermott – #3 Justin Holl
#31 Frederik Andersen (starter)
#50 Kasimir Kaskisuo
Scratched: Martin Marincin, Dmytro Timashov
Injured: Mitch Marner, Alexander Kerfoot
Matthews – Johnsson – Nylander
Kapanen – Petan – Spezza
Boston Bruins Projected Lines
#31 Brad Marchand – #34 Patrice Bergeron – #88 David Pastrnak
#10 Anders Bjork – #13 Charlie Coyle – #18 Brett Ritchie
#82 Trent Frederic – #26 Par Lindholm – #43 Danton Heinen
#20 Joakim Nordstrom – #52 Sean Kuraly – #14 Chris Wagner
#33 Zdeno Chara – #73 Charlie McAvoy
#48 Matt Grzelcyk – #25 Brandon Carlo
#58 Urho Vaakanainen – #75 Connor Clifton
#40 Tuukka Rask (starter)
#41 Jaroslav Halak
Injured: John Moore, Karson Khulman, Jake DeBrusk, David Backes, Brett Ritchie, Torey Krug