The Toronto Maple Leafs will attempt to salvage three out of a possible six points from the California road trip, but they will need an inspired effort in a tired situation tonight in Anaheim (10 p.m. ET, TSN4).
The Leafs have won just one game as a tired team against a rested opponent this season, and it came against a nominal NHL team in the Detroit Red Wings back in December — a game in which the Red Wings’ starting goaltender went down injured early and Jonathan Bernier was forced into the game from the press box despite being badly under the weather.
However, the Leafs have no excuse not to be hungry to grab at least one victory from this tour through California against the league’s 27th, 28th, and 30th-placed teams. The Ducks have given up 23 goals in their last six games and their blue line is banged up worse than even the Leafs‘ is at the moment — Josh Manson, Hampus Lindholm, Cam Fowler, and Erik Gudbranson all are out or questionable for tonight.
Josh Manson (upper body) and Erik Gudbranson (upper body) are skating with the Ducks this morning. Don't know if that means either/both are playing but obviously closer to doing so. Cam Fowler (lower body) worked out with skills coach Larry Barron before the a.m. skate.
— Eric Stephens (@icemancometh) March 6, 2020
On that note, the Leafs will get Cody Ceci back from injury tonight, with Timothy Liljegren returned to the Marlies. Ceci was lining up on the bottom pairing with Ramus Sandin prior to sustaining his ankle injury against the Rangers on February 5, so he likely slots back in as Sandin’s regular partner, but Calle Rosen is stepping in for Sandin tonight to give the rookie a night off. It will likely be a manged-minutes situation for Ceci in his first game back after a month on the shelf.
If the Leafs can gut out a win here tonight, it sounds like there may be a lot more help coming possibly as soon as Tuesday in the form of another defenseman soon to be activated off of IR.
Jack Campbell will start in net tonight for his second start in a back-to-back situation for the team. In the first, a 2-1 overtime loss in his Leaf debut on the road, he was the main reason the team got it to extra time after the Leafs parked the bus and were snowed under in the third period against Montreal.
Game Day Quotes
Sheldon Keefe on Cody Ceci returning ahead of schedule:
Initially coming onto this trip, we weren’t thinking about him playing any of these games, but he has responded very well to both the full-team practices we have had and the extra work he has done. The medical staff and Cody himself feel ready to go.
Just to add a presence of a guy who has played in the league quite a bit, especially now at the end of a road trip here in a back-to-back game and we haven’t gotten the results we’ve wanted on this trip — it helps the group.
Keefe on Morgan Rielly’s status:
He has also responded very well. We don’t know yet exactly when he will go, but he will get another full practice in for us on Monday. He’ll move into the day-to-day category from there.
Keefe on the results on the road trip so far and the challenge against Anaheim tonight:
The trend remains the same for all three. They work really hard and they’re not laying down. They’re pushing and making it hard on teams. You look at the teams that San Jose and LA beat previously, and this team here today is coming off of a win in Colorado on the road the other day. They’re playing well and they played us hard at home on their back-to-back. We are expecting another challenge here. The league is very tight despite what the standings may say. We’ve got to be ready to go.
William Nylander on his line’s performance vs. LA:
I think we were able to generate a lot of offensive-zone and generate chances. We didn’t score, but we played well. We were clicking as a line and we had a couple of breakaways, too, which should’ve gone in.
Auston Matthews on the power play’s recent struggles (0 for last 11):
Just kind of keep shooting. Try not to force stuff. When it’s not going as well as you’d like it to, maybe kind of simplify it and shoot more pucks with guys going to the net a little bit.
Toronto Maple Leafs Projected Lines
#11 Zach Hyman – #34 Auston Matthews – #16 Mitch Marner
#62 Denis Malgin – #91 John Tavares – #88 William Nylander
#73 Kyle Clifford – #15 Alex Kerfoot – #24 Kasperi Kapanen
#47 Pierre Engvall – #33 Frederik Gauthier – #19 Jason Spezza
#23 Travis Dermott – #3 Justin Holl
#52 Martin Marincin – #94 Tyson Barrie
#48 Calle Rosen – #83 Cody Ceci
#36 Jack Campbell (starter)
#31 Frederik Andersen
Scratched: Rasmus Sandin
Injured: Ilya Mikheyev, Morgan Rielly, Andreas Johnsson, Jake Muzzin
Anaheim Ducks Projected Lineup
Sonny Milano – Ryan Getzlaf – Danton Heinen
Rickard Rakell – Adam Henrique – Jakob Silfverberg
Max Jones – Sam Steel – Kiefer Sherwood
Nicolas Deslauriers – David Backes – Carter Rowney
Jacob Larsson – Michael Del Zotto
Brendan Guhle – Matt Irwin
Christian Djoos – Jani Hakanpaa
Injured: Cam Fowler (lower body), Erik Gudbranson (upper body), Hampus Lindholm (upper body), Josh Manson (upper body)