After holding off the Blue Jackets’ comeback effort in a 5-4 win last night, the Maple Leafs return home to host the 30th-ranked (but rested) Seattle Kraken in the second half of back-to-back tonight at Scotiabank Arena (7:30 p.m. EST, TSN4).

The Maple Leafs are 3-4-1 in the second half of a back-to-back so far this season with five more to go this season, including tonight; their five losses came against the Senators (3-2 loss), Coyotes (2-1 loss), Jets (6-3 loss), the Penguins (7-1 loss), and Blue Jackets (3-2 OT loss), so there are plenty of dropped points in there against non-playoff teams.

Compare it against Tampa’s 5-0-1 record in back-to-back situations this season, and you can look at it as the difference determining home-ice advantage (and possibly the division lead) at the moment in the standings. With the Kraken, Coyotes, and Sabres on the docket for the rest of the week, the Leafs need to take care of business to keep pace with the leaders in the Atlantic Division race, especially knowing they’ve already dropped six points to Vancouver, Buffalo, and Montreal in the past two weeks.

There are a couple of game-time decisions awaiting the Maple Leafs tonight, including the possibility of Ondrej Kase returning from his upper-body injury (game-time decision) and an outside possibility of not-quite-100% Rasmus Sandin returning from illness depending on whether the Leafs‘ six-man defense group from last night is all feeling healthy and ready to play. There is some word that Jason Spezza may get the night off with a busy schedule ahead.

Game Day Quotes

Sheldon Keefe on the impact on the ice from the chemistry between Auston Matthews and Michael Bunting off the ice:

It is not everything, but it is not nothing, either. Having that kind of banter and that kind of chemistry is important.

Not only does it make you excited to play with a guy, but when things are good, they are usually really good. You are feeding off of that energy on and off the ice. It also allows you to have difficult conversations where you can push and challenge each other at the same time. Like any other relationship you’re in, the closer you get, the more comfortable and confident you are in to have [hard] conversations and talk about different things.

The fact that it has developed in such a short period of time in this first season of them being together is great for us. It speaks to Bunts’ personality. He just puts himself out there. He is an engaging guy. We have talked about it a lot, but he and Auston have really hit it off. We are seeing the chemistry on the ice.

Keefe on the effect splitting up his pairing with TJ Brodie has had on Morgan Rielly:

Obviously, those guys have developed great chemistry together. They have been an important pairing for us since Brodie’s arrival last season and throughout this season. But you have to adapt and adjust when you have injuries and such.

We have split those guys up. I think that has been a little tougher on Morgan. He has had different partners, whether Liljegren or Sandin, on his side of late — two young guys and two guys he’s never played with much.

It has been probably more of an adjustment for him, but in terms of how it is affecting his game, I don’t think it’s too much. He has continued to be himself in terms of making plays, skating with the puck, and playing lots.

Certainly, when you don’t have your partner that you have come to know and developed chemistry with or know what to expect from, it is another thing to be thinking about out there. He has handled it as well as you can expect him to.

Keefe on his confidence in Jack Campbell and Campbell’s mindset coming into tonight:

When he came off of his last start, we practiced the next day, and you’re wanting to see how he is going to react — is he going to be down in the dumps? Is he going to be tired? Is he going to be showing signs of a guy who is stressed? It was the opposite.

He looked to me like he was coming in, wanting to do work, showing well, and playing at the top of his crease. I don’t know if he let in a goal in that practice, at least when I was watching. That was a really good sign for me that he is going to continue to fight and compete.

We want him to be aggressive and confident in himself. I feel good about putting him back in the net tonight.

Jared McCann, fresh off of signing his five-year, $25 million contract, on why it’s worked out in Seattle:

Right from the beginning, I was given the opportunity to be a top-line guy here. Every other place I have been to, I have sporadically been able to do that and show that I can be a top player. As soon as that happened, I knew I wanted to be here.

Seattle head coach Dave Hakstol on McCann’s new contract:

Jared has been on a pretty steady trajectory in a positive way over the last couple of years. You are seeing that again offensively this year. You are seeing it in other underlying areas as well. We have been able to use him up the middle. We have used him on the wing. He is continuing to grow his game without the puck as well.

Both of those two things run together. As much as he is a good player for us now and very important, he is going to continue to grow his game.

Toronto Maple Leafs Projected Lines

#58 Michael Bunting – #34 Auston Matthews – #16 Mitch Marner
#89 Nick Robertson – #91 John Tavares – #88 William Nylander
#65 Ilya Mikheyev – #64 David Kampf – #47 Pierre Engvall
#24 Wayne Simmonds – #15 Alex Kerfoot – #25 Ondrej Kase

#44 Morgan Rielly –  #37 Timothy Liljegren
#78 TJ Brodie  – #3 Justin Holl
#23 Travis Dermott – #46 Ilya Lyubushkin

Starter: #36 Jack Campbell
#35 Petr Mrazek

Extra: Kyle Clifford, Jason Spezza
 Rasmus Sandin
: Jake Muzzin

Seattle Kraken Projected Lines

#90 Marcus Johansson – #16 Jared McCann – #7 Jordan Eberle
#Jaden Schwartz – #21 Alex Wennberg – #19 Calle Jarnkrok
#22 Mason Appleton – #37 Yanni Gourde – #43 Colin Blackwell
#67 Morgan Geekie – #15 Riley Sheahan – #72 Joonas Donskoi

#5 Mark Giordano – #28 Carson Soucy
#24 Jamie Oleksiak – 6 Adam Larsson
#29 Vince Dunn – #55 Jeremy Lauzon

Starter: #31 Philipp Grubauer
#60 Chris Driedger

Injured: Brandon Tanev