It will be a Maple Leafs lineup light on star power tonight in Belleville, but we’ll see a potential regular-season checking line combination in action in Zach Aston-Reese – David Kampf – Nicolas Aube-Kubel (7 p.m. EST, Sportsnet).
A couple of updates via Sheldon Keefe today on the injuries to two depth options on the blue line: Carl Dahlstrom will be out for six months due to shoulder surgery, while Jordie Benn will be out for a minimum of three weeks with a groin injury.
Game Day Quotes
Sheldon Keefe on the challenges of playing the right side as a left-handed defenseman and whether there are any offensive advantages for a player like Morgan Rielly if he played the right:
There are advantages and disadvantages to both sides. There are scenarios [where it helps], whether it is walking the line or at times receiving passes that you can one time. There are other times where it is a little more difficult picking the puck up off the boards. If you receive a puck in front of you, it is tougher. You usually have to keep your feet inside the zone to catch a puck on your forehand vs. if you are a rightie on that side, you can be outside the zone and catch it on your forehand.
In Morgan’s case, it is just about getting him comfortable so that if we call on him to do so, he is okay with it and it doesn’t affect his game. That is really where it is at. But I am fully expecting him to be on the left side.
TJ Brodie on Morgan Rielly’s ability to play the right and the difficulty of playing on the right as a left-handed defenseman:
I don’t think it is as big of a deal as it is made out to be. There are positives and negatives to each side depending on where you are on the ice. The biggest thing is just getting comfortable.
I think [Rielly] will be fine. He is fully capable of playing on the right. He has the feet and the skill to do it.
Mitch Marner on the idea of playing defense situationally:
I am open to whatever. Obviously, it’s different playing defense on the power play versus even strength, but you get those opportunities and chances sometimes where you have to play as a defenseman at five-on-five late in a power play or something like that after the guy comes back on.
I am open to all opportunities, whatever [Keefe] is thinking. I am not against anything. As soon as he gave me the heads up about it, I was all in with it. I thought it was kind of cool thinking.
Zach Aston-Reese on playing next to David Kampf and Nicolas Aube-Kubel:
I like playing with Kampfer. He is a really smart two-way guy. He is strong on pucks. The same with Kubes. He has Stanley Cup experience as well. It’s been quite the treat.
Senators head coach DJ Smith on the impact Claude Giroux is making on the younger Senators in the room:
He has been around a long time. He has taken 17,000 faceoffs. He has all the tricks of the trade. He knows things that no coach is going to know outside of maybe Rod Brind’Amour, who has taken that many faceoffs. It is invaluable, the experience that he provides to those young guys — Pinto, Stutzle, Norris. The way he sees the game is only going to help those guys.
When a player-to-player conversation happens, it is taken a lot more seriously — I think — than coaches. They really respect him. He has helped us in a lot of ways.
He is a really competitive guy. He didn’t just come here to come home and play games. He wants to win. He wants to be a part of this team being better. He wants to be a part of pushing these guys.
He is going to push himself and I am going to push him. That is the job of the coach — to get the best out of him while he is leading these guys. At the same time, he is really serious about his craft. He is really serious about helping this team get to the next level.
Toronto Maple Leafs Projected Lineup
Aston-Reese – Kampf – Aube-Kubel
Robertson – Holmberg – Malgin
Steeves – Shaw – Simmonds
McMann – Der-Arguchintsev – Anderson
Kral – Holl
Mete – Villeneuve
Rifai – Hollowell
Ottawa Senators Projected Lineup
Tkachuk – Norris – Batherson
Crookshank – Stützle – Boucher
Kelly – Greig – Watson
Lucchini – Chartier – Hawryluk
Chabot – Zub
Bernard – Roger
Holden – Bernard-Docker