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The Maple Leafs will need to dig deep in the second half of a back-to-back to close out their thus-far-disappointing five-game road trip on a high note. With multiple line changes anticipated, Toronto will take on a vulnerable but rested 1-6-1 Anaheim Ducks team that has been outscored 36-16 through eight games (8 p.m. EST, TSN4).

A significant lineup shakeup appears to be in store that will include Sheldon Keefe asking William Nylander to shift to center ice and drive the third line in between Nick Robertson and Denis Malgin.


Game Day Quotes

Mark Giordano on the team’s frustration level amid the losing slide:

The best thing for us is to be able to play today, to be honest, and get right back at it. We have to get back to really simplifying and worrying about competing, work ethic, all of those little things — the battles that get you through — and not worry so much about the Xs and Os right now. We have to get feeling good about ourselves. We can do that through hard work and getting rewarded for it.

Giordano on the reason for the offense drying up:

It just hasn’t felt that we have been in sync much this year, but again, sometimes you just have to oversimplify and just start shooting pucks from all angles, get to the net, and hopefully, we get a few ugly ones that way and it gets us going at five on five.

Giordano on whether the message to “simplify” is coming from the coaching staff:

The coaching staff is putting good game plans in place for us. Obviously, the execution hasn’t been where we want, but I think sometimes as players, you can start overthinking things individually and collectively. We just have to really, really simplify and worry about outworking and out-competing the other team.

Sheldon Keefe on the team’s need to simplify its game:

We just have to stop overthinking this thing. Get out, move our feet, move the puck quickly, get to the net, and then protect ours. It is as simple as that.

I think it is a little easier on a back-to-back at the end of the road trip to just convince them to clear their mind, go out, and play. That is going to be the message to the group.

I expect us to follow up with a good game.

Keefe on the similarities to last year’s slow start:

There were probably some better performances inside some of those games last year, although the bottom sort of fell out when we hit the road last year. We went out to Pittsburgh and Carolina. We didn’t have a great game in Chicago at the time.

It is interesting how fresh these games are in my mind because there was something to it there. You are just kind of waiting for it to come together. It comes together, and all of a sudden, for the remainder of the season, we were as good as any team in the league.

There is the confidence once we find our rhythm, we believe in our group. But we have to get there. It doesn’t make it any easier. We haven’t looked as much like ourselves as we did during that period of time. That is what we need to start getting through today.

Keefe on whether the team is having a hard time getting up for early regular-season games knowing all that matters is the playoffs:

I certainly don’t think that is the case. I would hope that is not the case. We certainly don’t speak that way. In fact, it is the opposite. We have been talking about the importance of every point and every game throughout the offseason. We went through some of the points we left on the table.

That hasn’t been the messaging. Human nature is what it is. It is an 82-game grind. Again, let’s not overthink anything here. Let’s focus on tonight’s game in Anaheim and do what we need to do.


Toronto Maple Leafs Projected Lines

Forwards
#58 Michael Bunting – #34 Auston Matthews – #16 Mitch Marner
#15 Alex Kerfoot – #91 John Tavares – #19 Calle Järnkrok
#89 Nick Robertson – #88 William Nylander  – #62 Denis Malgin
#12 Zach Aston-Reese – #64 David Kämpf – #47 Pierre Engvall

Defensemen
#44 Morgan Rielly – #38 Rasmus Sandin
#78 TJ Brodie – #3 Justin Holl
#55 Mark Giordano – #82 Filip Král

Goaltenders
Starter: #50 Erik Källgren
#35 Ilya Samsonov

Injured: Kyle Clifford, Jake Muzzin, Matt Murray, Timothy Liljegren, Jordie Benn, 
Extras: Nicolas Aube-Kubel, Victor Mete, Wayne Simmonds


Anaheim Ducks Projected Lines

Forwards
#44 Maxime Comtois– #11 Trevor Zegras – #19 Troy Terry
#37 Mason McTavish – #16 Ryan Strome – #77 Frank Vatrano
#14 Adam Henrique – #38 Derek Grant – #33 Jakob Silfverberg
#49 Max Jones – #21 Isac Lundestrom – Brett Leason

Defensemen
#4 Cam Fowler – #3 John Klingberg
#29 Dmitry Kulikov – #6 Jamie Drysdale
#28 Nathan Beaulieu – #22 Kevin Shattenkirk

Goaltenders
Starter: #36 John Gibson
#41 Anthony Stolarz

Injured/Out: Sam Carrick, Urho Vaakanainen