The Maple Leafs are rolling out their opening-night lineup (sans John Klingberg, Mark Giordano, and Calle Jarnkrok) for tonight’s third-from-final preseason game against a close-to-full Montreal lineup at Scotiabank Arena (7:00 p.m. EST, Sportsnet).
With only a Friday-Saturday back-to-back left on the exhibition schedule after tonight, this game represents one of two opportunities for the Leafs to roll out their more-or-less full lineup ahead of the regular season opener. With Jarnkrok still unavailable for one more game, Nick Robertson will plug into William Nylander and Max Domi’s right wing, while Mikko Kokkonen skates with Simon Benoit on the bottom pair with Klingberg recovering from injury and Giordano resting.
The latest injury updates:
- John Klingberg‘s injury is minor and the season opener sounds like a go assuming there are no setbacks.
- After recovering from his neck injury, Calle Jarnkrok is fully participating in practice but won’t play tonight. He’ll likely get into a game this weekend.
- Conor Timmins is out for weeks with a knee injury.
Game Day Quotes
Sheldon Keefe on the opportunity to play close to his full lineup against a close-to-full Montreal lineup:
You like to see the group start to come together in terms of being connected shift to shift and the different roles and responsibilities. It is nice for me to be able to use the bench how we foresee it being used while still trying to keep some of the other minutes down. Having the extra depth will help. Some of the top guys’ minutes previously probably crept higher than I want them to be.
We will share them that way, but we will still try to delegate the roles the way we see them and get everybody slotted in correctly. We have a good group on the other side from Montreal. It should be a good game tonight.
Keefe on whether Martin Jones’ play in preseason would make carrying three goalies ideal:
Everything is up in the air. That is Tre and Brandon [Pridham]. They do what they do to make it all work from the salary cap perspective. That is going to be a big factor in the decisions that are made. They will sort through that.
My job is just to get the group ready.
Keefe on whether he’s learned anything new about Max Domi in camp compared to what he saw on tape:
It has been pretty accurate. If anything, I don’t want to see I was underrating this — he is an accomplished player — but he is faster and more skilled than I thought even. That has been exciting.
He has just had a really good attitude and a great approach. He wants to learn. He is asking questions. He has been working extremely hard. I have been very happy with him.
Keefe on the Jake McCabe – Timothy Liljegren and Simon Benoit – Mikko Kokkonen pairings:
It is a good chance for us to get a look at [McCabe-Lilegren]. They are both guys who can play against good players. I thought McCabe was really good the other night in Montreal. Liljegren has been excellent since day one of camp. To have those guys together is great.
With Rielly and Brodie, it is just the same. With Benoit, we are trying to get him going and get him up to speed.
Kokkonen, for me, has been maybe the surprise of the camp. He has just been very, very solid all the way through. If you look at where he was last year to now, it has been remarkable. From Traverse City right through to preseason, he has been under the radar, but every day has been very solid.
Keefe on Simon Benoit:
He is different than the makeup of a lot of our other guys. He is bigger and more physical. It hasn’t been ideal that he has missed most of camp to this point for a new guy coming in, but we are trying to get him up to speed.
He has one game under his belt. This will be another chance with another morning skate today. We are just trying to get him comfortable.
We like a lot of what he brings. It is just now a matter of kind of seeing how he fits in with the group.
Max Domi on his first game at the Scotiabank Arena in a Leafs sweater:
It is pretty surreal. Growing up, the staff is pretty similar. The locker room is almost identical. It feels like home. I am really excited about tonight.
They have a good lineup, and so do we. It is going to be pretty close to an NHL game out there. Looking forward to it.
Toronto Maple Leafs Projected Lineup
#59 Tyler Bertuzzi – #34 Auston Matthews – #16 Mitch Marner
#11 Max Domi – #88 William Nylander – #89 Nick Robertson
#23 Matthew Knies – #91 John Tavares – #28 Sam Lafferty
#18 Noah Gregor – #64 David Kampf – #75 Ryan Reaves
#44 Morgan Rielly – #78 TJ Brodie
#22 Jake McCabe – #37 Timothy Liljegren
#2 Simon Benoit – #84 Mikko Kokkonen
#35 Ilya Samsonov
#80 Keith Petruzzelli
Montreal Canadiens Projected Lineup
Caufield – Suzuki – Anderson
Harvey-Pinard – Dach – Slafkovský
Pearson – Monahan – Gallagher
Heineman – Evans – Ylonen
Xhekaj – Kovacevic
Norlinder – Savard
Harris – Mailloux