Tonight, the Maple Leafs take on the Philadelphia Flyers in a battle between two teams fighting for playoff spots (7:00 p.m. EST, TSN4).

The Flyers are two points up on the Leafs with three games in hand and are toying with the idea of selling. These are the kind of proverbial four-point games that go a long way to not only positioning yourself well for a playoff spot but hurting a team you’re fighting with and encouraging them to sell in the process.

The Flyers are in the middle of a four-game winning streak and are making life uncomfortable for more than a few teams in the playoff race right now.

On the Leafs‘ end, they are looking to continue their strong play against the Blues while integrating some of their stars back into the lineup. It will be interesting to see how Sheldon Keefe manages to balance rewarding some of the strong showings he received from his depth players on Tuesday with the minutes his top players are accustomed to getting, if he does at all.

This will also mark the second game of Morgan Rielly’s five-game suspension, which is particularly noteworthy as the appeal hearing is set to take place tomorrow, making it at least possible that he could be back in the lineup sooner rather than later.

Game Day Quotes

Sheldon Keefe on the challenge presented by the Flyers:

A lot of their young players have taken steps. They play hard. They have played at a playoff intensity and with a playoff mindset from the start of the season. Pair that with some good talent and depth, and it serves you well.

They don’t beat themselves. They make it hard to get to their net at five-on-five and on the penalty kill. They are killing teams in transition. They are as dangerous as anybody on the rush in the entire league.

We have had some trouble with that of late, so we need to clean that up. Against St. Louis, we got away with a bunch that didn’t show up. We broke up plays before it got to our net or the opposition didn’t execute.

As well as we played the other night, if we don’t improve that area of the game tonight, it is going to be tough.

Flyers head coach John Tortorella on the incessant trade rumours surrounding Scott Laughton:

He is an important guy. He is well respected. He is a Flyer. With the intangible that he brings, he cares. It rubs off on people. He has a really good personality for the team concept.

It is what it is with where we are as an organization. We will just see what happens over the next few weeks.

Tortorella on whether there is a fear of losing key contributors to the team such as Laughton ahead of the deadline:

It is not a fear. It is part of the process we are in as a team. We can’t look for [reasons] to not continue our process.

We have so many things to do and so much more of the process to build this team. We can’t be getting too emotional when it comes to what is the best thing for the future of our team. When it is the best thing for the future of our team and building it the right way, we have to follow through. We have to.

The guys know it. We have been very forthright publicly about this. We need to stay with it.

If you are a player who is being talked about, you must be doing something right. You should feel really good about it. I don’t think any of the guys who have been out there as maybe being looked at want to leave.

Danny (Briere), myself, and [Keith Jones] are not looking to move them. We are not actively saying, “Here he is.” But if it works out that it is the best for the building of this team, we have to follow through.

I have tried to be as honest as possible with our team. They deserve that respect. I don’t think they should be surprised. Some teams sit and then kind of bounce it on you. I will not do that with our players. I have too much respect for what they have done.

I want to be totally upfront. That is how we have gone about it here.

Head-to-Head Stats: Maple Leafs vs. Flyers

In the season-to-date statistics, the Leafs hold the advantage over the Flyers in five out of five offensive categories, but the Flyers hold the advantage in four out of five defensive categories.

Toronto Maple Leafs Projected Lines*

*with so many bodies returning to the lineup, official line combinations won’t be known until line rushes in warmups

#23 Matthew Knies – #34 Auston Matthews – #16 Mitch Marner
#59 Tyler Bertuzzi – #91 John Tavares – #88 William Nylander
#18 Noah Gregor – #11 Max Domi – #89 Nick Robertson
#74 Bobby McMann – #29 Pontus Holmberg – #75 Ryan Reaves

#2 Simon Benoit – #22 Jake McCabe
#78 TJ Brodie – #37 Timothy Liljegren
#85 William Lagesson – #55 Mark Giordano

Starter: #35 Ilya Samsonov
#41 Dennis Hildeby

Extra: Maxime Lajoie
Morgan Rielly

Injured/Out: Calle Jarnkrok, Joseph Woll, Conor Timmins, Martin Jones

Philadelphia Flyers Projected Lines

#74 Owen Tippett – #14 Sean Couturier – #11 Travis Konecny
#86 Joel Farabee – #48 Morgan Frost – #89 Cam Atkinson
#19 Garnet Hathaway – #25 Ryan Poehling – #27 Noah Cates
#52 Ollie Lycksell – #21 Scott Laughton – #5 Egor Zamula

#8 Cam York – #6 Travis Sanheim
#18 Marc Staal – #9 Jamie Drysdale
#24 Nick Seeler – #26 Sean Walker

Starter: #33 Samuel Ersson
#40 Cal Petersen

Injured/Out: Rasmus Ristolainen, Tyson Foerster