John Tavares returns, Noah Gregor sits out as a healthy scratch, and Marshall Rifai makes his NHL debut on the blue line as the Maple Leafs look to make it four wins in a row this afternoon in St. Louis (1:00 p.m. EST, Sportsnet Ontario).

Game Day Quotes

Sheldon Keefe on whether he is expecting a better Blues team compared to last week’s matchup (4-1 Toronto win):

Far better. Far better for sure.

We liked our game last time we played these guys, but we are careful not to get too excited about it because I thought they were generally a shell of what we have seen from them of late.

Being back in their building and not at the tail end of a long road trip coming off of the Super Bowl, it will be a little bit of a different feel for sure.

Keefe on the message to Marshall Rifai ahead of his NHL debut:

Just relax.

We don’t know exactly the situation, but you should always be preparing as though you are going to play.

Trust that you are here for a reason and then just don’t complicate it, especially for the type of player that he is. Keep the puck moving, be physical, and make them come through you.

Keefe on the team’s play without Morgan Rielly (3-0):

I think the guys have remained calm and gone out and played. Guys who we have needed to step up and play in different roles have done so and done very well.

Obviously, our top players have stepped up. Auston has been on a tear. The power play was on a tear the other day and has done well for us there.

Guys have stepped up. We are going to need that to continue.

Simon Benoit on the team’s jam of late:

We’re trying to build a brotherhood here. I wouldn’t say we don’t know each other, but we’re getting to know each other. While doing that, it doesn’t mean I can’t defend a teammate. It’s how you build bonds and make a team out of random players.

Blues head coach Drew Bannister on the team’s recent 5-2 loss to Nashville:

I didn’t feel like we worked hard enough away from the puck. When our D were going back for pucks, our forwards weren’t working back quick enough to help out. They would look up, and there would be no one there to make passes to.

We didn’t skate. It was the biggest problem.

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

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

Toronto Maple Leafs Projected Lines

#23 Matthew Knies – #34 Auston Matthews – #16 Mitch Marner
#74 Bobby McMann – #91 John Tavares – #89 Nick Robertson
#59 Tyler Bertuzzi  – #11 Max Domi – #88 William Nylander
#29 Pontus Holmberg – #64 David Kampf – #75 Ryan Reaves

#2 Simon Benoit – #22 Jake McCabe
#78 TJ Brodie – #37 Timothy Liljegren
#83 Marshall Rifai – #48 Max Lajoie

Starter: #35 Ilya Samsonov
#31 Martin Jones

Suspended: Morgan Rielly
Scratched: Noah Gregor
Injured/Out: William Lagesson, Calle Jarnkrok, Joseph Woll, Conor Timmins, Mark Giordano

St. Louis Blues Projected Lines

#89 Pavel Buchnevich – #18 Robert Thomas – #25 Jordan Kyrou
#53 Jake Neighbours – #10 Brayden Schenn – #42 Kasperi Kapanen
#20 Brandon Saad – #12 Kevin Hayes – #79 Sammy Blais
#13 Alexey Toropchenko – #70 Oskar Sundqvist – #26 Nathan Walker

#4 Nick Leddy – #55 Colton Parayko
#47 Torey Krug – #51 Matt Kessel
#6 Marco Scandella – #43 Calle Rosen

Starter: #30 Joel Hofer
#50 Jordan Binnington

Injured/Out: Justin Faulk, Scott Perunovich