The Maple Leafs will try to avoid their quickest best-of-seven playoff elimination in the Auston Matthews era tonight at TD Garden (7:00 p.m. EST, Sportsnet/CBC/ESPN).

We are now in do-or-die territory for the 2023-24 edition of the Maple Leafs. They are coming off an uninspired performance in Game 4, which has left the fanbase teeming with frustration and clamoring for change. The history of this group and the series to date does not give much optimism that they will be able to pull off a comeback against the Boston Bruins. Everybody is counting them out, and we will see how they respond, with drastic ramifications potentially around the corner at the highest levels of the organization if they don’t pull off a miracle.

All attention will be focused on Auston Matthews‘s availability. He departed Game 4 with an illness. He briefly skated this morning but did not take part in line rushes. According to Sheldon Keefe, team doctors will determine his status later today. Looking for a spark and a few more game-changing saves, Joseph Woll is projected to start tonight for the Maple LeafsTimothy Liljegren is drawing back in for TJ Brodie, who had a rough night in his first appearance in the series in Game 4. If Matthews is able to play, expect Nick Robertson to draw out of the lineup after an ineffectual showing on the fourth line with David Kampf and Ryan Reaves.

The Bruins will look to close out the series backstopped by Jeremy Swayman, who has been dominant with a league-leading 8.5 Goals Saved Above Expected in the playoffs. Matt Grzelcyk will replace Kevin Shattenkirk on the Bruins’ blueline after he was scratched for both games in Toronto.

Maple Leafs’ Keys to Game 5

via Anthony Petrielli

Just two keys for tonight.

  • It has to be us against the world at this point. The Toronto media is circling, fans are (rightfully) livid, and the effort has been seriously questioned. They have an opportunity to dig in and respond. We’ll see what they do.
  • Otherwise, special teams and health are the story.

Game Day Quotes

Sheldon Keefe on the team’s mindset coming off a disappointing Game 4 loss:

You definitely felt the disappointment, but it was important we got right back to it the next day, bringing the guys in and talking through the situation. There is still tremendous belief amongst the group.

We also know what the challenge is. That is why you try to focus on tonight and preparing for tonight. You go out and give everything you have to earn another game on the schedule.

Keefe on whether frustration is building around the various health situations:

It is part of the job. A lot of teams — frankly, all teams — go through it. You are hoping that when playoffs come around, you will be at full capacity. That is not always the case. It started for us with Bobby McMann. But teams deal with different things that come up.

We have won one game in this series already in Game 2 without Willy and Bobby. No matter what the situation is… Boston had an injury on defense, made some changes on defense, and got better in the series as a result.

Things happen, and good teams respond well to those situations. And we have all season.

Keefe on Joseph Woll’s readiness to enter the series:

He has stayed with his regular routines. He is a very regimented guy. He is very detailed in handling and taking care of himself. He maximizes his practice reps. He has been outstanding in the practices we’ve had since preparing for the playoffs. He has really looked at those as his games. To me, he has been really, really good there. He is ready for an opportunity to come in.

Keefe on whether the Bruins forfeiting a 3-1 series lead to Florida last spring serves as inspiration: 

Nothing to do with Boston specifically, but it is a fresh reminder that these things happen. Teams do come back. We have been on the other side of one. These things happen and are possible. They are not possible if you don’t start with one. That is where we are at tonight.

Ryan Reaves on the need to channel the right emotions in a 3-1 series hole:

You have to get excited for these ones. Until the series is over, it’s not over. This team gave up a lead in the same 3-1 situation last year. Sports are a crazy thing. We have all seen some crazy comebacks in our lives. I have been a part of a few. We are just excited to start it up today.

Reaves on the mentality required to stage a 3-1 series comeback:

Not looking at the 3-1. If you dwell on it too much, it creeps into your mind. You just have to take it game by game. You have to look at what you have done in the regular season. You have put three games together before, right? It is not out of the realm to do it again.

Jake McCabe on whether Florida’s 3-1 comeback vs. Boston is a source of inspiration: 

It has definitely been brought up. We are trying to put pressure on their group over there. They are sitting comfy at 3-1. We want to put pressure on that. It starts with a win tonight.

Jim Montgomery on weighing up whether to make changes to a winning lineup as players — such a Derek Forbort — become healthy:

You don’t want to change things just to change things, but if you think your team can get better because of matchups or history with players and where you think they might be utilized to help the Bruins, that is when you look at potentially making changes.

Montgomery on the points of emphasis heading into Game 5:

I want to see us start on time. We know it will be a hectic crowd. TD Garden will be rocking. I want us rocking right from the start.

Montgomery on whether he has a plan for the Leafs without Matthews and a plan for the Leafs with Matthews:

We have a plan for “Matthews is going to play.”

Jake DeBrusk on whether last year’s series defeat to Florida provided a lesson the Bruins can apply to the current 3-1 lead vs. Toronto:

Every playoff series is different, and every year is different… It is something that ended our season last year, and we don’t want it to happen again. We have put ourselves in a good position. The fourth one is the hardest one to win. That’s what everyone always says, and it is true. We have to be at our best to match their intensity.

Maple Leafs vs. Bruins — Series Shot Attempts & Heat Map (5v5)

Toronto Maple Leafs Projected Lines*

#59 Tyler Bertuzzi – #11 Max Domi – #16 Mitch Marner
#23 Matthew Knies – #91 John Tavares – #88 William Nylander
#89 Nick Robertson – #29 Pontus Holmberg – #19 Calle Jarnkrok
#24 Connor Dewar – #64 David Kampf – #75 Ryan Reaves

#44 Morgan Rielly – #46 Ilya Lyubushkin
#2 Simon Benoit – #22 Jake McCabe
#20 Joel Edmundson – #37 Timothy Liljegren

Starter: #60 Joseph Woll
#35 Ilya Samsonov

Extras: TJ Brodie, Mark Giordano, Conor Timmins, Noah Gregor, Martin Jones, Cade Webber
Injured/Out: Bobby McMann, Auston Matthews*

*Game time decision

Boston Bruins Projected Lines*

74 Jake DeBrusk– #18 Pavel Zacha – #88 David Pastrnak
#63 Brad Marchand – #13 Charlie Coyle – #39 Morgan Geeke
#21 James Van Riemsdyk – #11 Trent Frederic – #43 Danton Heinen
#19 John Beecher – #70 Jesper Boqvist – #61 Patrick Maroon

#6 Mason Lohrei – #73 Charlie McAvoy
#27 Hampus Lindholm – #25 Brandon Carlo
#29 Parker Wotherspoon – #48 Matt Grzelcyk

Starter: #1 Jeremy Swayman
#35 Linus Ullmark

Extras: Derek Forbort, Jakub Lauko, Kevin Shattenkirk
Injured/Out: Andrew Peeke, Justin Brazeau, Milan Lucic 

*Note: At playoff time, with neither coach forthcoming on lineup decisions or injury situations, the final lineups won’t be known until close to puck drop.