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Maple Leafs face the Flames one last time

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Are they going to do it with the Flames’ former backup goalie?

Calgary Flames v Toronto Maple Leafs
David Rittich will be close up on Leafs defending now.
Photo by Kevin Sousa/NHLI via Getty Images

Calgary Flames @ Toronto Maple Leafs

7:30 PM on Sportsnet Ontario and Sportsnet West

The Flames and the Maple Leafs have faced each other eight times, and the Leafs have won six, lost two and taken 12 points away from the experience. In one of those games, newly acquired David Rittich pitched a shutout for the Flames.

Normally, the days after the trade deadline involve the excitement of playing newly acquired players, or if you’re a team like the Flames, finally forcing the coach to play the younger players after some of the roster is traded away. The need for cross-border quarantine has changed that, so Rittich is the only acquisition who will be available until some time next week.

The Flames traded away Sam Bennett as well as Rittich, but that’s all they did, netting two picks and a just-drafted prospect. Already on the ground in Toronto, the Flames will fill in their lineup out of their Taxi Squad.

Flames Lines

Johnny Gaudreau - Elias Lindholm - Matthew Tkachuk
Andrew Mangiapane - Sean Monahan - Dillon Dube
Milan Lucic - Mikael Backlund - Joakim Nordstrom
Josh Leivo - Derek Ryan - Brett Ritchie

Mark Giordano - Chris Tanev
Noah Hanifin - Rasmus Andersson
Juuso Valimaki - Michael Stone

Jacob Markstrom
Louis Domingue

From morning skate

Assuming Markstrom is the starter as he appears to be, there’s not much difference between this and their usual lineups. But I won’t be surprised if the Flames make over their roster this offseason.

The Leafs arrive back in Toronto to play something that’s fairly rare this season — a back-to-back with travel in between. Unfortunately, their first game wasn’t a great success. They played a poor first period, dug a hole and never climbed out. Jack Campbell was not the best goalie in the NHL, but was hardly the only culprit in the loss. However, with his injury history this season, and the still very murky picture presented of Frederik Andersen’s health, the Leafs would be foolish not to start Rittich against his former team.

One of the things about this season that is likely fairly frustrating to teams, and particularly the Leafs for the next week, is that players acquired count against the salary cap even if the team is prevented from using them by quarantine restrictions. The 23-man limit is gone, and with Andersen on LTIR, the Leafs have a lot of room right now to fit players in, but it’s not infinite.

Ben Hutton and Nick Foligno are on the roster, and the Taxi Squad is also full and includes Antti Suomela who is also not yet available. There will likely be some shifting around to get a roster the Leafs are happy with for this game, but the lines are expected to be little different from what they have been since William Nylander had to sit out for seven days minimum.

Leafs Lines

Alex Galchenyuk - Auston Matthews - Mitch Marner
Ilya Mikheyev - John Tavares - Zach Hyman
Joe Thornton - Alexander Kerfoot - Jason Spezza
?? - Pierre Engvall - Wayne Simmonds

Morgan Rielly - TJ Brodie
Jake Muzzin - Justin Holl
Travis Dermott - Zach Bogosian

David Rittich
???

Sheldon Keefe was noticeably unhappy with his fourth line in last night’s game, and then he noticeably used Joe Thornton and Jason Spezza a lot as the game wound down to a loss. The reduced minutes hit Engvall as centre of the line more, and that ongoing drama might very well explain the acquisition of Riley Nash. Nick Robertson and Wayne Simmonds played a couple of shifts without Engvall — one with Matthews, one with Tavares — but then they barely saw the ice the rest of the game. Robertson played a Barabanov-esque eight minutes.

A whole new lineup will come as the addition of Nick Foligno and the return of Nylander shifts everyone around next week, and right now, the signaling is strong that Engvall should air out that doghouse he built at the start of the season.

Two players have been sitting on the Taxi Squad for a while, not playing, and it might be their turn to play too-few minutes to matter. Adam Brooks and Scott Sabourin are the available forwards without making moves to call up someone from the AHL. Or Robertson might play again.

The backup could be Campbell, or he might be Hutchinson, giving Campbell a rest day. Sheldon Keefe is scheduled to talk to the media later this afternoon, so those answers might come then, or in warmups tonight.

Until then, Leafs, douse those Flames, one last time.