The Maple Leafs are back home in Toronto today, getting ready to do the hardest thing in playoff hockey – get the fourth win.
Michael Bunting was on the ice:
And is ready to return to the lineup. Will he? Keefe likely won't tell you. Also on the ice was Matt Murray skating ahead of the actual practice, but not participating fully. Victor Mete participated in the regular practice.
We already know Matthew Knies is not coming out of the lineup since Sheldon Keefe stated that very firmly after the Game 4 win. However, Keefe has an issue to solve. The Leafs won two in a row in Tampa by the skin of their teeth with two overtime games. They had trouble controlling the puck, trouble generating offence, and trouble exiting their zone. Their zone entries were stymied in dramatic fashion by a Tampa team willing to line up at the blue line – sometimes into the neutral zone, with at least four players. The only thing worse than the five-on-five zone entry was the power play setup.
Keefe dealt out some changed lines as Game 4 progressed, and Auston Matthews, the hero of the night, sure seemed to benefit. To that end:
Keefe is playing some of his cards close to his vest, and also creating some internal competition. Knies was moved to the top six and Ryan O'Reilly stayed on the third line.
Ilya Samsonov spent some time at practice, but the Leafs generally use Joe Woll and Erik Källgren as full practice goalies.
Knies with John Tavares and Mitch Marner saw over seven minutes at five-on-five in Game 4. They had a positive shotshare and 58% Expected Goals %. Meanwhile the O'Reilly line has been taking on water in these last too cames to the point, they looked like they might sink. Alex Kerfoot will help with that.
Will these be the actual lines for the game tomorrow? They might be, but I'm not going to be surprised if Bunting draws in on the fourth line.