What will the lineup construction be for the Toronto Maple Leafs?
The injury to Zach Hyman opens up one spot in the forward group that the Leafs are hoping will be filled by trade deadline acquisition Nick Foligno.
According to Foligno, that could be as soon as Thursday night in Winnipeg. The former first-rounder was brought in from Columbus for his leadership and tenacity, two elements that have been missing for the Leafs in the past few playoff series.
Those qualities are not lost on veteran Jason Spezza, who played alongside Foligno in Ottawa.
"“He plays a hard style of hockey,” said Spezza, to reporters. “He’s got really underrated puck skills. I think people who don’t know his game well will be surprised by how good he is with the puck. I think that will lend well to fitting in with our group. And he’s just a guy, like Hyms, that plays with emotion, goes to the hard areas, does a lot of things that are really good and really important this time of year. I think he’s going to fit in seamlessly.”"
The team will be without Foligno Tuesday in Vancouver but Monday’s practice offered a glimpse at what the lineup may look like.
Lines at Monday’s practice:
Galchenyuk – Matthews – Marner
Nylander – Tavares – Kerfoot
Robertson – Brooks – Spezza
Thornton – Engvall – Simmonds
Rielly – Holl
Muzzin – Brodie
Sandin – Bogosian
Dermott – Liljegren
Power-play units at Monday’s practice:
Matthews – Tavares – Robertson
Galchenyuk – Thornton – Spezza
William Nylander was late for a team meeting and may be a healthy scratch on Tuesday as a result. The forward group starts to look pretty thin without Nylander, Hyman and Foligno.
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The bigger question may come if the Leafs are fortunate enough to eventually have everyone healthy and showing up to work on time. This is without even considering a possible return from injured reserve from Riley Nash.
Adam Brooks would almost certainly be one of the odd men out in the forward group but who else would be in the press box?
Could Joe Thornton find himself sitting out? The future Hall of Famer has just 12 points in 33 games with the Maple Leafs this season despite seeing ample time on the top line.
Jumbo Joe has been held off of the scoresheet for 16 straight games. He has thrown his body around a little bit more lately, registering 13 hits in the three games prior to Sunday.
He may have to do a lot more of that and also contribute some points if he wants to be a substantial part of a playoff run. Or maybe he just has to keep bringing the good vibes.
What do you think the Leafs will do with the goaltending situation? What does the team need to fix on the power play? Who will be in the lineup for the stretch run? Let us know in the comments below.