Coming off a disappointing 5-3 loss on home ice to the San Jose Sharks, the Toronto Maple Leafs are right back at it Saturday, with a visit to Pittsburgh to take on the Penguins.
While there was some frustration in last night’s media availability, especially over the lack of production from the top line, it sure sounded like head coach Sheldon Keefe expects to have his familiar lines in place for Saturday’s game.
The only real change, it appears, for the Maple Leafs would be to have Jack Campbell in goal, following Michael Hutchinson’s start against San Jose. Campbell has been outstanding early in this season, posting a .953 save percentage. He has stopped 82 of 86 shots faced.
Although this is the second game of a back-to-back scenario for the Maple Leafs, they will have their starting goaltender in net and should have their top-end forwards eager to bounce back after a lacklustre performance against the Sharks Friday.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are 2-2-1 through five games.
Toronto’s expected lineup for the sixth game of the season:
Ritchie – Matthews – Marner
Bunting – Tavares – Nylander
Kerfoot – Kampf – Kase
Engvall – Spezza – Simmonds
Rielly – Brodie
Muzzin – Holl
Sandin – Dermott
Toronto is catching Pittsburgh at an especially difficult time for the Penguins. The Penguins came into the season missing Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, both recovering from offseason surgeries and while Crosby appears to be closer to a return, the Penguins are notably deficient down the middle of the ice without their top two centres.
Then veteran winger Bryan Rust landed on the injured list and veteran centre Jeff Carter tested positive for Covid-19, so Pittsburgh is digging deep not only on the centre depth chart but for their top-six forwards. Heading into Saturday’s matchup, Pittsburgh is running Evan Rodrigues, Teddy Blueger, Drew O’Connor, and Brian Boyle down the middle of the ice.
O’Connor has played 13 career NHL games and Boyle, who had a stint with the Maple Leafs in the 2016-2017 season, sat out all of last season.
The Maple Leafs will also meet up with Kasperi Kapanen, the former Leafs winger who was traded to Pittsburgh in a package that sent a 2020 first-round pick as well as Evan Rodrigues and Filip Hallander to Toronto. The first-round pick was used by the Maple Leafs to select Rodion Amirov. Rodrigues has since returned to Pittsburgh, as has Hallander, who remains a prospect in the American Hockey League.
Pittsburgh’s defence is in a healthier state, as Mike Matheson has recently returned to the lineup.
Tristan Jarry is expected to start in goal for Pittsburgh. He was sidelined by Covid-19 protocols earlier in the week.
Pittsburgh has a 2-0-2 record through four games, earning at least one point in each of their four contests.
Here is the Penguins’ expected lineup for Saturday’s game:
Guentzel – Rodrigues – Kapanen
Aston-Reese – Blueger – McGinn
Zucker – O’Connor – Heinen
Simon – Boyle – Lafferty
Dumoulin – Letang
Pettersson – Marino
Matheson – Ruhwedel
Watch on CBC/Sportsnet and listen on TSN 1050 in Toronto.
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