The Toronto Maple Leafs hope to stop the bleeding today against the Washington Capitals. However, they will be short-handed in their quest to do so. Two members of the team – Matt Murray (in goal) and Auston Matthews (the team’s Hart Trophy Winner from last season) – will be out with injuries.
Both were missed in the team’s last home game, which was a tough 6-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators on Friday night. It was the team’s first game without Matthews. Furthermore, Maple Leafs’ head coach Sheldon Keefe reported that Matthews will be out for at least three weeks with a sprained knee.
The Maple Leafs are looking to improve their 2-1-0 record on their five-game homestand. In this edition of Maple Leafs’ Quick Hits, I’ll take a look at some of the news emerging from the team as it prepares to meet the Capitals today.
Related: THE GOOD, THE BAD, & THE UGLY IN MAPLE LEAFS’ 6-2 LOSS TO SENATORS
Quick Hit One: Goalie Matt Murray to Undergo Further Testing
As noted above, goalie Matt Murray suffered an injury during warmups for a game against Ottawa on Friday. He will undergo further testing and is considered day-to-day. If he is unable to play, the team will need to recall a goaltender from the AHL affiliate Toronto Marlies to serve as backup for Ilya Samsonov.
Likely, that goalie would be Erik Kallgren, who’s been up with the big club this season. However, last season’s surprise Joseph Woll has been on a hot streak with the Marlies and might also get the call. Murray’s record on the season has been 11-5-2, with a 2.73 goals-against-average, and a .911 save percentage.
Quick Hit Two: Ilya Samsonov Will Get Another Start
Ilya Samsonov will start in goal for the Maple Leafs today against the Capitals. He’s coming off a 28-save shelling in the 6-2 loss to the Senators on Friday. Maple Leafs’ fans have to hope that the poor game against the Senators was a one-off.
Samsonov actually has been in good form lately. He’s won four of his last six games, putting up a record of 4-1-1 and a .920 save percentage over those games. So far on the season, Samsonov has a 16-5-2 record, a 2.37 goals-against-average, and a .916 save percentage.
Related: Three Takeaways from Maple Leafs’ 6-2 Loss to Senators
Quick Hit Three: T.J. Brodie Could Return to the Maple Leafs Lineup
Steady defenseman T.J. Brodie was wearing a regular jersey in practice for the first time since he was injured on January 7. So it looks as if he’ll be ready to go soon – perhaps even today against the Capitals.
Brodie has missed the team’s past 10 games and is probably itching to return to the lineup as early as possible. During practice, he skated on the team’s top pairing with Morgan Rielly. So far this season, Brodie has played 28 games, with two goals and six assists.
Quick Hit Four: John Tavares Will Play His 1,000 Career NHL Game
John Tavares, the captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs, is on the verge of a huge milestone. He’ll suit up for his 1,000th career game today. And, with Matthews gone, Tavares’ contributions will be much more than ceremonial. He’s expected to assume an even more important role in the team. Tavares started the season on fire but has slowed down a bit. He has 21 goals and 28 assists (for 49 points) this season.
In speaking about his NHL career, Tavares admitted that it’s been a lot of hard work and perseverance. However, that seems to come in second to the fun he has playing the game he loved as a kid. His dream about playing in the NHL has come true.
What a milestone to have played in 1,000 games. He hasn’t taken it for granted.
Good luck, John.
Related: Ex-Maple Leaf Jack Campbell & His Season with the Oilers