“He’s had a big workload here throughout,” noted coach Sheldon Keefe.
Marner leads all of the NHL’s forwards in average ice time this season with a time of 22 minutes and 26 seconds per game. He recorded 21 minutes and 53 seconds on Wednesday.
From Winnipeg Adam Brooks will attract.
What are the priorities tonight?
“Play well, have good habits, do what we can to win the game and, probably most importantly, come out healthy,” Keefe admitted.
After securing first place in the North Division over the weekend, the Leafs struggled to stay focused in an overtime loss to Ottawa.
“It’s an important game just to have the right systems in place, to play the right way and to have good confidence in the team before the playoffs,” insisted the defenseman. Justin Holl. “It will be a competitive game although, from a standings standpoint, there isn’t much to compete, obviously. “
With a win of any kind tonight, the Leafs will finish fourth overall. With an overtime or a shootout loss, they will finish fifth. With a regulation loss, Toronto will drop to sixth.
The Leafs need a win tonight to end the season with an over 0.700 points percentage for the first time in franchise history. Toronto’s previous best record was 41-16-13 (0.679) in 1950-51.
The Leafs went 7-2-1 against the Canadiens in the regular season with 34 goals, but Auston Matthews expects things to tighten up in the playoffs.
“They’re playing with a lot of defensive structure,” Matthews said. “They are difficult to get inside [on]. Obviously they have a good goalie, pretty solid depth throughout their lineup, so it won’t be easy. The offense will not be easy to find, so we have to win it. “
Matthews produced one run in all 10 games against the Habs, finishing with seven goals and seven assists in the season series.
“He’s not as consistent with his tactics as most guys,” said the Canadiens goaltender Jake Allen told reporters in Montreal earlier this week. “A lot of guys, just from experience, find themselves in certain positions and have scored certain goals on certain sides of the net or at certain angles and when they get that puck they tend to go back to those tendencies most of the time. Matthews is an open book, where he sort of does what he feels like and he’s not as easy to read or as easy to understand as most players. “
Allen has played six games against the Leafs this season, posting a 2-3-0 record with a .907 save percentage. Prix Carey, who is set to start Game 1 for Montreal, was 1-2-1 with a 0.868 save percentage against the Leafs.
With 41 goals this season, Matthews is eight ahead of his closest pursuer, Edmonton. Connor McDavid, in the Rocket Richard Trophy race.
“Sometimes he’ll shoot a high glove from a certain spot, the next time he shoots a low blocker, a low glove,” Allen continued. “He’s all over the place and you just have to be on your toes and you have to be patient and kind of try to read his release the best you can.”
Matthews is poised to become the first Leaf to lead the NHL in regular season goals since Gaye Stewart in 1945-46. Toronto started the season with the second-longest drought in the league behind the Rangers, who haven’t boasted of being the goalkeeper since Lynn Patrick in 1941-42.
Matthews hasn’t played more than five scoreless games this year.
“He was so balanced throughout the trade and scored goals at such a breathtaking pace,” said Holl. “What doesn’t get a lot of recognition is that a lot of the goals were even strong. “
Matthews has tied 31 goals this season.
Toronto has converted on just six of 76 power play chances (7.9%) in 31 games dating back to March 4.
The top unit stacked with Matthews, Marner, John Tavares and William Nylander with Morgan Rielly at the top was in a bad mood on Wednesday and allowed a shorthanded goal.
“Just a little disconnected, a little too much of a wait,” said Matthews, who leads the team with 10 power play goals. “We have to keep it simple and just try to pull the puck a bit more and bring the pucks to the net.
“He just needs to run,” Keefe stressed. “If you go back and look at each of the power plays, our best players have the puck on their sticks at different times and we just don’t make a play. Either we give it back to them directly or they take it from Ce. is not a question of structure or anything like that [on Wednesday]. It’s just a matter of having the puck on your stick and making the proper play, and we fail to do that with our first unit. The second unit, which I found excellent, gave us a great goal. “
Jake Muzzin, who probably won’t be on the power play once Rasmus Sandin returns to the lineup and got the power play goal on Wednesday as the Leafs finished 1-for-5. It was just the third power play goal for a Leafs defenseman in the past two seasons. Rielly and Tyson Barrie have the others.
“Confidence is great on the power play,” said Alex Kerfoot, who recently joined the second unit. “You see a couple come in, gain some momentum, and it all relaxes. Going through this stage, I think sometimes we think about it too much, tight at certain points in the game, and force too many plays. If we simplify our game and just focus on the process, we have good players who will get the job done. ”
After missing two games with an upper body injury, Nick Foligno returned to the Leafs roster on Wednesday.
“It was nice to come back,” said the 33-year-old forward. “It was like a game that we weren’t at our best as a group so it’s always difficult to try to find each other, especially with all the special teams. [play]. I hope there will be a little more fluidity for the next one and that I will feel better. “
The game in Ottawa was Foligno’s first time playing on a line with Tavares and Nylander. The line shared the ice for just under nine minutes in a five-on-five and beat the Senators 1-0. Nylander put Tavares on goal.
“They’re so good with the puck and they obviously had a bit of chemistry to play together here,” Foligno said. “You’re just trying to get into spaces and be around the net for them. They have the ability to hang on to the pucks and play with their bodies.
Foligno fired two shots on goal Wednesday and led the Leafs with six hits. He also helped the penalty go 4 for 4.
“He was pretty good,” Tavares said. “We got better as the game progressed. Obviously he hasn’t played for a few days and this was our first time playing with him. He’s been around the block a few times, so he understands how to play the game and find a way to kick-start his game, fit in and stick to his strengths. You could see on Matty’s lens his ability to save time, create space and [he] got me down the puck and made some really good plays to lead to that goal. His ability along the walls and in front of the net is really very good. “
Zach Hyman and Riley Nash are on that trip and it was interesting to see the duo, who are recovering from a knee injury, take part in additional five-on-five drills at the end of optional morning practice. A few regulars, who will be playing tonight, stayed later than usual for the session, including Kerfoot and Ilya Mikheyev, who skated a line with Nash.
“It was more to get some of those reps who didn’t play,” Kerfoot revealed. “For Hymes and Nash it’s a shame they couldn’t get into a game, but they feel great, feel healthy now and doing them reps before the playoffs is kind of the thing. essential. “
Nash also skated a line with Kerfoot and Mikheyev in practice on Tuesday.