The Toronto Maple Leafs and Edmonton Oilers will face each other at Scotiabank Arena on Friday with the Leafs looking for a split of the two-game series, but they will have to do it without top liners Joe Thornton and Auston Matthews.
Oilers forward Josh Archibald hit Thornton along the boards in the third period on Wednesday and an MRI Thursday revealed a fractured rib, which will keep the 41-year-old a minimum of four weeks. Matthews. who scored the only Toronto goal in a 3-1 loss on Wednesday, made a brief appearance on the ice at the Ford Performance Centre on Thursday, but is dealing with an upper body injury that will keep him out of the rematch with Connor McDavid.
“He’s dealing with some upper body soreness and it’s going to be a day-to-day situation, but won’t play tonight.” Keefe said after the morning skate. “I’m not too concerned, there was a possibility he would play today, but it still wasn’t feeling right today, so we are going to give it a little bit more time.”
The club will return to the traditional alignment of 12 forwards and six defensemen, with Adam Brooks, Alexander Barabanov and Pierre Engvall being inserted to replace Thornton and Matthews. Keefe would not confirm the line combinations for Friday, but on Thursday, Zach Hyman skated with John Tavares and William Nylander on the top line, Brooks centered between Jimmy Vesey and Mitch Marner, Wayne Simmonds moved up to the checking line with Alex Kerfoot and Ilya Mikheyev, and the fourth line was made up of Barabanov, Engvall and Jason Spezza.
With Mikko Lehtonen being demoted to the practice squad on Thursday, Travis Dermott will pair with Zach Bogosian and Frederik Andersen is expected to be between the pipes.
Nick Robertson was placed on long-term injured reserve to give Toronto some room under the salary cap, and it is expected with Thornton being out for four weeks that he will be placed on LTIR as well.
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