Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Acciari, Nylander, Samsonov, Brodie

The New York Islanders and the Toronto Maple Leafs meet on Tuesday in a recreation that’s possible extra necessary to the Islanders than the Maple Leafs. The groups have confronted one another twice this season, with every crew successful one recreation. 

Both groups have been enjoying properly recently, with the Islanders coming off a profitable western street journey the place they received two of their three video games. The Maple Leafs most not too long ago received back-to-back video games on Friday and Saturday. 

The Maple Leafs meet Pierre Engvall and the New York Islanders tonight.
(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Another storyline is that John Tavares will likely be returning to play in opposition to his former crew. As properly, the Maple Leafs will likely be enjoying in opposition to Pierre Engvall. Since touchdown with the Islanders, Engvall is on a four-game level streak (three objectives, two helpers). The 26-year-old winger has landed properly on the Islanders’ second line with Brock Nelson and Kyle Palmieri.

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Item One: Now Time for Maple Leafs to Solidify Home-Ice Advantage 

The Maple Leafs have secured a playoff spot with their 42-18-9 report, which provides them 93 factors and a 15-point lead over the ninth-place crew within the Eastern Conference. They are additionally in place to earn home-ice benefit within the first spherical, main the Tampa Bay Lightning by three factors within the race for second place within the Atlantic Division.

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Winning each video games in a back-to-back, home-and-away set was necessary for the Maple Leafs to determine some momentum heading into the playoffs. The crew has not received the Stanley Cup in 55 years, which is the longest drought within the NHL. They beat the Carolina Hurricanes 5-2 on Friday evening earlier than holding off a late comeback by the Ottawa Senators.

Item Two: Maple Leafs Scoring Depth 

Although the crew doesn’t have a participant main the NHL in scoring this season, the crew’s depth is robust. Mitch Marner stands simply 4 factors exterior the NHL’s high 5 level producers and ranks fourth with 63 assists. William Nylander is within the NHL’s high 20 in factors.

All 4 of the crew’s high gamers are producing a degree per recreation. Marner leads the crew with 26 objectives and 63 assists (for 89 factors) in 69 video games. Nylander is 10 factors behind with 35 objectives and 44 assists (for 79 factors). Auston Matthews has scored 31 objectives and 39 assists (for 70 factors) in 62 video games, and Tavares has 30 objectives and 39 assists (for 69 factors) in 68 video games. 

Item Three: Noel Acciari Is Expected Back within the Lineup Tonight

Noel Acciari is predicted to return to the Maple Leafs’ lineup tonight in opposition to the Islanders. He’s recognized for his bodily play and his reliability. He’s additionally developed sturdy chemistry with David Kampf, who is among the most underrated gamers on the crew.

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Acciari is just not the flashiest participant on the ice, however he’s sensible and brings his well-rounded skillset recreation after recreation. He finishes checks and performs the form of bodily recreation that helps his crew set up a robust forecheck and management the play.

Noel Acciari Toronto Maple Leafs
Noel Acciari, Toronto Maple Leafs (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

With Acciari, Kampf, and Zach Aston-Reese, the Maple Leafs have constructed an efficient fourth line that may contribute in a myriad of the way, whether or not it’s by producing offensive probabilities, enjoying a bodily recreation, or offering defensive assist. In truth, this appears to be probably the most stable fourth line they’ve had in lots of seasons. That depth will likely be essential for his or her postseason success.

Item Four: Ilya Samsonov Gets the Start Tonight

Unless one thing (un)anticipated (pun meant) occurs, Ilya Samsonov is slated to begin in objective for the Maple Leafs in opposition to the Islanders. In a approach, the sudden actually is predicted; it all depends on the potential arrival of Samsonov’s child. His spouse is because of ship any time now, which signifies that head coach Sheldon Keefe might make a change within the web.

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It’s excellent news that Matt Murray had a robust recreation in Ottawa on Saturday. Maple Leafs followers must hope that each goaltenders can be found to separate the workload till the top of the common season.

Could a change over the subsequent few video games transfer Murray forward of Samsonov because the crew’s primary? How a lot will rely upon the efficiency of each goalies within the remaining video games of the common season to see who begins within the playoffs?

Item Five: TJ Brodie Might Not Play Tonight

T.J. Brodie was injured blocking a shot in Saturday’s recreation. The most up-to-date report remained unsure whether or not he’ll be out there for Tuesday’s recreation. Brodie missed Monday’s observe, and Erik Gustafsson partnered with Morgan Rielly as an alternative. 

T.J. Brodie Toronto Maple Leafs
T.J. Brodie, Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo by Kevin Sousa/NHLI by way of Getty Images)

As all the time, Brodie’s been a value-added for the Maple Leafs this season. He has scored a few objectives and added 9 assists (for 11 factors) in 47 video games.

What’s Next for the Maple Leafs?

I’ve to marvel what Keefe is pondering when he adjusts his line combos. Although the narrative has been formed round making an attempt to “get both Tavares and Nylander going,” perhaps there’s extra to it.

It’s onerous to fault both Tavares’ or Nylander’s play not too long ago. Tavares has been a point-a-game participant all through March, which is about pretty much as good because it will get. Nylander’s scoring has dipped a bit for positive, however he’s nonetheless enjoying properly. His go that nearly resulted in Bobby McMann’s first NHL objective was a factor of magnificence. He’s driving the play, which could be the purpose.

Related: Maple Leafs’ Best Choice Is O’Reilly at Third-Line Center

There could be two different elements within the wind. First, is that this a option to prepare for Ryan O’Reilly‘s return from a broken thumb? It would make sense to have three “top-six” lines on the same team. Second, is Keefe challenging Nylander by giving him his own line to drive?

Keefe put Nylander back with McMann and Sam Lafferty. That’s a pace line. Is Keefe making an attempt to construct a line that performs with extra tempo? If so, can Nylander carry that line? 

I ponder if Keefe could be making an attempt to push/encourage Nylander to take the subsequent step in his profession – to begin pondering like a crew chief. I’m wanting ahead to seeing what that line can do.

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