The Toronto Maple Leafs were able to scratch one player off their long list of injured players as they take on the Calgary Flames on Wednesday.
Zach Hyman, who has missed two of the last three games, will return to the lineup and help solidify the team’s top-six forward group.
Hyman blocked a shot off his foot a week ago against the Ottawa Senators. He returned on Saturday in a 5-3 win against the Canadiens, but appeared to injure the same foot.
He was kept out of the lineup in their 3-0 loss to the Flames on Monday.
Hyman will play on the left wing with Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner. Nic Petan will be scratched to make room for Hyman.
Without players like Hyman and Joe Thornton, the Leafs had a shortage of players that could play on the wing with their start-studded forwards. Keefe experimented with moving John Tavares from the second-line center role on Monday, but the trio failed to generate any chemistry, and Tavares was moved back into his regular role for the start of the third period.
Hyman’s return means Alex Kerfoot will likely continue to play on the left wing on the second line with Tavares and William Nylander.
Thornton will miss his second-straight game with a lower-body injury.
Starting goaltender Frederik Andersen will miss his second consecutive game with a lower-body injury and remains day-to-day.
“From what I’m told he’s progressing well,” Keefe said when asked if Andersen’s injury timeline is of any concern.
Andersen was a surprise scratch on Monday. He was an active participant in the team’s morning skate.
Backup goaltender Jack Campbell, who has missed the last month with a leg injury, is trending toward a possible return to the lineup for the upcoming road trip which starts on Saturday against the Edmonton Oilers.
“We’ve had to go through the last little bit here without two of our goalies so I mean that is concerning,” Keefe said. “But I think we’re coming out of the other side.”
Michael Hutchinson will likely make his second straight start in goal for Toronto.
Jake Muzzin remains day-to-day with a broken bone in his face.
The Montreal Canadiens relieved head coach Claude Julian and assistant coach Kirk Muller of their duties on Wednesday. Assistant coach Dominique Ducharme has been appointed interim head coach, while Alex Burrows will join the staff as an assistant.
At 9-5-3, the Canadiens are the best team at even-strength shot attempts this season and the move will have an effect on the North Division.
Keefe has some experience with becoming a head coach of an NHL mid-season, replacing veteran coach Mike Babcock on Nov. 20, 2019.
“You come in and you are trying to get to know the players and you’re trying to get comfortable that way and change the energy of the group,” Keefe said about his experience last season. “I think that’s probably the biggest thing.”
Apart from the Ducharme already serving with the NHL club as an assistant, he was named as an interim coach, where Keefe was installed last season with no interim tag.
The Canadiens have lost four of their last five games and this move certainly shakes things up in the division.