CALGARY — After categorizing his team’s win against the Calgary Flames on Sunday as “ugly,” Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe has tinkered with his lineup ahead of a rematch between both clubs.
The Maple Leafs moved forwards Jason Spezza and Alexander Barabanov to the extras group. The duo skated alongside Adam Brooks to make up the team’s taxi squad.
“Our schedule being what it is, it’s been busy and we want to get ‘Spetz’ a day off,” Keefe said. “It gives a chance to look at some of our other guys that we want to get some opportunity to play.”
Joey Anderson and Travis Boyd skated with Pierre Engvall to make up the fourth line. Both players could make their season debut should the line from practice hold for the game on Tuesday.
“We think he had a really good camp with us and he was just one of those guys that were in a very tough spot,” Keefe said of Anderson. “He’s definitely one of those guys we want to give a look to.”
Jimmy Vesey, who skated with Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner on Sunday moved further down the lineup to the third group Alex Kerfoot and Wayne Simmonds.
Ilya Mikheyev moved up. At times, he switched between the top two lines but appeared to settle in with William Nylander and John Tavares.
Zach Hyman also bounced between the top two lines.
Admittedly, with the pandemic being what it is, my view of practice wasn’t what I’m used to. You can only get so close, and I had to rely on a camera with a zoom lens that I packed for this trip instead of binoculars. Hence the lack of clarity with the top two lines.
On defense, the Maple Leafs changed things up between the third and fourth pairs. Mikko Lehtonen skated with Zach Bogosian, while Travis Dermott paired up with Rasmus Sandin, who has yet to suit up in a game this season.
“We’re mindful of Rasmus and the fact that he is here every day and his development at the same time we feel that Mikko Lehtonen, with where he’s at, he’s ahead in regards to getting in the lineup,” Keefe said.
Lehtonen was limited to an average ice time of 7:38 in two games as the team’s seventh defenseman this season. For comparison, Zach Bogosian, has averaged 13:25 while playing on the team’s bottom pair. With long-term injuries to Joe Thornton and Nick Robertson and the unknown extent of Jack Campbell’s ailment, the Leafs have a bit more roster flexibility to see Lehtonen in action in a traditional bottom-six role.
Campbell was not on the ice on Monday. The goaltender was seen in pain during the final minutes of the team’s 3-2 victory against the Flames on Sunday.
“We just have to let things continue to settle down there and get him evaluated to see what his situation might be going forward,” Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said. “We don’t have an update.”
Michael Hutchinson took reps as the main backup goaltender at practice. The only goalie who dressed for a game this season apart from Campbell and regular starter Frederik Andersen was Aaron Dell.
Previously the team’s third goaltender, Dell dressed as the backup to Campbell in the team’s 3-2 win against the Ottawa Senators on Jan. 16.
The Leafs lost Dell when the New Jersey Devils claimed the goaltender off the waiver wire on Jan. 18.