The Toronto Maple Leafs are on track the ice a fully healthy lineup against the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday.
Defenseman Zach Bogosian took part in another practice wearing a regulars jersey. This time, he skated on the team’s third pair with Rasmus Sandin.
“The outlook looks good,” Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said. “He got through another hard and competitive practice today.”
Bogosian missed the last month with shoulder injury after he fell awkwardly into the boards in the second period of the team’s 6-3 loss to the Vancouver Canucks on April 20.
His return marks exactly once month since the injury occurred, putting him in line with the ‘minimum of four weeks’ timeline expected.
“It’s a nice addition for us, frankly, we we unsure if he was going to be available for us this series,” Keefe said. “Credit to him for the work he’s put in to get himself ready.”
Bogosian also took his regular reps on the penalty kill skating alongside TJ Brodie.
A Stanley Cup Champion with the Tampa Bay Lightning last season, the Leafs signed Bogosian to a one-year, $1 million contract in October.
The 30-year-old was brought along with other veterans to be part of the team’s evolving leadership group. His physical presence is expected to help contribute to a more complete lineup than the one the Leafs iced during the 2020 bubble.
“A whole lot of nasty,” Leafs forward Simmonds said of Bogosian’s contribution to the group. “Bogo is a big guy, he plays with a mean attitude and he can make plays when need be, too.”
With Bogosian in, Travis Dermott appears to be the odd man out.
Dermott has two goals and four assists in 51 games this season.
The Montreal Canadiens are expected to ice most of their veterans in exchange for younger skilled players and have talked about taking the game to Toronto physically.
“That’s fine, we’re going to play physical ourselves,” Simmonds said. “I don’t think we expect anything less, it’s playoff time.”
The Leafs iced the same lines as they have for the last three days of practice sessions.
The power play also had a similar look. With Zach Hyman’s return, Toronto has switched to a more balanced look of units.
Former Columbus Blue Jackets teammates Riley Nash and Nick Foligno were paired to gather as the two forward on the first penalty kill unit. Forwards Ilya Mikheyev and Alex Kerfoot were on the second PK unit along with Bogosian and Brodie.