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The Toronto Maple Leafs have encounter numerous injuries throughout the season, but the absences have not slowed down the club, as they lead the NHL with a 15-4-2 record, but that success will be tested as the club will play the first the first of a five-game road swing against the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday.
The Leafs will play three games in Alberta against the red-hot Oilers, who have won five straight and moved to within four points of Toronto in the North Division, before moving on to Vancouver to play a pair against the Canucks.
The club practiced at the Ford Performance Centre in Etobicoke, ON prior to departing for Alberta without center Auston Matthews, who tweaked a wrist injury in the overtime win over Calgary on Wednesday. Matthews is considered day-to-day by Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe and is not being ruled out for Saturday’s game.
In Matthews absence, John Tavares moved up to the top line in between Mitch Marner and Joe Thornton, who missed the last two games with an unspecified injury. Jake Muzzin also returned to practice wearing a full face shield to protect a broken facial bone, both veterans are expected to make their return vs. Edmonton, but Keefe said they will be game-time decisions.
In the goaltending department, starter Frederik Andersen was on the ice prior to practice but did not participate. Goaltenders Jack Campbell and Michael Hutchinson did take part and it is expected that Campbell will make his first start in nearly a month on Saturday.
“I’m happy just to go on the road with the boys.” Campbell said. “(Edmonton is) playing great, they’ve got a real strong team. They’re feeling it right now. It’s a great challenge for us.”
Andersen is still considered day-to-day, but will travel with the team in hope that he will be able to get back into the lineup as the Leafs play five times in eight days.
The Leafs updated the status of 2018 top pick Rasmus Sandin, who sustained an injury blocking a shot in the Toronto Marlies season opener against the Manitoba Moose on February 15. Sandin suffered a foot fracture and will be out until at least mid-March, when the injury will be re-evaluated.
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