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The Toronto Maple Leafs hope to break through offensively for the first time since returning from the Global Series in Sweden, as they take on the Seattle Kraken at Scotiabank Arena on Thursday. The Leafs have scored only six goals in regulation in an overtime loss to Chicago, a 3-2 loss in Pittsburgh, and a 2-1 shootout victory over Florida on Tuesday.
The win was due mostly to goaltender Joseph Woll’s 38-save performance, and head coach Sheldon Keefe confirmed that he will make his third straight start against the Kraken.
“(Woll) just looks confident and comfortable in the net. He hasn’t had a dip in either of these two games. It is two good ones in a row.” Keefe said. “You are starting to get into a bit of a rhythm now in terms of our schedule, which we haven’t had for quite a while now. It just sort of makes that decision somewhat easy.”
Injuries will force a change in the Toronto lineup, as it was confirmed that veteran defenseman Mark Giordano will be out week-to-week with a broken finger.
On the blueline, William Lagesson will be inserted on the second pairing with Jake McCabe, leaving the recently returned Conor Timmins on the bottom pairing with Simon Benoit. Maxime Lajoie was recalled from the AHL Marlies with Giordano likely to miss most or all of December.
There was only one change in the forward lineup, with Bobby McMann replacing Ryan Reaves on the fourth line with David Kampf and Noah Gregor. William Nylander will stay with Auston Matthews and Matthew Knies, while Mitch Marner remains on the second line with John Tavares and Tyler Bertuzzi.
The injury to Giordano leaves the Leafs without three of the six defensemen that started the season. Timothy Liljegren skated on Wednesday for the first time since being can openered by Brad Marchand on November 2nd, but Keefe indicated he is not close to returning at this point. With John Klingberg’s status for the rest of the season to be clarified later this week, GM Brad Treliving is in a position where the need to bolster his blueline looks to be imperative, but the trade market for defensemen at this point is rumored to be pricey.
Unless a bargain pops up, the Leafs will likely look to weather the storm as they did last season when Morgan Rielly, TJ Brodie, and Jake Muzzin went down and got through a stretch with a short-handed blueline.