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The Toronto Maple Leafs continue to have to shuffle players in and out of their lineup because of injury, with one centerpiece unavailable and three players returning against the Edmonton Oilers at Roger Place on Saturday.
After missing practice on Friday before departing for Alberta, Auston Matthews skated with taxi squad players on Saturday morning but was ruled out of the matchup between the North Division’s top two clubs. Head coach Sheldon Keefe indicated that the NHL’s leading goal scorer is considered day-to-day with an aggravation of a wrist injury that occurred in the 2-1 win over Calgary on Wednesday.
Joe Thornton, Jake Muzzin, and Jack Campbell will all get back into the lineup vs. the Oilers in the first of a three-game series in Edmonton this week. Thornton missed the last two games with an unspecified injury and Muzzin with a broken facial bone. The Leafs blueliner practiced wearing a full face shield on Friday and is expected along with partner Justin Holl to matchup against Edmonton’s dynamic duo of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.
Campbell will make his first start since suffering a lower body injury in Calgary on January 24. Michael Hutchinson will be the backup, but Frederik Andersen did make the trip and is expected to return to action at some point during the eight-day road swing.
With Matthews out, team captain John Tavares will move up to the top line in between Mitch Marner and Thornton, with an expected second line of Zach Hyman, Alex Kerfoot and William Nylander.
The Oilers have won five straight and are expected to ride the hot hand of 39-year-old backup goalie Mike Smith, who is undefeated at 6-0, with a 1.73 GAA and .944 save percentage.
Toronto made a couple of roster moves on Saturday, demoting forward Alex Galchenyuk and defenseman Martin Marincin to the AHL Toronto Marlies and assigning forward Kenny Agostino and defenseman Timothy Liljegren to the taxi squad.
Galchenyuk was acquired by the Leafs from Carolina earlier this month after the 27-year-old forward was dealt by Ottawa to the Canes and cleared waivers.
“Part of our plan was just to get him playing. I think we would have made this move probably a little bit sooner had the Marlies had not been out west.” Keefe said. “It was an easy decision to get him playing in an environment where he can find his game and get comfortable in our system.”
The Marlies are 4-4-0 after an 8-1 loss to Stockton on Friday and return to Coca-Cola Coliseum for the first time this season on Monday against the Manitoba Moose.
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