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A Leafs Weekend Preview

Player props, Lineup notes, and lots of speculation on the Leafs heading into the final stretch of the regular season

The Leafs have officially clinched a playoff spot, and now have virtually guaranteed home-ice advantage against the Tampa Bay Lightning in round one. So, what do the last 8 games of the regular season mean for the Leafs? They’re a sort of workshop phase. Keefe will be looking to finalize his defence core, decide on his game 1 forward lineup, and ultimately determine his official #1 goalie.

Firstly, they’ll play their second last back-to-back this weekend against the Senators on Saturday and the Red Wings on Sunday.

The Leafs lead the season series 2-1 vs the Sens but have been outscored 12-10 in those games, mainly because of that embarrassing 6-2 loss back in January.

It would be ridiculous to mention the Leafs vs Senators rivalry without highlighting Auston Matthews' outstanding play. He has an unbelievable 23 goals and 20 assists for a whopping 43 points in just 28 games played. He has recorded a point in 25 out of 28 games played against the Sens, meaning taking Matthews as an any-time point scorer against Ottawa would historically have an 89 percent payout rate.

The Senators won’t go down without a fight, however. Although they’re out of the playoff picture, this Sens team has an impressive attitude toward the end of the season. With a 4-5-1 record in their last 10, they've been just barely outscored 37-35 in their last 10 games, losing 3 of them by only 1 goal.

So while the Maple Leafs are undoubtedly the heavy favourites, expect a tight, entertaining game tonight.

Sunday they’ll face off against the Detroit Red Wings at home. The Leafs lead the season series 2-1 with a +2 goal differential. For sports bettors out there, the final scores were 4-2 Toronto, 4-2 Toronto, and 4-1 Detroit. Meaning that the total goals scored has been over 4.5 and under 6.5 in all three games.

Surprisingly, Michael Bunting has all but eviscerated the Red Wings in his career.

He has 5 goals and 5 assists for 10 points in just six games. Not a bad pick for a player prop vs the Wings.

Lineup Notes

In the last few games, Keefe has been comfortable playing a top pairing of Jake McCabe and T.J. Brodie ahead of Morgan Rielly and Luke Schenn and Justin Holl and Mark Giordano. Liljigren was scratched Sunday against Nashville and played just ten minutes against Florida. Recently, he's fallen out of favour with his coach, and will likely look for a way back into the lineup.

Wayne Simmonds will be out of the lineup with an undisclosed illness. This prompted the Leafs to call up Radim Zohorna from the Marlies on an emergency basis. The six-foot-six, 220-pound left-winger has 11 goals and 20 assists for 31 points in 46 games played in the AHL this season. It is unclear if he will play in either game.

Ryan O’Reilly has made some progress with his injury and has been seen shooting pucks and practicing with the team in a red no-contact jersey. He likely won’t play until Tuesday at the earliest.

Noel Acciari is listed as day-to-day after suffering some kind of neck injury and won’t play tonight against Ottawa. His return date is unknown.

Erik Gustafsson is still away from the team due to personal reasons.

Dave Felsbourg

Saturday, April 1, 2023

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