Nazem Kadri is back in his old stomping grounds. The Avalanche forward will be making his return to the city that he spent the first ten year of his career and the province in which he’s lived his entire life.
A well-rested Colorado Avalanche team is in Toronto to take on a Maple Leafs team coming off of a very disappointing loss last night. The Avs arrived mid-day yesterday while the Leafs didn’t get home until quite late as they lost of the Philadelphia Flyers on the road less than 24 hours ago.
Having not played since Saturday when they beat the Chicago Blackhawks for the second night in a row, the Avalanche have had time to not only rest, but to heal. Matt Calvert is expected back in the lineup for the first time since he suffered a head injury after a scary play against Vancouver a couple weeks ago, while captain Gabriel Landeskog is on the road trip and could make his return as well.
Nasty Naz back in your area, about to cause mass hysteria pic.twitter.com/sbixcGHbsL— Tom Hunter (@PuckDontLie) December 4, 2019
This game will also provide the potential for revenge as the Avs are looking to defeat the Leafs after falling 5-3 in Denver on Nov. 23.
It’s a revolving door of injuries with this team. Just as soon as some near return, more wounds are revealed. After a couple of practices as a full participant, Nathan MacKinnon could finally get Gabriel Landeskog back on his line. Landeskog flew with the team, and could re-join the lineup tonight. The top line could be fully reunited as Mikko Rantanen will also take the ice.
While Landy is a possibility, it sounds as though Matt Calvert is more of a certainty to be back in the lineup tonight. His high-speed forechecking will go a long way in putting pressure on what could be a tired Toronto lineup.
Head coach Jared Bednar revealed that Colin Wilson will undergo surgery for a lower body injury and is out indefinitely.
This is shaping up to be an entirely different team from the group who fell to the Leafs just a couple of weeks ago. With the top line back together and everyone coming off a much needed break, a strong offense could appear in Toronto tonight.
#Avs first-team power-play unit is Joonas Donskoi, Nazem Kadri, Nathan MacKinnon, Cale Makar and Mikko Rantanen.— Ryan S. Clark (@ryan_s_clark) December 4, 2019
Both Andre Burakovsky and Gabriel Landeskog are still on ice but not participating in those drills.
Matt Calvert, however, is working with the PK unit.
The fact that they’re sitting out PP reps on the game day skate suggests both Landy and Bura will sit out one more game.
Tonight’s game isn’t just a return for Kaadri, Calle Rosen is also making his return to Toronto after playing the last two seasons in the Leafs organization.
Updated Projected Lines
Joonas Donskoi - Nathan MacKinnon- Mikko Rantanen
Matt Calvert -Nazem Kadri- J.T. Compher
Valeri Nichushkin- P.E. Bellemare- Logan O’Connor
Matt Nieto - Tyson Jost - T.J. Tynan
Nikita Zadorov - Cale Makar
Samuel Girard - Calle Rosen
Ian Cole- Ryan Graves
Toronto Maple Leafs
The Leafs are currently tied with the Montreal Canadiens in the Atlantic Division with 30 points each. Since defeating Colorado, Toronto beat the Detroit Red Wings, split home-and-home games against the Buffalo Sabres, and fell to the Flyers. The team is 4-2 since replacing Mike Babcock, head coach Sheldon Keefe.
Their lone goal last night came from Travis Dermott. It was his third of the season and his fifth point of the season. Auston Matthews leads the team in goals with 16 and points with 31. Morgan Rielly has 17 assists which is the most on the team. Those top leaders pose the biggest threat to the Avs tonight, especially since Matthews recorded a goal and an assist in Denver recently.
The Leafs are getting healthy themselves as they expect Mitch Marner to return to the lineup tonight after missing the last month with a high ankle sprain.
Andreas Johnsson - Auston Matthews - William Nylander
Ilya Mikheyev - John Tavares - Mitch Marner (probably)
Zach Hyman - Alexander Kerfoot - Kasperi Kapanen
Pierre Engvall - Frederik Gauthier - Dmytro Timashov
Morgan Rielly - Cody Ceci
Travis Dermott - Tyson Barrie
Jake Muzzin - Justin Holl
After being hung out to dry by his teammates in a 6-1 loss last night, Frederik Andersen is expected to get a rest against the Avs. That means Michael Hutchinson and his 0-5-1 record will face the highest scoring team in the Western Conference. Hutchinson has had the tough assignment of playing on the second night of back to backs but even in that situation, his .876 sv% is something Toronto should be worried about.
Michael Hutchinson skating this morning for #Leafs. Frederik Andersen is not.— Kristen Shilton (@kristen_shilton) December 4, 2019
That would suggest that, perhaps, Andersen is going to start tonight vs. Avs after last night's debacle in Philly. Stayed tuned for Sheldon Keefe's update around 4:45 p.m.
Philipp Grubauer is likely going to get the nod tonight. He played the first quarter against the Leafs last time, but allowed four goals and was pulled in favor of Pavel Francouz. However, he’s well-rested and will be looking to shut down what appears to be a stagnating Toronto offense tonight.