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MUZZIN SAYS NEXT 3 GAMES AGAINST HABS A PLAYOFF PREVIEW; HOLL INJURY OPENS THE DOOR FOR ROOKIE DMAN

MAY 3, 2021  (12H43)      MIKE ARMENTI
The Toronto Maple Leafs face the task of a trio of games against the Montreal Canadiens this week in what is likely to be a precursor to the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs later this month.

On Monday, Leafs defenseman Jake Muzzin told the media that the Buds had a team meeting, during which the upcoming three-game series against Montreal would serve as a warm-up of sorts for his club as they continue to try to tighten up the nuts and bolts ahead of the postseason.

"It's a little introduction to maybe the playoffs," Muzzin said. "A little chess match here."

The Leafs are owners of a 5-2 record against the Canadiens this season, but the results of the season series is not necessarily an indication of how competitive the games truly are between the two North Division rivals. Generally speaking, the Leafs seem to get the Habs' best effort when the two teams meet and the games are seldom runaways on either side.

A 7-game playoff series between the Habs and Leafs is long overdue and it's nice to see the Leafs not taking the Canadiens lightly here.


With the importance of the upcoming 3-game series being very high, the Leafs have a rather big hole to fill in the lineup on Monday, as RHD Justin Holl is sidelined after taking a puck to the face in the third period on Saturday night against the Vancouver Canucks. He was bloodied on the play and did not return in the contest.

Following the game, Keefe noted that Holl was in good spirits, despite being rather uncomfortable due to the unfortunate play. It's not known yet how long the big defenseman will be on the shelf, though Keefe doesn't expect it to be a lengthy stretch.


At practice on Monday, Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe had rookie defenseman Timothy Liljegren slotted in on the right side of the 2nd pair with the aforementioned Muzzin. Liljegren has played just one game so far this season, last Thursday against the Canucks, landing 3 hits and blocking a shot in 15:35 of ice time, not looking out of place at the NHL level.

The assignment is a large one for Liljegren, as Holl has been very solid for the Buds this season, but if he can rise to the occasion with this huge opportunity, it could slide his foot in the door to compete for a regular spot in the lineup down the stretch with Travis Dermott and the injured Zach Bogosian. At the very least, it puts him in a good spot heading into training camp in the fall.


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NHL STATS
SEASON
2020-2021GPGAPTS
CONNOR MCDAVID
+4
533268100
LEON DRAISAITL
+2
53304979
BRAD MARCHAND
+2
52283967
MITCH MARNER
+1
54204767
NATHAN MACKINNON
47204565
AUSTON MATTHEWS
+1
50402565
PATRICK KANE
54154964
SIDNEY CROSBY
55243862
MIKKO RANTANEN
+1
49303161
JONATHAN HUBERDEAU
+2
55204161
MARK STONE
53213960
ARTEMI PANARIN
42174158
MARK SCHEIFELE
+2
53203858
ALEKSANDER BARKOV
+1
49263157
SEBASTIAN AHO
55243357
JAKE GUENTZEL
56233457
NICKLAS BACKSTROM
54153853
ALEX DEBRINCAT
50292352
MAX PACIORETTY
48242751
DAVID PERRON
53163551
  COMPLETE STATS
NHL STATS
YESTERDAY
MAY 8, 2021 G A PTS
CONNOR MCDAVID
1 3 4
REILLY SMITH
3 - 3
TIM STUTZLE
3 - 3
ALEXANDER WENNBERG
3 - 3
CONNOR BROWN
1 2 3
PHIL KESSEL
1 2 3
PAVEL BUCHNEVICH
- 3 3
SETH JONES
- 3 3
LEON DRAISAITL
2 - 2
CHRISTIAN DVORAK
2 - 2
  COMPLETE RESULTS