The Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens are set to renew their rivalry in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs this week and although we got our first look at the lineup the Canadiens might be fielding for that game on Saturday, we had yet to see what the Leafs might have in store for the Habs later in the week.
On Sunday Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe gave us our first look at what the Leafs will look like when they get set to take on the Canadiens, free of the salary cap constraints that caused the team so many headaches during the regular season. Like every team in the league, the Leafs no longer have to worry about the salary cap in the playoffs and are therefore free to bring out what they feel is the best possible group of players for the job.
The Leafs will be going with a bit of a different look for the game, although do keep in mind that gamesmanship in the playoffs is a very real thing and these lines could change at a moments notice. Here's how the Leafs lines broke down on Sunday:
Zach Hyman-Auston Matthews-Mitch Marner
Nick Foligno-John Tavares-William Nylander
Alex Kerfoot-Rielly Nash-Ilya Mikheyev
Joe Thornton-Jason Spezza-Wayne Simmonds
Morgan Rielly-T.J. Brodie
Jake Muzzin-Justin Holl
Rasmus Sandin-Travis Dermott
The fact that Campbell will be getting the start in the playoffs should come as no surprise at this stage of the season, especially when you consider how long Andersen had been sidelined due to injury. Perhaps the only surprise here is the absence of forward Alex Galchenyuk, however I suspect that salary cap constraints played a significant role in why the Leafs used him so much down the stretch.
Joining Galchenyuk on the sidelines will be Pierre Engvall, Adam Brooks, Denis Malgin, Zach Bogosian, David Rittich and Mac Hollowell. Once again all of this could change before the two teams face off on Thursday, it is not uncommon for head coaches to try and fake each other out before a big playoff game, however I suspect that this is indeed the lineup the Leafs intend to begin the playoffs with.