In talking to TSN’s Mark Masters, Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe gave several updates on his team, which has several players banged-up. One of those players is rookie Michael Bunting. The breakout forward suffered an undisclosed injury in last night’s game, and while he did take a puck to the face, the belief is that the injury is in fact to Bunting’s leg. According to Keefe last night, he expected Bunting to miss some time, but did not disclose how much. Today, Keefe reiterated that Bunting would certainly miss some time, but did add that he woke up feeling a lot better than expected (link). Still, the team will wait until they get back to Toronto after their road trip to further evaluate Bunting and get a more clear picture of how much time he will miss.
Bunting’s absence, especially at this juncture, is of concern for Toronto. The team has several formidable offensive weapons, but Bunting’s breakout season, which has seen him score 23 goals along with 40 assists in 79 games has helped to take some focus off of Toronto’s other weapons. Tonight’s game at the Washington Capitals will be the first Bunting has missed this season.
- John Tavares, the Maple Leafs’ captain, will also miss tonight’s game, his second of the season and first since November (link). Tavares’ absence should be of no concern to Maple Leafs fans, as Keefe assured that this was merely a case of load management, acknowledging that despite being injured, Matthews’ absence from the lineup provided him with a break heading into the playoffs, something Tavares has not had.
- Defenseman Jake Muzzin will also be out of the lineup tonight, missing his sixth straight game (link). The exact nature of Muzzin’s injury is not clear, however it is not believed to be connected to the concussion that saw him miss significant time in February and March. Keefe did not provide any timeline for Muzzin on a return or any further absence. Muzzin has played in just 45 of the Maple Leafs’ 79 games this season, but getting him back in the lineup would be a key addition heading into the playoffs.
- Also missing tonight’s game is defenseman Timothy Liljegren, though his injury is considered a minor one (link). Keefe did not elaborate on the nature of Liljegren’s injury, or mention any timetable, however it does appear that the recently recalled Carl Dahlstrom will draw into the lineup in his place. The 27-year-old Dahlstrom has played in just two games at the NHL level this season for the Maple Leafs, recording an assist. In 47 games at the AHL level with the Toronto Marlies, Dahlstrom has 14 points, all assists.