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Leafs Practice Report: Goalies, Brodie, and John Tavares becomes a millennial

The Toronto Maple Leafs had their practice session on a rare Saturday afternoon after a loss to Ottawa last night and ahead of Sunday’s game against Washington.

center of the second line

Auston Matthews has been out of the lineup for about three weeks (conveniently just long enough for the All-Star hiatus), which has caused some difficulties with the forward lineup. Pontus Holmberg was initially moved to the second row to play with Nylander and Järnkrok, but it quickly didn’t work and he was shuffled back to the fourth row. Alex Kerfoot, the tried and tested option, came in and fared much better. This is where he stayed today.

The goalkeepers

Matt Murray again aggravated an injury that plagued him during last night’s warm-up – according to several players and staff it wasn’t Nylander’s high shot. He didn’t run today and his status is currently up in the air. Also off the ice was Ilya Samsonov, who doesn’t usually skate after a start.

The Toronto Marlies played last night, Joseph Woll stopping 30 of 31 for the win in Winnipeg. The AHL team remains in Winnipeg for Sunday afternoon’s rematch, so it could take up to 3-5 business days to get someone chauffeured back to Toronto for tomorrow’s game. Jokes aside, with the Marlies having a day off between games it’s reasonable that they could send one of the two goalies to Toronto and start the other without much trouble. However, Keith Petruzzelli’s carrier pigeon from Newfoundland to Manitoba can take several months.

The plan appears to be for Samsonov to face his former team on Sunday. The situation tends to leave Matt Murray unavailable off the bench. I’d say Joseph Woll deserves the call-up considering he’s on an 11-game win streak, lost just once this season and has a .928 save rate. That number from last night is actually not as high as I would have thought given all the wins, but the truth is that the Marlies are among the top scorers. Is Woll having his Garret Sparks season? That’s a discussion for another day.

TJ Brodie

As you can see from the lineup above, TJ Brodie was back in practice in his regular lineup on top pair alongside Morgan Rielly. Signs suggest Brodie will return to the lineup in the next 27 hours if all goes well (yes, it’s a 5pm start). It will be really good to have him back.

John Tavares

Finally, I can’t believe it’s here yet. John Tavares will skate at home tomorrow night in his 1,000th career NHL regular-season game and 331st as a Leaf. In his 999-game career, Tavares has 412 goals, 532 assists for 944 points and is the 375th player in league history to complete a millennium game. He will one day beat Jordie Benn’s brother Jamie Benn to 1000 because Dallas’ next game isn’t until Monday. Thank you football season.

Tavares was expected to overtake several Leafs legends in all-time games by the end of the season, including Tomas Plekanec, Matt Stajan, Todd Gill, Steve Sullivan, Alex Steen and Mike Foligno. And next season we will see Tavares join the elite group of less than 100 players with 1000 points.

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