The Maple Leafs will be without Jake Muzzin for the foreseeable future. Head coach Sheldon Keefe announced that the rugged veteran defenseman will miss three weeks with a lower-body injury.
“It looks like we’ll have to push on without him,” Keefe said.
Muzzin left Game 6 against the Canadiens midway through the second period and did not return. Based on the video shown during the telecast, he was skating full stride and may have pulled a groin.
Now the question is: how long will the impact of his loss be felt with Game 7 on Monday night?
“Muzz is a just huge leader for us in general,” said Jason Spezza following Monday’s morning skate. “Very competitive guy, guy that brings it every night, all season. Loves the game and is passionate about it. He’s a guy that is obviously a big piece to us but it looks like we’re going to have to make do without him here potentially for a little bit. “
In the do-or-die Game 7, his loss leaves a huge gap on the Maple Leafs’ blue line. Muzzin has chipped in three points (two goals, assist) in the first six games. In Game 5, he single-handedly led Toronto’s comeback with two goals, including the game-tying tally in the third period.
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A rugged, minutes-eating defenseman, he averaged more than 21 minutes of ice time during the regular season. He leads all defensemen in hits (16) and gaming guys who have played all six games is second behind Zach Bogosian, who should see an elevation to his minutes now, in blocked shots/60 minutes (5.64). Muzzin is also a top penalty killer for Toronto, which enters Game 7 with a league-best 88.9 percent effectiveness. Game 6 was the first time the team allowed any power-play goals — and both occurred after Muzzin left the game.
According to Keefe, Rasmus Sandin will slot into the lineup. The youngster struggled in Game 5 and was on the ice for Montreal’s first and third goals of the game in the first period. He only had three shifts in the second period and one in the third of an overtime loss for the Maple Leafs. Sandin was scratched for Game 6 with Travis Dermott taking his spot.
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