As the Toronto Maple Leafs prepare to play the Montreal Canadiens tonight, a number of reports have come out about key Maple Leafs’ players’ injuries. In this post, I’ll share the latest news about starting goalie Frederik Andersen, newcomer Nick Foligno, and hard-working winger Zach Hyman.
Item One: There’s a Plan for Frederik Andersen
Today the Maple Leafs announced that they had a plan for starting goalie Frederik Andersen, who’s been out of the Maple Leafs’ lineup since March 19 with a lower-body injury. Andersen confirmed earlier this week that the injury was a problem with his knee that made it hard for him to move in the crease. The plan is that Andersen will be moved to the AHL’s Toronto Marlies on a conditioning loan and will play half of a game today for the Marlies against their AHL opponent the Manitoba Moose.
After the game, Andersen will be evaluated by both the Maple Leafs’ and the Marlies’ staff to see how his body held up during the game. After his “conditioning time,” the organization will make a decision about the wisest course of action moving forward.
If all goes well with this plan, Andersen might play a few games with the Maple Leafs prior to the start of the playoffs. On the season, Andersen has a record of 13-8-2, a goals-against-average of 2.91 and a save percentage of only .897 in the 23 games he’s played this season.
Item Two: Nick Foligno Is Out of the Lineup for the Next Two Games
It might have been a mysterious injury – and no one really saw how Nick Foligno actually injured himself – but it was moderately serious. As a result of some tweak Foligno suffered stopping quickly in front of Canadiens’ net minder Jake Allen during Monday’s game, Foligno suffered an upper-body injury and won’t play in Thursday game against the Canadiens.
Foligno wasn’t at practice on Wednesday and the word was that it’s unlikely he’ll be able to play on Saturday as well. As his head coach Sheldon Keefe noted, the team will take Foligno’s injury “one day at a time.”
In the near future, because it’s more important that the Maple Leafs ensure Foligno’s ready for the playoffs, they won’t rush the veteran forward back until he’s ready to go. During the five games he’s played with line-mates Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner on the team’s top line, Foligno has contributed four assists.
Item Three: Zach Hyman Attends His First Practice Since His Injury
Obviously, Zach Hyman’s sprained knee is healing because he showed up at practice on Wednesday. He was wearing a non-contact jersey, but even in that capacity it’s exciting news for Maple Leafs’ fans and the organization. This was Hyman’s first practice with the team since he was injured in a knee-on-knee hit with the Vancouver Canucks’ Alexander Edler on April 18.
The Maple Leafs obviously hope Hyman would see some game action before the playoffs begin, but it’s probably more likely he’ll join the active roster right at the start of postseason play. Hyman has had a banner season, scoring 15 goals and 18 assists (for 33 points) in his 43 season’s games.
There’s really no one else like Hyman on the Maple Leafs’ roster, and he’s possibly a playoff difference maker. There are still steps remaining before he sees game action, such as being medically cleared for contact. However, it’s looking good for a Hyman return soon.
Item Four: Stefan Noesen Is Promoted to the Maple Leafs’ Active Roster
Stefan Noesen will be making his first Maple Leafs start on Thursday. He was promoted to the team’s active roster and is expected to become a third-line partner for Ilya Mikheyev and Alex Kerfoot.
This season, Noesen played five games with the San Jose Sharks, but he didn’t score. He was part of the in the three-team trade that brought Foligno to the Maple Leafs on April 11.
Item Five: Riley Nash Hits the Ice for the First Time in a Maple Leafs’ Uniform
Although Noesen will play his first Maple Leafs’ game on Thursday, that isn’t the case yet with newcomer Riley Nash. That said, there’s movement and improvement and Nash actually attended his first practice with the team. However, like Hyman, it was wearing a non-contact jersey.
Nash, who had a slight knee injury prior to the trade, will probably need some time to get up to speed before he sees game action. Like Hyman, that might not be until actual postseason games begin.
What’s Next for the Maple Leafs?
The Maple Leafs come into tonight’s game well-rested but in a solid place in the standings. The team is six points ahead of the Edmonton Oilers and has to be calm about where they sit. They completely control their own destiny.
The one thing on my watch list for tonight’s game is whether Matthews can hit the 40-goal plateau. He’s sitting at an incredible 39 goals, and he hasn’t had trouble scoring against the Canadiens. He has six goals on the season.
Forty would be an accomplishment in this season, especially with his wonky wrist. Here’s hoping.
The Old Prof (Jim Parsons, Sr.) taught for more than 40 years in the Faculty of Education at the University of Alberta. He’s a Canadian boy, who has two degrees from the University of Kentucky and a doctorate from the University of Texas. He is now retired on Vancouver Island, where he lives with his family. His hobbies include playing with his hockey cards and simply being a sports fan – hockey, the Toronto Raptors, and CFL football (thinks Ricky Ray personifies how a professional athlete should act).
If you wonder why he doesn’t use his real name, it’s because his son – who’s also Jim Parsons – wrote for The Hockey Writers first and asked Jim Sr. to use another name so readers wouldn’t confuse their work.
Because Jim Sr. had worked in China, he adopted the Mandarin word for teacher (老師). The first character lǎo (老) means “old,” and the second character shī (師) means “teacher.” The literal translation of lǎoshī is “old teacher.” That became his pen name. Today, other than writing for The Hockey Writers, he teaches graduate students research design at several Canadian universities.
He looks forward to sharing his insights about the Toronto Maple Leafs and about how sports engages life more fully. His Twitter address is https://twitter.com/TheOldProf