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Tampa Bay Lightning at Toronto Maple Leafs preview: The Battle of Who Could Care Less

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Between the two of them, they’re carrying 19 defensemen.

NHL: Tampa Bay Lightning at Toronto Maple Leafs Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Tampa Bay Lightning at Toronto Maple Leafs: GAME 81

Time: 7:00 pm Eastern Time

Location: Scotiabank Arena

Broadcast/Streaming: SUN, TSN4

Opponent SBNation Site: Pension Plan Puppets

Preview:

In the grand scheme of things, this game doesn’t really matter. The Bolts have locked up the President’s Trophy. The Leafs can’t catch the Bruins for home ice. Basically, both teams’ last two games are warm-up games for the playoffs and a chance for injured (and sick) players to get back into game shape. Both teams are coming off losses to desperate, fighting-for-wild-card-spots teams in Montreal and Carolina.

The Leafs have pretty much been sick since the All-Star break. And not in a good way. Various players have missed games and practices due to the flu. They’re carrying ten defensemen and were hoping to have Jake Gardiner (who hasn’t played since February) return from injury in this game. If he is healthy enough to play, the Leafs will likely run seven defensemen to ease him back into the lineup with Trevor Moore coming out of the lineup on the fourth line. Jake Muzzin and Nazem Kadri both missed the morning skate and will not play tonight.

Meanwhile, the Bolts are banged up on the blueline as well, with Victor Hedman not returning until the playoffs and Dan Girardi still out indefinitely. As a result, the Bolts are carrying nine defensemen, but it should be the same blueline as the one they iced on Tuesday. Louis Domingue, also injured, will sit this one out as well.

This will be the final meeting of the regular season between these two (who knows what the playoffs may hold). Tampa holds the season series advantage 2-1, outscoring Toronto 12-7 in three games. Their last meeting was not pretty for the Leafs — and they’ll look for redemption tonight. But really, let’s just hope that this is the end of the injuries for everyone. After all, we’ll want both teams at full strength if they meet in the second round.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Forwards

Ondrej Palat - Steven Stamkos - Tyler Johnson

Yanni Gourde - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov

Alex Killorn - Anthony Cirelli - Mathieu Joseph

Ryan Callahan - Cedric Paquette - Adam Erne

Scratched: J.T. Miller, Danick Martel

Defense

Ryan McDonagh - Erik Cernak

Anton Stralman - Mikhail Sergachev

Braydon Coburn - Jan Rutta

Scratched: Cameron Gaunce

Injured: Victor Hedman, Dan Girardi

Goalies

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Eddie Pasquale

Injured: Louis Domingue

Toronto Maple Leafs

Forwards

Zach Hyman - John Tavares - Mitch Marner

Patrick Marleau - Auston Matthews - Kasperi Kapanen

Andreas Johnsson - William Nylander - Connor Brown

Tyler Ennis - Frederik Gauthier - Trevor Moore

Scratched: Nazem Kadri, Nic Petan

Defense

Morgan Rielly - Ron Hainsey

Jake Gardiner - Nikita Zaitsev

Travis Dermott - Calle Rosen

Scratched: Jake Muzzin, Igor Ozhiganov, Martin Marincin, Justin Holl

Goalies

Frederik Andersen

Garret Sparks

UPDATE:

After morning skate, Mike Babcock confirmed neither Muzzin nor Kadri would play tonight, and that Gardiner would be a game-time decision. Dan Girardi was on the ice with the team this morning. The Lightning’s lines at morning skate indicate Callahan will go in for Miller tonight. Both teams’ lineups have been updated.