The Maple Leafs came off the all-star break still grappling with a couple of injuries.
Head coach Sheldon Keefe said Monday that centre David Kampf will be out another week with an undisclosed issue detected from an MRI after Toronto’s last pre-break game in Winnipeg on Jan. 27. The ensuing extra time off helped Kampf’s recovery, but he isn’t practising yet.
Goaltender Joseph Woll was part of the morning skate with Monday night’s starter against the New York Islanders, Ilya Samsonov, and backup Martin Jones, but is not expected to be ready until late next week at the earliest.
“He’s getting more involved in practice, but the timelines we were given is he’s on track for sort of the middle of this month,” Keefe said. “We’re taking it a day at a time. He’s not anywhere close for game action.”
Almost a full year after he was traded by the Leafs to the Isles for a third-round draft pick this June, forward Pierre Engvall was set for his first game back at Scotiabank Arena.
Engvall, who was in 226 games for Toronto and was part of the farm-team Marlies’ 2018 Calder Cup, was likely getting a few seconds of video recognition.
“I enjoyed it here, I was drafted and played here for many years,” he said.
Before Engvall moved on with Rasmus Sandin and Erik Kallgren, there was a significant Swedish influence in the locker room, though William Nylander, Calle Jarnkrok and Pontus Holmberg are carrying the flag now.
“We had a good time with Swedish team dinners on the road, but I don’t know if we ever went to a Swedish restaurant,” Engvall said. “In the beginning when we got here and couldn’t speak very well in English, those dinners helped.”
ST. PATRICK’S DAY IN T.O.
This also was Patrick Roy’s first game back in Toronto as a head coach in eight years, now running the Islanders.
He would’ve passed by the Hockey Hall of Fame, where he was elected in 2006 after holding the NHL record for goaltending wins prior to Martin Brodeur and Marc-Andre Fleury.
Roy was just at the Hall in November for his late Colorado Avalanche boss Pierre Lacroix’s induction, but insisted this trip is not for nostalgia with the Isles in playoff peril.
“I have a lot of things to worry about, (not) what I did in the past. It’s all about my team.”
He added the NHL schedule did him no favours since taking over from Lane Lambert.
“Nice welcome. Dallas, Vegas the Cup champion, then in Montreal, then Florida the Cup finalist and now Toronto. Pretty challenging games. But in limiting the offensive team in our zone (while compiling a record of 1-2-1) we are No. 1 in the NHL.
“This is progression and something we can build on.”
Isles goalie coach and Toronto native Piero Greco had lots of friends to catch up with in the hallway before the game, having worked with many Leafs and Marlies while on Keefe’s staff.
“I worked a lot with him, an incredible guy with so much energy every time you see him, regardless of what you’ve been through, together” Keefe said. “But to win a championship with him through my acclimation to pro hockey, it’s always fun to run into him on the schedule.”
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Auston Matthews was named NHL first star of the week for his all-star game MVP performance, with Edmonton’s Connor McDavid second and Detroit’s Alex DeBrincat third. Matthews and the three Leafs on the team had DeBrincat’s hot hand to thank for them getting through to the final of the mini-tournament … Defenceman Morgan Rielly said it wouldn’t be hard to flip the switch back to rival mode with Isles’ Mathew Barzal and on Thursday against Dallas goalie Jake Oettinger after a few days of all-star schmoozing. “That’s part of it, but we’re looking forward to playing (for real) again” … Winger Noah Gregor was asked what warm-weather spot he headed to for the all-star break. “Alberta,” said the Edmonton-area native of its temperatures hovering at or below zero Celsius last week. “I was tempted to go south, but it (home) is God’s country.”
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