Breaking: Babcock names his starting goalie for tonight’s game

Another game for Big Mac or is Freddie ready?

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According to a report from TSN’s Mark Masters, Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen will return from his upper body injury tonight and get the start against the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning.

This should really come as a surprise given that youngster Garret Sparks was re-assigned to the AHL’s Toronto Marlies yesterday morning. Leafs backup Curtis McElhinney has been outstanding in Andersen’s absence and even earned Third Star honours from the NHL yesterday from his work last week.

In any case, it’s a positive development for the Leafs and for Andersen. In 58 games this season, the 28 year old Andersen has a 33-18-5 record and has posted a 2.79 goals against average and .919 save percentage.

Report: Leafs pump the brakes on Matthews’ return

Conflicting reports on the young superstar’s return confuse fans and media yesterday.

Yesterday afternoon Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock deemed injured superstar Auston Matthews ready to return to action saying, “I think he’s playing right away.” Later in the afternoon Babcock had to walk back that statement and officially ruled Matthews out for this evening’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

And according to a report from Sportsnet’s Luke Fox, the 20 year old Matthews is growing a little impatient sitting on the injured reserve. Directly from Fox’s report last night:

“Boring” is the adjective Matthews used to briskly sum up the past 26 days of his life, as he endures the third and longest break from action in this sophomore season.
Watch the 20-year-old’s mannerisms and listen to his answers Monday as he addressed local reporters after participating in a full-contact practice, then tell us this guy isn’t frustrated.

“I’m just trying to get back and play hockey,” says Matthews when asked when exactly he’ll return.

The Leafs have two HUGE tests coming up this week, first tonight against Tampa and then on Thursday against the Nashville Predators. Both the Lightning and the Preds lead their respective conferences, so the two games could act as an effective way for the Leafs to currently gauge where they rank in the NHL’s hierarchy. 

Knowing where you stand, your strengths and weaknesses, is important for a team headed down the stretch and into the playoffs. The only thing more important? Health. The Leafs are hoping for that to improve down the stretch, as well.