The Toronto Maple Leafs are not going to make an adjustment to what’s been working for the team of late. Even though Michael Bunting is now eligible to play following a three-game suspension, the Maple Leafs will continue to roll without him on the ice, at least in this coming Thursday’s Game 5 at home versus the Tampa Bay Lightning, according to head coach Sheldon Keefe
“We’re just comfortable with the group that’s been working here and won three games in a row,” Keefe said about the team’s lineup for Game 5 with regards to the return of Michael Bunting (h/t Kristen Shilton of ESPN) . “That’s it. And it’s chemistry with the rest of the group. It makes it not an easy decision because Bunts has played really good hockey for us and is an important guy for our team. He will get back in; it’s just not going to be tomorrow.”
Bunting was suspended elbowing Lightning defenseman Eric Cernak in the series opener, which the Maple Leafs lost to the tune of a 7-3 score at home. It was the first time he’s been suspended in his career in the NHL.
In Bunting’s lieu, Keefe put Matthew Knies on the third line, with the rookie repaying the trust in him with some solid play on the ice. In Game 3, he had an assist and finished with a plus-2 in a 4-3 victory via overtime.
The 27-year-old Michael Bunting finished the 2022-23 NHL regular season with 23 goals and 26 assists along with a plus-21 across 82 games played.
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