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Zach Hyman returning to Maple Leafs lineup against Flames

Zach Hyman #11 of the Toronto Maple Leafs controls the puck against the Ottawa Senators at Scotiabank Arena on February 15, 2021 in Toronto.
Zach Hyman #11 of the Toronto Maple Leafs controls the puck against the Ottawa Senators at Scotiabank Arena on February 15, 2021 in Toronto.

The Maple Leafs will get one reinforcement on Wednesday night.

And more are on the way.

Winger Zach Hyman will return to the lineup against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Arena, coach Sheldon Keefe said, and will play on the top line with Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner.

After blocking a shot in Montreal against the Canadiens on Saturday, Hyman did not play in the Leafs’ 3-0 loss to Calgary on Monday.

Nic Petan will come out of the lineup as a result of Hyman’s participation. Keefe said that would be the lone change.

The Leafs still won’t have goaltender Frederik Andersen (lower body), defenceman Jake Muzzin (face) or forward Joe Thornton (lower body).

There is a positive outlook regarding the status of Andersen and backup goalie Jack Campbell. The latter has been out since Jan. 24 with a lower-body injury, but has looked sharp in recent practices.

Michael Hutchinson will start in goal against the Flames on Wednesday. The Leafs’ next game will be on Saturday in Edmonton against the Oilers to begin a five-game trip.

“Our goaltending situation with both (Campbell) and Fred is both are day to day,” Keefe said. “We’re trending toward (Campbell) being available on this road trip. As to when he’d be available or when we would choose to use him, haven’t made any decisions. But he’s progressing well. (Tuesday) was an important day for him and he got through it well.”

Is there concern regarding Andersen, who will miss his second game in a row?

“It doesn’t look that way,” Keefe said. “From what I’m told, he’s progressing well. We’ve had to go through the last little bit without two of our goalies, so that is concerning, but I think we’re coming out on the other side of it here soon.”

Despite the loss on Monday — the first time the Leafs were shut out since last March 5 — Toronto remains a confident group, as it should. The Leafs’ record of 14-4-2 for 30 points has propelled them to the top of the National Hockey League standings; in second with 26 points each are the Oilers and the Florida Panthers.

One area of improvement for the Leafs has come in its defensive play, and for Morgan Rielly, one reason is in the increased communication among the five-man units on the ice.

“That’s an area of the game we spent a lot of time talking about, both myself personally with the coaching staff and as a defence corps, as an area that we needed to get better at,” Rielly said. “We spent a lot of time on that during training camp, talking about different ways that we’re able to do that, whether it was with our goalies playing the puck a little bit more, with different plays that we can make to each other to create other options.

“That was definitely an area that when I look back at last year, there was room for improvement. We’ve made strides, but I think there’s room for us to get better.”

Keefe was asked about the firing on Wednesday of coach Claude Julien in Montreal. The Canadiens let Julien and associate coach Kirk Muller go and appointed Dominique Ducharme as the interim head coach.

“I haven’t had a lot of time to really process it,” Keefe said. “Any time a coach loses his job, it’s tough. I’m new to this business and you’re sensitive to those kind of things, for sure.

“It’s a team in our division that we’re going to be competing lots against. It’s an unfortunate thing to think about from a coaching perspective.”

The Leafs and Canadiens don’t meet again until April 7.

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Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2021

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