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With COVID-19 never far from the thoughts of all 31 teams and an NHL schedule that has many teams playing every second day, a cap-compliant, NHL-ready taxi squad is vital. Three games in, the Leafs lost rookie Nick Robertson for four weeks with a knee injury.
“This year, especially when the schedule is condensed and you have Covid-related things, I think your depth will definitely be tested,” Hyman said. “Fortunately, we have a ton of guys who can move up and down the lineup and fill in. It’s a big opportunity for guys on the main roster and guys on the taxi squad to seize the moment. I think you need everybody.”
The Leafs were still shaking their heads after Wednesday, when they succeeded almost too well bottling up Edmonton stars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, but weren’t aggressive enough on offence and puck control. A fluke own goal and a power play off a questionable penalty to Jake Muzzin put them behind and the OIlers checked hard to secure the series’ opener.
“I saw two teams that definitely locked it down defensively,” said Toronto goalie Frederik Anderson, who allowed two goals on 21 shots. “A couple of bounces, it could’ve gone the other way.”