John Tavares skates with Maple Leafs who lose defenseman Jake Muzzin for three weeks

Jake Muzzin injured
Feb 20, 2020; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs forward John Tavares (91) and forward Denis Malgin (62) and defenseman Justin Holl (3) and forward William Nylander (88) celebrate a goal by defenseman Jake Muzzin (8) against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the second period at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Maple Leafs will meet the Montreal Canadiens in the decisive Game 7 of their first-round Stanley Cup playoffs series Monday night without captain John Tavares and defenseman Jake Muzzin.

John Tavares skates with Maple Leafs; Jake Muzzin injured

Coach Sheldon Keefe said Monday that while Tavares took part in an optional morning skate, he isn’t ready to return from the concussion and knee injury he sustained in Game 1 of the series. And a lower-body injury that Muzzin suffered in the second period of Game 6 on Saturday will keep him off the ice as well.

The visual of seeing Tavares skating around the ice may provide a spark Toronto could sure use tonight against the Habs. If the Leafs blow a 3-1 series lead, I firmly believe that serious changes could be coming and it may start with GM, Kyle Dubas.

Should the Leafs advance to face the Winnipeg Jets in the second round, Muzzin will miss the series. Sheldon Keefe announced today that he will be sidelined at least three weeks. This is a huge loss as Muzzin is one of the only Toronto blue-liners that plays a physical in-your-face style.

Muzzin, 32, is a veteran of 65 playoff games, including six this season. He tallied two goals and one assist in the series against the Canadiens. In 53 regular-season games, he scored 27 points (four goals, 23 assists).

Tavares, 30, was playing in his 37th career playoff game and his 13th since signing a free-agent contract with Toronto prior to the 2018-19 season when he was injured. He recorded 50 points (19 goals, 31 assists) over 56 games during the regular season.

Game 7 will be played in Toronto. The Maple Leafs had a 3-1 series lead, but the Canadiens won the next two to knot the series at 3-3.

Tavares injury hurt Maple Leafs chances

john tavares injury
May 20, 2021; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs forward John Tavares (91) his hit by Montreal Canadiens forward Corey Perry (94) after falling during the first period of game one of the first round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

John Tavares skated on May 27th for the first time after the injury. It was a lift to his teammates’ spirits, and they will need it again tonight. “It’s huge obviously to have him back at the rink here today,” defenseman Morgan Rielly said after seeing Tavares on ice that first time. The Leafs captain has been keeping touch with his teammates throughout via text, and has been in attendance at games.

The Toronto Maple Leafs revealed that John Tavares suffered a knee injury as well as a concussion. There is no firm timetable for his return. Good news was that CT scans conducted revealed no structural damage to his head, neck, and spine.

If the Leafs want to see their captain play in another game this season, they will need to play at top speed for a full 60 minutes. The Habs and Carey Price are prime to pull off the upset if they don’t. Should they do so, many will point to the loss of Tavares as a key factor.

–Field Level Media contributed to the first half of this article