Bogosian ready to add 'a whole lot of nasty' to Leafs' Game 1 lineup

Wayne Simmonds talks about the physical boost the Toronto Maple Leafs will get when Zach Bogosian returns to the lineup.

TORONTO – The Toronto Maple Leafs are ready to add “a whole lot of nasty” into their lineup for Game 1 vs. the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday.

That, in a nutshell, is how Wayne Simmonds describes the benefit of inserting a healthy Zach Bogosian on the club’s blue line for what promises to be a physical playoff series.

“Bogo’s a big guy. He plays physical. He eats the puck when other team’s shooting it. He plays with a mean attitude, and he can make plays when need be too,” Simmonds said Wednesday.

“So, we're excited to have Bogo back… It just makes our team that much more tougher."

As a testament to the 30-year-old’s toughness, Bogosian needed only the minimum of the four-week recovery timeline he was given after losing his footing and sliding awkwardly into the boards in Vancouver last month. He suffered a shoulder injury, but was medically cleared to play this week.

A full participant in practice Wednesday, Bogosian took reps to the right of rookie Rasmus Sandin on the Leafs’ third pairing.

Bogosian's return now brings Toronto's roster to full health ahead of the playoffs.

“It's a nice addition for us,” said coach Sheldon Keefe, who appears poised to scratch Travis Dermott in Game 1. “Frankly, we were unsure if he was going to be available for this series, but credit to him for the work that he's put in to get himself ready.”

Bogosian, who hoisted the Stanley Cup with Tampa Bay in 2020, has four points in 44 contests for Toronto this season while averaging 14:40 of ice time. But the six-foot-two, 200-pound veteran is integral to the PK, boxes out well around the crease and throws more hits (6.14 per 60 minutes) than any other Toronto defenceman.

By replacing Dermott, Bogosian, a right shot, will also give the third pairing an ideal righty-lefty balance.

Mitch Marner describes Bogosian’s impact on the group as huge.

“He’s a big body that throws his weight around and makes sure he plays a hard game. And at the same time, he plays very smart with his positioning and puck movement and finding exits through our D-zone,” Marner said. “On the bench, he's always speaking. He’s a loud guy, and he makes sure everyone knows and hears him.

“He's communicating with the whole team and just keeping us going and keeping us upright like so many guys on this team. It's great to have him back out there and back buzzing with fellas.”

Maple Leafs projected Game 1 lineup




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