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Matthews, Marner, Campbell scratched against Bruins

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The stars won’t be out for the Maple Leafs’ last game as the club looks ahead to the start of playoffs.

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Coach Sheldon Keefe said Thursday after practice that forwards Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, starting goalie Jack Campbell and possibly captain John Tavares would be rested for Friday’s home contest against Boston. The Leafs are already secure with home ice advantage against either the Tampa Bay Lightning or the Bruins.

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Risk of injury to the NHL’s leading goal scorer Matthews, who has 60, or the chance to get linemate Marner his first 100-point season (he’s three short) were all on Keefe’s mind.

“I get feedback from the medical team, the performance team, but the most important thing is to have a conversation with the players,” Keefe said. “Give them our perspective, not so much about the upcoming game but how they’re feeling about their game and do they need to play one more. It’s really about Monday.”

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Matthews will end with 60, attained Tuesday with two goals versus Detroit, but Marner will have to be content with his own career-best 97 points.

“We have a pretty good awareness of how this year has been and how hard obviously on everyone’s body,” Marner said. “We all discussed that we thought it’s best to need a rest and do the right stuff until the real thing starts.

“It’s definitely tough (to miss a run at 100) but I want to make sure we’re ready to go to start the playoffs.”

Tavares was given a “maintenance day” on Thursday and Keefe said a final determination on the Boston lineup will be made Friday morning, with salary cap also a consideration. Injured forwards Michael Bunting, Ondrej Kase and defenceman Rasmus Sandin are not playing Friday, though all three are practising. Rookie Nick Abruzzese likely gets back in, with recalls to the Marlies for Nick Robertson or another forward.

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Justin Holl was the seventh defenceman in Thursday’s practice. Erik Kallgren starts in goal, though Campbell will dress as back up. The Leafs will have one other full workout before Monday.

Keefe was anxious to finally know his opponent, though all signs point to the Lightning and it could be official by late Thursday.

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“It’s never easy at this point of the season, starting Monday and you don’t know. It’s a high probability it’s going to be Tampa, but Boston is right there. It’s a bit easier we’re playing Boston tomorrow and we played Tampa twice recently.”

Alex Kerfoot, who will play left wing with Matthews and Marner if Bunting can’t go Monday, said different players have different feelings on sitting the last regular season game, but if he’s in, he’s not thinking of a possible mishap.

“I’m not changing the way I play at all. It doesn’t matter what time of the season it is. Injuries are part of the game, a kind of crazy, fluke thing that can come at any time. The more you start thinking about it, the mentality can get you in trouble.

“It would be unlucky, but you can also get injured in the first game of the playoffs.”

Keefe said that when Tavares does playa again, he’s leaning towards reuniting him with William Nylander on his right side.

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