- The Washington Times - Friday, April 14, 2017

The Toronto Maple Leafs will likely go another game without Nikita Zaitsev, one of their most valuable defensemen.

Zaitsev suffered an upper-body injury in Toronto’s final regular-season game and missed Game 1 Thursday. Leafs coach Mike Babcock hoped Zaitsev could skate Friday but, after he didn’t, Babcock said he doesn’t think Zatisev will play Saturday.

“I don’t expect him back. He didn’t go on the ice today,” Babcock said.

Until Zaitsev is ready to return, Connor Carrick will continue to play on the blue line for Toronto. Carrick was on the ice for 14:05 Thursday.

It’s something that this time of year injuries are going to affect certain spots in your lineup. Zaits is an important part for us, but we have to try to fill the void as best we can,” Carrick said Thursday.

The Leafs will likely feel the difference. Zaitsev played in every regular-season game and averaged 22:01 in ice time when healthy, including with Toronto’s power play and penalty kill units.

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