Rielly’s absence, Marner’s departure from practice shouldn’t create many problems for the booming Leafs

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When life is going as well as it is for the Maple Leafs, anything that approaches adversity can be ignored without more than a second thought.

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That’s what happened on Friday for the Leafs, who have won 15 of their last 17 games and five in a row before a weekend getaway with stops in Minnesota and Winnipeg.

Before heading to St. Paul, Minnesota, to take on the Wild, who also happens to be on a five-game winning streak, the Leafs got to work at the Ford Performance Center after a full day off.

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Defenseman Morgan Rielly was nowhere to be found and Mitch Marner left after colliding with Jake Muzzin. None of these developments apparently had coach Sheldon Keefe in the grip of concern as the club flew west.

Rielly and Marner are expected to be in the lineup on Saturday night when the Leafs meet the Wild, starting a two-game trip that ends Sunday in Winnipeg against the Jets.

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Rielly was feeling the effects of a blocked shot during the Leafs’ recent trip to California.

“It’s been working a bit the last few days so they sent him off for pictures rather than training today but everything came back negative,” Keefe said. “He will be traveling with us, they will continue to manage him, I expect him to play.

“It was a little surprising because he had played it, but it worked to the point that they wanted to know more.”

The Marner incident was a little more unusual.

The Leafs’ top winger stayed on the ice for a few minutes after the bump with Muzzin, and the two argued on the Leafs bench before going their separate ways. No teammate had to intervene.

“Especially these two guys, I don’t care at all about that stuff,” Keefe said of the argument. “There are things going on there, whether it’s training, games, whatever. Our team is very close and this stuff will be shaken up pretty quickly. “

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Keefe said Marner left for precautionary reasons.

“We’ll see how he’s doing in the morning,” Keefe said. “It doesn’t sound like anything serious at this point. He will travel and prepare to play.

In case Marner couldn’t make it, either one of Joey Anderson or Kyle Clifford would step down. The two were extras on Friday.

Ondrej Kase, who missed the last three games with an upper body injury, was back with his regular teammates David Kampf and Pierre Engvall. Ilya Mikheyev took part in training as he returned from a thumb injury, and goalkeeper Joseph Woll trained and looked like it would be good to start this weekend after being absent on Wednesday against Colorado with stiffness.

With Rielly absent and controlled, it gave Keefe the opportunity to move Rasmus Sandin to skate alongside TJ Brodie. Keefe also had Sandin anchor Power Play Unit # 1.

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There have been a lot of things to love about Sandin’s game this season, and the 21-year-old has said playing every game has been key. While Keefe rotated on the blue line, Sandin was only absent once, Nov. 13 in Buffalo.

“I just feel comfortable coming in every night,” Sandin said. “You grow as a player when you get that belief from the staff and your teammates. It helps to play every game, you don’t go out of rhythm and speed of the game. It sure helps. “

Sandin’s puck handling skills and decision-making skills have helped him stay on the roster, even though Keefe knows he has options.

“He’s still like the other guys – he’s competing for his place and for his ice time and he has to continue to stay on top,” Keefe said. “We believe in him and he played really well for us, but – like (Timothy) Liljegren and (Travis) Dermott and (Justin) Holl – they have to be at their best every day. This is the biggest challenge in the NHL.

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