Keefe explains wild new line changes

Published January 24, 2022 at 3:20 PM
BY MIKE ARMENTI
More than a few eyebrows were raised at Leafs practice on Monday, when Matthews, Marner and Nylander all took rushes on separate lines, indicating that head coach Sheldon Keefe has plans of shuffling the deck ahead of Wednesday's matchup with the Anaheim Ducks.

With Ondrej Kase returning from COVID protocol for the forward group, it was originally anticipated that he would reprise his roll on the third line, but the relentless Czech winger found himself taking line rushes with Auston Matthews and Michael Bunting on Monday, with Mitch Marner sliding down to the 2nd line on John Tavares' wing with the red hot Ilya Mikheyev playing the opposite flank.

William Nylander not playing on either of the top two lines was the detail that shocked those in attendance and those in the social mediaverse. When word of Nylander's apparent demotion got out, it sent Leafs Nation into a bit of a frenzy. However, Keefe addressed the move after practice in an attempt to calm people's nerves.

"There's no demotion for anybody," Keefe told the media following practice. "Something I've been wanting to get a look at for quite some time. I like the ability to have lots of options."


While Keefe certainly said all the right things, it was Nylander's opinion that most were interested in hearing. Surprisingly, Nylander appeared fine with the decision, understanding that dispersing the talent across three lines could create fits for the opposition.

"It's a good way to spread out the guys," Nylander said of the move.

There is something to having 3 lines who can bury the opposition at any time. We saw it in Pittsburgh when Crosby, Malkin and Kessel manned separate lines, and there's no doubt that Matthews, Marner and Nylander possess the talent to drive their own lines. It will be interesting to see how long this experiment lasts and what he results end up looking like.



Latest 10 stories
LEADERS
GPGAPTS
1-  NIKITA KUCHEROV
613866104
2-  NATHAN MACKINNON
613664100
3-  CONNOR MCDAVID
55227294
4-  DAVID PASTRNAK
61384987
5-  WILLIAM NYLANDER
59325082
6-  ARTEMI PANARIN
60354782
7-  J.T. MILLER
62305282
8-  AUSTON MATTHEWS
58532578
9-  MIKKO RANTANEN
61314677
10-  ELIAS PETTERSSON
62294675
2023-2024 LEADERS  
FOLLOW US
facebookinstagram
253 580 followers