Timothy Liljegren and Rasmus Sandin stepping up in a big way for the Leafs in a time of need; Here's how good they've been

Dean Chaudhry
November 25, 2022  (10:12)

With injuries continuing to mount on the back end for the Toronto Maple Leafs, they needed in-house options to step up and take the wheel as they try to steady the ship from a so-so start. Yes, the team is 11-5-5, but they haven't been near as dominant as they were expected to be in the first quarter of the season. However, having said that, they have rebounded nicely with a strong November.

We all remember when the sky was falling after the Maple Leafs started the season out 4-4-2. They had just endured a very rough western road-trip, the injuries back then were affecting the goaltending, and the offense had gone cold as ice. Then they defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 5-2 on home ice and haven't looked back since as they have gone 7-1-3 in the month of November.
As the goaltending has started to get healthy, the defense have been falling like flies as the Leafs have now lost Jake Muzzin, Morgan Rielly, T.J Brodie and Jordie Benn. With not many in-house options to choose from the Maple Leafs have had to roll with a mix of inexperienced and very experienced defensemen.
Mark Giordano and Justin Holl make up the first pair, Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren constitute the second pair and, before his injury, Jordie Benn and Mac Hollowell rounded out the main 6. As expected, Giordano and Holl have taken on the bulk of the minutes as they most recently played 24:43 and 25:03 respectively in their game last night against the New Jersey Devils.
Nevertheless, the second pairing of Sandin and Liljegren have been even better than advertised, especially over the last few games. At 5-on-5 they have been on the ice for 27 shot attempts to 14 against, 3 goals for to 1 goal against, 68% xGF, 15 scoring chances for to 7 against, and 7 high danger chances for to 3 against - versus the Devils and the New York Islanders no less.
The former first round picks are starting to round out and find their form and it's exactly what the Maple Leafs needed out of them in a time of despair. Only good things will come out of this exposure for the two young Buds. They'll be playing heavy minutes and they're already yielding positive results. When Rielly and Brodie do return, the Leafs will have a good problem to deal with in terms of spreading the wealth around.
Timothy Liljegren and Rasmus Sandin stepping up in a big way for the Leafs in a time of need; Here's how good they've been

Will Sandin and Liljegren prove themselves as capable top-4 defensemen this season?

Yes12268.9 %
No2413.6 %
They'll get there eventully, but they're not ready3117.5 %
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