Auston Matthews and William Nylander
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Leafs to make significant change for Monday's game against St. Louis

Published February 19, 2024 at 10:14

On Saturday night against the Anaheim Ducks, the Toronto Maple Leafs were forced to play without their captain John Tavares, leaving a pretty big hole to fill on the 2nd line. It forced head coach Sheldon Keefe to move Max Domi up to 2C and add Tyler Bertuzzi to the first powerplay unit.

Moving Bertuzzi to the first powerplay unit paid immediate dividends for the Leafs as they ended up going 4 for 5 with the man advantage and Bertuzzi even snapped his 19-game goalless drought early in the second period. With Tavares returning to practice on Sunday, and Morgan Rielly still awaiting word on his suspension appeal, Keefe decided to unveil a significant change to the top powerplay unit.

Instead of replacing Bertuzzi with Tavares, Keefe rolled out a five-forward first PP unit. Whether we see the unit together during tomorrow's game against St. Louis remains to be seen as they had a number of players take maintenance days, including Timothy Liljegren and Jake McCabe. However, it would be smart of Keefe to keep Bertuzzi on the top unit given its success against Anaheim and how his net-front presence is more aggressive and agitating than Tavares.

The other factor here is that Mitch Marner played shockingly well on defense on Saturday night. If the Leafs position Marner on the back end for the top powerplay unit, it will be as if they are rolling one defenseman on that line. Marner doesn't have a big, booming shot, but he can distribute the puck extremely well, making him a solid option to quarterback the top powerplay unit.

February 19   |   539 answers
Leafs to make significant change for Monday's game against St. Louis

Should Keefe be more willing to break up the top powerplay unit and balance his two units instead?

Yes, spread the talent out37168.8 %
No, things work fine16831.2 %
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