Sheldon Keefe explains Tyler Bertuzzi's absence to start last night's game

Ryan Smitheram
March 21, 2024  (10:47)

Tyler Bertuzzi gets himself set ahead of puck drop
Photo credit: NHL

The Toronto Maple Leafs flipped the script a night after falling to the Philadelphia Flyers as they scored less than 20 seconds into their 7-3 win over the Washington Capitals last night. Although they were up 1-0 early, fans were concerned when they saw Bobby McMann on the top line with Auston Matthews and Max Domi while Tyler Bertuzzi sat on the bench for almost half of the first period.

Bertuzzi ended up playing the rest of the game and scored midway through the third period. Following the game, Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe was asked about Bertuzzi missing his first few shifts of the game and revealed that Bertuzzi almost didn't play last night.
"It was a bit questionable if he was even going to play tonight. Just before warmup, he was saying he wasn't feeling right. He went through warmup, and he still wasn't quite feeling it, but he felt good enough to the point where he was going to stay in uniform. We didn't have any others in uniform tonight. The only other eligible player was Brodie, who we were giving a mental day away to anyhow. We decided to stick with Bert. He wanted some time when the game was going, getting out there with the noise and all of the things that go on in the chaos of the game just to make sure he was good. Once we got through the first TV timeout, he went out for a little skate and thought he was good to go. We put him in the mix."

Bertuzzi, along with Matthews and Domi, had an absolutely dominant night offensively. They combined for 3 goals and 10 points. McMann, who started the game on the top line due to Bertuzzi not feeling well, also revealed post-game that he did not know he was starting until Keefe revealed the starting lineup moments before the game.
With Mitch Marner's return still up in the air, it sounds like Keefe will keep the trio of Bertuzzi-Matthews-Domi together for the time-being as he was thoroughly impressed with their efforts judging by his post-game comments.
21 MARS   |   581 ANSWERS
Sheldon Keefe explains Tyler Bertuzzi's absence to start last night's game

Should Keefe keep the Domi-Matthews-Bertuzzi line together when Marner returns?

Definitely26345.3 %
Maybe, the sample size is still too small18431.7 %
No, go back to Mitchy and Auston13423.1 %
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