Leafs D needs some work
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The Leafs' worst D pairing last night has been identified and it may shock you

Published February 28, 2024 at 11:25

Once upon a time, the pairing of Morgan Rielly and T.J. Brodie worked well for the Toronto Maple Leafs. For whatever reason, though, this season has been an unmitigated disaster when the two have been paired with one another, which has resulted in Sheldon Keefe, Mike Van Ryn and the coaching staff splitting them up this year.

During the Rielly suspension, the Leafs played better defensively than they have all season long, which is partially due to the messaging from the coaching staff to just keep things simple and get pucks out safely instead of attempting to fill Rielly's shoes and doing too much. It also gave the coaching staff some time to ponder some different looks on the blueline.

Brodie has played with a variety of different partners this season at various points, including Rielly, Jake McCabe and Timothy Liljegren. His best results, from a defensive standpoint, have come playing alongside Liljegren and it's not close. Meanwhile, Simon Benoit and Jake McCabe have formed a pretty solid, physical, shutdown pair. Rielly has seen time with Brodie, Benoit and Liljegren and Lagesson this season as well, experiencing mixed results across the board. However, when he was reunited with Brodie last night due to Timothy Liljegren's injury, it highlighted something very important - those two need to be split up permanently.

Rielly and Brodie's play was disastrous, bordering on the worst performance by a Leafs pair this season - and I'm not overselling it. They were the two worst Leafs last night by a pretty large margin.

Ultimately, with the trade deadline now just over 1 week away, it's likely that we see Brad Treliving pull the trigger on a deal for a right-shot defenseman to play with Rielly. There's also really no reason why Keefe would reunite Rielly and Brodie at any point going forward, because we know that it doesn't work this season.

Of the things we do know, it's that Brodie-Liljegren works. We also know that Benoit-McCabe works. Unfortunately for Rielly, this likely means playing with William Lagesson, Mark Giordano, Conor Timmins, Max Lajoie or Marshall Rifai for a few games until the Leafs find him a right-shot D partner before March 8th.
February 28   |   724 answers
The Leafs' worst D pairing last night has been identified and it may shock you

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