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Lineup changes as James van Riemsdyk is not at practice

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Josh Leivo draws in, but not as a direct placeholder, which might mean bad news for tomorrow’s game.

NHL: Los Angeles Kings at Toronto Maple Leafs
This isn’t even the likely source of injury, but it looks uncomfortable.
John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

In Monday’s Maple Leafs game against the Kings, James van Riemsdyk was seemingly hurt on this play:

He went down the tunnel for a very brief period of time, and then returned to the bench. He played the rest of the game, and didn’t look hurt to the casual viewer.

Ray Ferraro was right there on the bench, however.

Generally Mike Babcock puts a placeholder in for players out for maintenance days. Instead he rearranged the lineup:

And yes, that’s Eric Fehr still practicing with the team after clearing waivers.

Taking the trouble to move Connor Brown to his off-wing, seems to me to be about not demoting him back to the fourth line when he’s been playing well. Mitch Marner has also been playing well. The result, though, is second line of all lefties and a third line of all righties.

So why not take that lineup and swap Brown and Leo Komarov? We’ve seen Brown play with Nazem Kadri. It should work out.

The other half of that, Komarov with Tyler Bozak and Marner is likely the reason why it isn’t happening even as it’s an idea that appeals to people, and it’s an interesting intellectual exercise: Would Komarov successfully offset Bozak’s defensive weaknesses?

I think the reason we aren’t seeing that is because Komarov is not fast on the transition, and Bozak and Marner are. Having your forechecker trailing the play isn’t very useful. Once in the offensive zone, Komarov’s strength is as a net-front player, but in a very different way to van Riemsdyk. With the pass-first Bozak and the pass-often Marner on the line, who is taking the passes? There’s a list of three left-side defenders who can all pitch in (or should that be pinch in) but is that what you want with Bozak or Marner to cycle in to cover them?

If this scheme hold up for the game on Thursday, we’ll get to see how well Brown does at the job Komarov seems not quite right for.

And if that is true, and not a little mind game for Bill Peters as he comes into town and needs to formulate a pan of attack, then we all got to have a fun what if exercise for a day.

We’ll have more on the Fehr situation later on today.