When talking about chocolate and candy, there is no wrong answer, but one is objectively better than the other. That is how many see the arrangement of Matthews, Tavares, Marner and Nylander in the Leafs top six. Sure, Matthews and Marner are great together, but there are serious benefits to putting Nylander with Matthews, and almost more importantly putting Marner with Tavares.
After our briefest of glimpses of the swapped forward arrangement against the Hurricanes when the Leafs were getting completely destroyed in possession, we saw that the Leafs could play a different style of game. Matthews and Nylander thrived off the rush, scoring a goal, while Tavares and Marner helped stem the shots against by winning battles and revitalizing Nick Robertson with free space for him to roam in.
This is the crux of the argument, Marner gets to play with the centre that most benefits from his playmaking, not Matthews, Tavares. Matthews gets chances regardless of who’s with him, his offense in fact increases next to Nylander thanks to the highly-fruitful rush offense and quick direct chances Willy brings. As a more complex player, Marner is slower than Nylander in the offensive zone, lending himself better to Tavares’ style with high-low plays. We see on the power play what openings Nylander can create with his shot threat, and we saw it for a full season when he and Matthews were rookies. It’s worth doing.
And all of this works to the benefit of the other wingers, namely Nick Robertson becoming a second shooting threat for Marner to find rather than getting somewhat in the way of Nylander and Tavares. And for Alex Kerfoot to take on defensive responsibilities and facilitate the puck up for Matthews and Nylander, rather than Matthews doing it for Marner and Bunting. And for Bunting, should the Leafs want to do it, he can become a ratty anchor for a pissy checking third line with Järnkrok and probably someone more annoying (for the other team) than Engvall.
It just makes sense. And Sheldon Keefe only does it when someone is injured or the team is losing. But I would argue it’s better even when the team is winning. But we all know what the problem is. Matthews and Marner like each other and the old coach got fired for doing this, therefore the new coach will never do it. I think it’s the wrong decision and the two stars need to get over themselves and realize playing with our season MVP (Tavares) and an excellent hockey player (Nylander) isn’t hurting them. They’re already not playing with Bunting, who’s on the third line now.
Doesn’t it just make sense?
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It Just Makes Sense!
You sound like a cult leader, Hardev.
Various Leafs and Branches
The story behind the Maple Leafs’ new player-of-the-game belt | from: Sportsnet
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You got this, Rodion. We believe in you. You can win this fight, and we can’t wait to witness your NHL debut in the near future. Go Rodion Go!
As the Leafs goaltending depth gets ever thinner, the Growlers have brought in some extra help. All three organizational teams have back-to-backs on Friday and Saturday.
Way too little, way too late, Boston.
Joni Meyer-Crothers said that Cam Neely reached out to her, as he said he would. She said that he apologized and they had a nice 45 minute conversation— steve conroy (@conroyherald) November 8, 2022