Counting on a full offensive roster for the first time this season, Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe has completely overhauled his roster to distribute talent and give opposing teams.
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Thus, Auston Matthews will evolve in the center of Michael Bunting and Ondrej Kase. His usual partner, Mitch Marner, joins John Tavares and Ilya Mikheyev.
These changes had been on Keefe’s mind for a while, but he preferred to wait for all the attackers to return to make them. He therefore waited 39 games before setting up a new strategy.
“It’s about having [Auston] Matthews, [Mitch] marner and [William] Nylander on three separate combinations, he explained, according to comments reported by the Sportsnet network. How will the opposition deal with this?”
By this shuffling of cards, it is Nylander who joins what seems to be the third unit, in the company of David Kampf and Alexander Kerfoot. But Keefe made sure to chat with his forward to let him know that this was not a demotion at all.
Thus, the Finn should maintain a similar playing time, he who spends an average of 19 min 24 s on the ice.
“I just like the ability to have a lot of options,” Keefe said. Minutes are mine, and that was my message to Will. There is no downgrade here for anyone. It is about distributing [le talent] in our training, and that’s something we haven’t really done since I’ve been here.”
“With Willy playing as well as he has since the start of the season, and then with offensive threats on the other two lines, I see that as challenges for our opponents. I’m curious to see how it’s going to go.”
However, the Ontario team has scored 41 goals in its last 10 games, posting a 7-2-1 record at the end of this sequence. But the contribution of several other players gives the pilot leeway to try – and evaluate – things.
«[La contribution de tous] gives me the confidence to be able to watch different things like this,” he said.
The Maple Leafs host the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday in Toronto.