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Leafs Defenseman Likely To Miss The Playoffs
BY JULIEN TREKKER MARCH 27, 2023 (12:09)
At that time, Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren were playing significant minutes for the Leafs. However, they ultimately made a significant move to obtain Jake McCabe from Chicago, sending Sandin to Washington and receiving depth defenseman Erik Gustafsson in return. They also added Luke Schenn for more depth. With nine capable defensemen available, coach Sheldon Keefe has been rotating players, including once cornerstone Morgan Rielly.
Liljegren To Sit Out The Playoffs?
Facing Tampa Bay in the playoffs for the second consecutive year will be a challenging task, considering the Bolts' playoff experience. Lately, Liljegren's performance has suggested that he may be relegated to the press box rather than securing a top-6 spot. Wayne Simmonds replaced him in the Leafs' recent 12/6 formation game against Nashville.
The 24-year-old former first-rounder has seen his ice time and performance metrics fluctuate throughout the season. In the ten games prior to his recent struggles, Liljegren averaged 19:30 TOI per game and exceeded 20 minutes in eight of those games. However, in his last two games, he only logged 11:39 and 10:52 of ice time.
Morgan Rielly, T.J. Brodie, Mark Giordano, and Jake McCabe will lead the defensive unit. Justin Holl often finds his way into the top-4, and Luke Schenn is anticipated to play a crucial role in the playoffs, given his experience, defensive prowess, and physical presence that has contributed to multiple Stanley Cup victories.
Liljegren's recent challenges should not be seen as a setback, as the moves made by Kyle Dubas aimed to strengthen the team's chances of advancing beyond the first round. Liljegren will remain a vital part of the Leafs' defense for years to come. However, as noted by TLN's Nick Richard, while he has made significant progress this season, his recent performance and increased competition have led to him potentially losing his spot in the playing lineup.
The abundance of defensemen is an asset, and Liljegren will be ready for larger responsibilities when needed, having demonstrated his capability. Nevertheless, it seems unlikely that he will be in the starting lineup for Game 1 against Tampa.
As seen on Maple Leafs Insider - Leafs defenseman unlikely to be in the playoff lineup
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