Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe
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Sheldon Keefe Considering Major Lineup Changes For Toronto Maple Leafs In Second Half Of The Season

Published January 12, 2024 at 8:02 PM

As most NHL teams surpass the halfway mark of the season in terms of games played, the playoff picture is starting to become a bit more clear. One thing that remains uncertain though is how teams will approach the second half of the season as playoff contenders look to prepare for a long stretch run without wearing out their top players.

Keefe Considering Changes In Roster Management In Second Half

The Toronto Maple Leafs have always been one of the teams that relies on their top players more than most. William Nylander has averaged over 20 minutes of ice time this season while Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner are both averaging over 21 minutes a night. That is quite a lot of ice time for forwards. This strategy was worked so far as all three players have played well enough to earn that ice time.

That being said, the Leafs have not found much success in the playoffs in recent years. One reason for this could be due to how much Keefe has relied on his top players in the regular season. As a result, they are more worn down than other team's top players going into the playoffs.

Leafs Head Coach Sheldon Keefe Trusting Depth Players More

Keefe seems to be aware of this as he has given his bottom-six more opportunities in terms of ice time in the last couple of games. The head coach's trust in those players continues to grow as they perform well.

"No doubt. The Kampf line again tonight was really good. It is a tough night for that group. For them and Domi, the matchups are going to be tough. They matched their fourth line against Matthews the entire night. That is going to create some tough matchups for the rest of our lineup when our best people are going up against other lines."

last night's game against the islanders could give Keefe some ideas as his top players were matched up against the Islander's fourth line for most of the night. As his trust continues to grow in his own bottom six, perhaps he will experiment with different matchups going forward. This could take some of the pressure of Matthews and the rest of the core players, at least in terms of the physical toll playing 20+ minutes a night takes on their bodies.

As seen on Leafs confirmed to be considering an important change in the second half of the season
January 12   |   746 answers
Sheldon Keefe Considering Major Lineup Changes For Toronto Maple Leafs In Second Half Of The Season

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