Sheldon Keefe May Have Found His Top Defense Pairing For Playoffs And Morgan Rielly Is Demoted

Published March 27, 2023 at 6:36 PM

The Toronto Maple Leafs have recently found success in a new defensive pairing, as Jake McCabe, acquired from Chicago, has stepped up and taken Morgan Rielly's spot alongside T.J. Brodie. This decision by coach Sheldon Keefe has garnered mixed reactions, with some fans questioning Rielly's demotion from the first pair.

In just 13 games since joining the Leafs, McCabe has impressed with a 52.55% corsi for percentage and a second-lowest expected goals against of 10.05 at 5-on-5. His expected goals for of 10.33 also tops any Leafs defender during that period, leading the next closest by over 2 expected goals for.

Keefe's choice to pair McCabe with Brodie has allowed Rielly to play more sheltered minutes against lesser competition, a strategy that seems to be working for now. The McCabe-Brodie duo has dominated their ice time together, winning the Leafs' 5-on-5 minutes by expected goals in each of their last five games.

McCabe Took Rielly's Spot!


It's clear that McCabe's addition has injected a fresh dynamic into the Leafs' defensive lineup. As he grows increasingly comfortable in his new team, his impact on the ice becomes more evident, making the case for his top-pairing spot even stronger.

Meanwhile, Rielly's adjustment to a more sheltered role may provide him with an opportunity to refine his game and explore new ways to contribute to the team's success.

While it is still early in this new defensive arrangement, the Leafs' recent victories and the solid performance of the McCabe-Brodie pairing cannot be ignored.

As seen on Maple Leafs Insider - Leafs may have found their top defensive pairing for playoffs and it doesn't include Morgan Rielly
March 27   |   557 answers
Sheldon Keefe May Have Found His Top Defense Pairing For Playoffs And Morgan Rielly Is Demoted

Who is better?

McCabe28751.5 %
Rielly27048.5 %
Latest 10 stories