Published On: Sat, Apr 21st, 2018

PREGAME: Facing elimination, Maple Leafs roll out new lines

With Patrice Bergeron anticipated to play for the Boston Bruins and facing elimination, Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock rolled out new line combinations in Saturday’s morning skate.

The new lines reflect the Leafs struggling to score, and respect they have for Boston’s top line of Bergeron between David Pasternak and Brad Marchand.

Zach Hyman-Auston Matthews-Connor Brown

Patrick Marleau-Nazem Kadri-Mitch Marner

James van Riemsdyk-Tyler Bozak-Kasperi Kapanen

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Andreas Johnsson-Tomas Plekanec-William Nylander

“We’ll see how guys are going in the first five minutes and go from there,” said Babcock. “The bottom line is, it wasn’t going. We’ve got to change something and get it going.

“The priority tonight is the first 10 minutes, no question. They come home here and jump pretty good in their building.”

Babcock figures the Bruins will still play their top unit against Matthews, and hopes the addition of Brown over Nylander will help the Leafs defensive side.

Meanwhile, moving Nylander to the fourth line isn’t so much a demotion as it is a chance to spring Nylander loose by getting him away from defenceman Zdeno Chara.

“I think it’s good,” said Nylander. “We haven’t produced they way we wanted to. It’s a good change.”

KOMAROV READY: Leo Komarov participated in full at the morning skate, though not with the top four lines. Komarov hurt his left knee in Game 2 but says he’s ready.

“It was an unlucky hit,” said Komarov. “But I feel good. Maybe I jump in tonight, you never know.”

GOT A QUESTION? Email me at askkevinmcgran@gmail.com and I’ll answer it in Friday’s mailbag.

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HAVE YOUR SAY

COMMENT: Toronto Maple Leaf flag outside today in Houston, Texas. Go Leafs Go!! Five years ago, defence was Phaneuf. Oh, they also had Cody Franson (where is he now?), Gunnarsson, JM Liles, fringe players Mike Kostka & Mark Fraser, waiver pick up Ryan O’Byrne, and Gardiner called up from the Marlies. Down 3-1 games, that defence got to Game 7. Boston’s core is the same tonight as it was then. Keep improved Gardiner for sure, but which D would you rather have, then or now? Plus this year, add Kadri, Matthews, Marner, Nylander, Hyman, Freddie, the others … big improvement. Use that series back then to take that “setback as a set up for a comeback.” Realize that their chances are better now, by far. Just ask Gardiner.

Colorado won last night over powerful Nashville in Nashville to make it 3-2; back to Colorado.

Roman C., Houston, Texas.

PS … I hope Babcock tries Kadri with Johnsson and Kapanen. Kap got 2 playoff goals with Brian Boyle last year, Nazem’s better. But maybe no time to experiment now.

RESPONSE: Great Stuff Roman. I like Kadri between Johnsson and Kapanen, too. Babcock has options. Personally, I never minded Dion Phaneuf. But I think of the group that you mention, Carl Gunnarsson would be the one I’d want back (at his 2013 level). An under-rated puck mover.

COMMENT: Hi Kevin,

Leafs are certainly on the ropes for Game 5. I don’t think Kadri playing in Boston will help. I believe it would hinder their chances at winning another game in this series. Nazem would be a target and a distraction and would shift the focus. It could get ugly.

Gary T, Atlanta Georgia

RESPONSE: Wouldn’t be surprised if Kadri did pull of the “doing too much” routine.

COMMENT: Hi Kevin.
With Bozak, JVR, Komarov, and Moore. Most likely gone to free agency. What’s your opinion on the Leafs taking trying to convince Matt Cullen to come to Toronto. Three Stanley Cups and 20 yrs experience wouldn’t he be a great example for Matthews and Nylander?
Thanks, John

RESPONSE: I’m not sure adding the NHL’s senior-est citizen is the idea here, not when they already have Patrick Marleau in the role of mentor.

COMMENT: I agree with management…stay the course. You see where going for it early gets us. I’m almost 50 and I wasn’t even born the last time they won a Cup.

Tony

RESPONSE: I was born, but I don’t have a first-hand memory of it.

COMMENT: Kevin, I know I can mirror to my tv. But my granddaughter is only 6, and I can’t wait. But seriously, it’s the signing into Facebook part that is driving me nuts. Does know one care about what these people are doing? Think about the power they have when you are signed in with them. Scares the crap out of me. My son can unlock his front door with his smartphone. Turn on the lights he can, from his office in Oakville. What stops someone hacking that lock and going after that granddaughter of mine. Ok, Ok, I’m getting a little out there now, but you get my point. We should all be very afraid.

Kerry S

RESPONSE: I hear you. … It seems we, as a culture, traded privacy for the ability to post selfies.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

TORONTO STAR

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PREGAME: Facing elimination, Maple Leafs roll out new lines