You never want 10 days or so off after winning 3 straight, not knowing if you could have won seven more. So from that perspective, this is the ideal time for the Leafs to take a break.
Game thoughts, from Tom
Andersen needs a break more than anyone. Let's say it honestly: He's been pretty bad lately. My fear is he's burned out, the way a team with poor defensive play inevitably burns out a goalie, asking him to carry the load. Maybe an all-star appearance will rejuvenate him. On the other hand, there are other disturbing considerations. Babcock won Andersen over by sticking with him when he was playing poorly. In part, it was because Andersen is all he had. But it worked for his mentality. Now, with Keefe pulling him twice recently, and deserving of a pull tonight, that chemistry may be gone. If he tails off from here out, they miss the playoffs, and the board asks Shanahan why the hell he put out a team built on this unproven analytics approach. If he even remotely tries to throw Dubas under the bus, both of them will get sacked, because you can't excuse putting a kid in charge, because he talked a good game. The stakes are too high, financially.
Liljegren doesn't look like he's NHL ready, the way Sandin sort of does, notwithstanding the Toews breakaway he let get away. But the bigger problem is Liljegren plays like Barrie, Rielly, Dermott, and Sandin. Who does the heavy lifting, other than Muzzin, who's out anyway? Holl and Marincin? Marincin is not up to top minutes, like he's asked to play. Holl is growing into his role, but he just signed an extension at 2.0 AAV, and with where he's at in his development, he's not grossly underpaid. There's not enough beef for them to contend. They talk about copying the Penguins' recent cup runs, but they had more defensive minded defenders than the Leafs do. How does anyone think you can win without that? Maybe Shanny is consulting with Dion Phaneuf on what to do about that. Funny, but Phaneuf looks more like a mafioso with his hair slicked like that, than he does a hockey exec. Maybe he's going to appear in a flick with Elisha, playing a wise guy.
Adam Brooks is not an NHL player, to my eye. Gauthier might have been a better choice, although with that performance by Andersen, nothing would have won for them tonight.
Bottom line, unless Keefe can duplicate the Babcock chemistry with Freddie, and I'm not sure it's healthy long-term to be so wedded to only one guy, this year could slip away in a hurry.