by Nick Barden
Toronto Maple Leafs captain, John Tavares will be out a minimum of two weeks with a broken finger.
It went from bad, to worse when the Toronto Maple Leafs learnt that Tavares would be out.
In the third period of Wednesday’s 4-3 loss to the Washington Capitals, Morgan Rielly took a slap shot, which went off Tavares’ hand. Not knowing much Wednesday night, everyone went about their business, until Thursday afternoon:
Just when everything could’ve gotten better for the Maple Leafs, it didn’t.
This is the first significant injury of the season for the Toronto Maple Leafs, and luckily it wasn’t a bad one.
By the time Tavares returns to the lineup the Maple Leafs will have a full team, pending no more injuries. But now what do they do?
Who goes where? And which player moves up, or down?
The new lineup:With Tavares out, we could see Auston Matthews move up, or stay where he is and bring Mitch Marner down. It’s not actually up or down as both lines are the ‘number one line’.
Who takes on the role of centre while Tavares is out?
William Nylander is one name who could fit the role. There’s Jason Spezza, who could play third line centre, then you could move Alexander Kerfoot up, but I think it has to be Nylander.
Moving Jason Spezza up could be worth the risk since you don’t want to break up what that fourth line has right now. They’ve been decent the past few games and with Spezza on the 3rd line it could work.
Keep Kasperi Kapanen on the right-side and move him up. Kapanen has played the last two games there and has looked the best he’s looked so far this season.
With Nylander and Kapanen being a playmaker and a shooter, Trevor Moore would work well going in and getting the puck for the line.
A line with Matthews and Marner is just an interesting duo. We’ve witnessed how good Marner is at setting up Tavares, I’m curious to how good Marner can be at setting up Matthews.
If these aren’t the lines that Mike Babcock draws up, I hope it’s pretty close. This should be, and hopefully will be the Maple Leafs lineup until Hyman, and Tavares return in the coming weeks.
Every team needs a bump in the road to show that they can fight back and show their depth. This is one of those moments for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
If they can do well in this stretch, they’ll know that there’s a lot more they can do.