This idea didn’t work last time, but Sheldon Keefe is trying again.
On Monday in an off-day practice, the Toronto Maple Leafs‘the head coach shook his no. 1 row, with Nick Ritchie, Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner as the top trio.
“Obviously Ritchie, Auston and Mitch were what we started with [earlier this season], and it didn’t go well, “Keefe told reporters Monday after training. The” didn’t go well “part is something fans know quite well.
“I think all three players, frankly, are in a different place right now with their game than where they were, so we wanted to give them another chance,” continued Keefe.
That second heat comes on Tuesday night, when the Leafs, winners of three in a row, take on the Predators.
There’s a bit of a natural headache in having Ritchie back on the line. The 25-year-old has two assists in 16 games this season and no goals on 24 shots on the net. His linemates, Matthews and Marner, have scored 26 points this season: that’s how many Ritchie has racked up in 56 games last year with the Boston Bruins.
It’s a question if the local boy (Ritchie is from nearby Orangeville, Ontario, and played his minor hockey in Toronto) and the former first round can do well on his second shot on that leading trio.
And Marner, another local boy, has another chance to play with Matthews, who had recently played alongside William Nylander. Nylander is now online with John Tavares and Alexander Kerfoot.
“It was interesting because I think the individual players played well,” said Keefe, of Matthews and Nylander, who spent 10 games together on the top line. “And when I looked at the possibilities generated by Auston and generated by Will, they didn’t necessarily involve each other. And it just talks about how big they are individually. But there was no connection “.
Keefe said that doesn’t mean the duo won’t be revisited or called into question at different points in a match, but he pointed out that the Matthews-Marner connection last season was a good one “which we think can really help us.”
“We wanted to try a few different things as a team, that’s what you do throughout the season and try to get the right mix and make sure you use different ideas,” Keefe told reporters. “I think it’s a good opportunity now to reset things.”