Toronto Maple Leafs: New Lines Are Key To Leafs’ Success

TORONTO, ON - FEBRUARY 5: Auston Matthews
TORONTO, ON - FEBRUARY 5: Auston Matthews /

After a rough stretch in January, Mike Babcock decided to change up the lines. Since then, the Toronto Maple Leafs have gone 6-1-0 in their last seven games.

After the Toronto Maple Leafs went 1-2-3 in mid-January, head coach Mike Babcock decided to switch up the lines.

Before the switch, the Leafs lines typically looked like this:

Zach Hyman – Auston Mathews – William Nylander

James van Riemsdyk – Tyler Bozak – Mitch Marner

Patrick Marleau – Nazem Kadri – Leo Komarov

Matt Martin – Dominic Moore – Connor Brown

Morgan Rielly – Ron Hainsey

Jake Gardiner – Nikita Zaitsev

Andreas Borgman – Roman Polak

While other players have played, those were the most used lines. With that lineup, the Leafs had a record of 26-18-5 in 49 games. While that is a decent record, they still lost a total of 23 games, which I personally am not a big fan of.

New Lines

When the Leafs lost to the Colorado Avalanche 4-2, Babcock decided to change the lines for their next game against the Chicago Blackhawks.

The new lines looked like this.

Zach Hyman – Auston Matthews – William Nylander

James van Riemsdyk – Tyler Bozak – Connor Brown

Patrick Marleau – Nazem Kadri – Mitch Marner

Leo Komarov – Dominic Moore – Kasperi Kapanen

Morgan Rielly – Ron Hainsey

Jake Gardiner – Nikita Zaitsev

Travis Dermott – Connor Carrick

With these new lines, the Leafs have a record of 6-1 in seven games. The current lines are speedy and skilled and every player has a role to help the Leafs be successful. By taking out Martin for Kapanen, the Leafs made their lines faster and all four lines are filled with players who can score.

Since the change, the Leafs have had four games with four goals or more which is very good. They have also had two shutouts, showing that the team is defensively better as well.

Minor Changes

There are only a couple of minor changes that I would make. The first change would be to move Komarov to fourth lines center, then take out Moore for Josh Leivo. Komarov is a natural center and Leivo adds more skill to the lineup and could play well with Kapanen, giving the Leafs a fourth line filled with potential top nine players. Also, if needed, Kapanen is able to move up higher in the lineup.

The next change would be to move Travis Dermott up with Morgan Rielly for a couple of games. I like his speed and he has shown how high is hockey IQ is. He has shown that he can be trusted and makes smart plays most of the time. It might be smart for his long term success to play against tougher competition for a bit to see how he plays under the pressure.

Next: Maple Leafs All-Time Team

Overall, whether or not the Leafs make the minor changes, these lines are still very good and will be challenging to play against. With all four lines being able to score, teams will have to play a very strong defensive game to be able to shut them down. It is a fun time to be a Leafs fan.