Tonight, in their game against the Washington Capitals, the Toronto Maple Leafs coaching staff has made a number of line changes. One is that Calle Jarnkrok will be moved to the first line with Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner. That was a line that, last season, Auston Matthews had requested. He liked playing with Jarnkrok and thought the Swedish forward brought abilities to the unit.
With that move, Tyler Bertuzzi moves to the second line to partner with John Tavares and William Nylander. In an interview after practice yesterday, Nylander was asked what he thought about the switch. You can see his comments in the short video below.
In this post, I’ll share what I think are some things to look for in this new second-line partnership.
Three Things to Look for from Nylander, Tavares & Bertuzzi Line
Given the success of Tavares and Nylander so far this season, it might be that Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe is seeing this as a chance to get Bertuzzi going by moving him to the second line. Both Tavares and Nylander are leading the team in scoring this season with nine points in five games.
As the threesome gears up for their on-ice debut, here are three essential questions I believe fans should keep a close watch on.
Question One: Can the Second Line Develop Chemistry?
The swiftness with which Nylander, Tavares, and Bertuzzi develop their on-ice chemistry will be crucial. Observing their ability to synchronize movements, execute good passes, and create scoring opportunities will highlight their potential as a successful line. A strong connection will undoubtedly enhance their effectiveness and the team’s overall performance.
Chemistry is a key. Can Bertuzzi fit in well?
Question Two: Can the Second Line Continue Its Offensive Success?
Fans should pay keen attention to the impact Nylander, Tavares, and Bertuzzi have on the Maple Leafs’ offensive output. Tracking their ability to generate goals, assists, and scoring chances will demonstrate how well their playing styles complement one another. The partnership’s ability to enhance their team’s scoring success will be a key storyline to follow throughout the game.
Where might Bertuzzi fit into the mix? How well will he complement the two second-line fixtures?
Question Three: Can the Second Line Play Good Defense?
While known for their offensive prowess, will Nylander, Tavares, and Bertuzzi handle their defensive responsibilities well? That’s an equally significant issue. The line’s performance in the defensive zone, which includes backchecking, disrupting opponents’ plays, and supporting the defensemen, will be vital. A well-rounded partnership capable of excelling at both ends of the ice can become a game-changer for the Leafs, adding depth and stability.
How will Bertuzzi be able to engage his defensive responsibilities?
The Bottom Line
As the Maple Leafs set out on what might be a minor tweak – or a major change in their lineup, there are a few things to watch for. Specifically, will there be an unfolding synergy between Nylander, Tavares, and Bertuzzi?
These three key questions I have listed above – chemistry, production, and defence – will provide valuable insights into the potential of this new second line to impact the team’s success.