The Toronto Maple Leafs appear to be pondering some curious lineup changes for Game 2 of their series against the Boston Bruins. Paul Hendrick tweeted out this afternoon that Matt Frattin and Ryan Hamilton are likely to check in, while Frazer McLaren and Clarke MacArthur look to be the odd men out. He also noted that Jake Gardiner and Ryan O’Byrne should join the blueline in place of John-Michael Liles and the injured Mike Kostka.
Let’s look at the forwards first. It’s a great idea to bring in Frattin and Hamilton, but scratching MacArthur is a little puzzling. I know he has been struggling in recent weeks, however, having him in there for depth makes sense. Zdeno Chara is going to do a great job of dealing with Phil Kessel and that top group for the most part, so having some other scorers lower on the depth chart to take advantage of a Bruins lesser pairing is a must. With Andrew Ference suspended and Dougie Hamilton likely to play in his first post-season game, there are opportunities to be had. Keeping someone like Colton Orr in over MacArthur is ridiculous because as we saw in Game 1, the Bruins have no interest in fighting. Playing MacArthur and Frattin with Jay McClement on the fourth line could lead to a timely goal.
The defensive moves are a lot more logical. One of the problems Toronto had on Wednesday was making outlet passes. The defense constantly turned it over and gave possession right back to the Bruins. Having Jake Gardiner back there allows them to make some great first passes out of their own zone and he doesn’t panic with the puck, even though sometimes he probably should. O’Byrne is steady defensively and will do a nice job of backing him up.
Of course this could all change prior to game-time as Randy Carlyle often makes last-minute alterations.