The Toronto Maple Leafs just can’t seem to find a steady lineup this season. Ever since the beginning of the season, it seems that the Leafs have rarely ever had the same lineup for two games in a row. Whether it was a change on the fourth lineup or an injury forcing a change, this season has been one of constant change.
In the 15 games this season, only Nazem Kadri, Phil Kessel, Colton Orr, Mason Raymond, Jake Gardiner, Cody Franson, Dion Phaneuf, Carl Gunnarson, Paul Ranger and Dave Bolland have played in every game. With Bolland’s injury, that list of players will be subtracted by one. For a team to be successful, you need to have stability and the Leafs certainly haven’t had that.
Now, with both Tyler Bozak and Bolland out of the lineup, the Leafs are looking to insert James van Riemsdyk into the first line center role between Kessel and Joffrey Lupul. Bozak is eligible to return to the lineup on November 21 but the chances of him returning that soon seem to be questionable at best.
That change on the first line forces a change throughout the Leafs lineup. The second line will consist of Kadri centering Raymond and David Clarkson. The third line will be Jay McClement centering Nikolai Kulemin and Troy Bodie and the fourth line will consist of Trevor Smith centering Frazer McLaren and Orr.
The Leafs have also been impacted by suspensions. First, Clarkson missed the first ten games for leaving the bench to participate in a fight (although he never threw a punch) and Carter Ashton missed last Saturday’s game and will miss Friday’s game as well because of a dirty hit in Calgary.
The Leafs blueline hasn’t been impacted as much but they still have missed Mark Fraser since the second game of the season.
It is only the second month of season and it is still early but if the Toronto Maple Leafs want to be successful this season, they will need to get healthy soon and hope they can stay that way for the majority of the season.