What the Toronto Maple Leafs Playoff Lineup Should Look Like

Toronto Maple Leafs - Morgan Rielly (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
Toronto Maple Leafs - Morgan Rielly (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /
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Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs
TORONTO, ONTARIO – AUGUST 09: Nick Foligno #71 of the Columbus Blue Jackets scores a empty net goal at 19:37 as Auston Matthews #34 of the Toronto Maple Leafs . (Photo by Andre Ringuette/Freestyle Photo/Getty Images) /

Hyman- Matthews – Marner

Zach Hyman is injured, but when he’s back he should play on the top line with Matthews and Marner.

While I do like  the Hyman-Engvall-Mikheyev line, at the end of the day you’ve got to focus your best players on to the top lines and make sure you win where it counts.  The Leafs are a deep team with a lot of great players, but Hyman-Matthews-Marner is probably the NHL’s best line.

The Leafs are winning 24-10 in goals when Hyman and Matthews are together.  The sample size of them playing together is large, and they dominate. Matthew has played about half the year with Hyman and half the year with someone else on the left side.  With anyone else, the Leafs have gotten a very strong 54% of the goals, but with Hyman it’s 70%.

And while no one is likely to score 70% of the total goals over the long term, the Hyman-Matthews combo has played at a 62% expected-goals percentage, meaning that despite the obvious good luck that is necessary to outscore opponents 24-10, they are still doing amazingly well together.

I will cut Foligno some slack for having to switch teams and quarantine, which means that his first two games were essentially meaningless when it comes to telling us where he should play, and since they paid so much to acquire him the temptation to play him on the top line may be great.

But we don’t actually need to know anything about Foligno. We know enough about Hyman. He has proven all skeptics wrong and somehow turned himself into something at least approximating an elite player.  He needs to be on the first line.