Line 2: William Nylander – John Tavares – Ilya Mikheyev
This makes one of the two skill lines, and it really does match a other team’s elite first lines, but this is what the Maple Leafs are lucky to have. Skill wise, it’s amazing to say that this is the second line, but here we are. William Nylander is a dynamic offensive player when he’s at his peak, capable of playmaking as well as play finishing (one timer, tip-in, etc). John Tavares is a former first-overall selection, and he has done well with the ice time he has been given.
However, I am a bit confused as to where to place Ilya Mikheyev as Kerfoot seems to be a better defensive forward, but I feel like Kerfoot could work out better for this line to force turnovers and turn puck battles to the Leaf’s favor. As long as Collin Blackwell doesn’t find his way back here, I don’t mind.
As you can guess based on what you have read this far, this line will be offense-focused with not just a cycle play, but also set, creative plays for Nylander and Tavares. Unlike the third line where offense is an extra, this line will be expected to take on a brunt of the goal scoring as the first line will most likely be met with the opposition’s best defenders.
Because of a (hypothetical) easier matchup, this line should have more open ice to complete plays that the first line may have trouble with. They should prefer to carry the puck into the zone and set up with the defense covering the blue line.
Skill lines are, as it says, expected to score goals and are depended on to produce on a nightly basis. Whether they score or not, the MUST create momentum for the team to feed off of and create a ton of chances, given their matchups. As the Toronto Maple Leafs have a plethora of offense, I’m not too worried at the moment, but the playoffs are all about every line doing their job. The second line may have the most pressure on them if the first line ends up being locked down.