The Maple Leafs Blue-Line Just Went from Garbage to Full Fledged Disaster

Toronto Maple Leafs v Ottawa Senators
Toronto Maple Leafs v Ottawa Senators / Chris Tanouye/Freestyle Photo/GettyImages
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The Toronto Maple Leafs blue-line was already bad.

But without Morgan Rielly, the Toronto Maple Leafs blue-line is downright horrible.

The worst thing about Rielly's over-the-top assault of Ridly Greig was that the Leafs will now be forced to play a significant chunk of the season's remaining games without their only no-doubt top-four defenseman. They definitely cannot afford this.

Jake McCabe is having a good season since he returned from injury, but on a team with an elite blue-line, he'd be on the third pairing, as would every single member of the Leafs blue-line other than Rielly.

The Leafs Blue-Line Just Went from Garbage to Full Fledged Disaster

The Leafs blue-line is not great at defending, but that isn't even their biggest problem.

The Leafs biggest need is a puck-moving defenseman, because moving the puck to their forwards (and out of the D zone) is their biggest issues. Other than goaltending, it's the team's biggest problem.

The reason that Matthews and Marner have significantly lower expected-goals ratings this season prior to their past performance is because of how bad the blue-line is at moving the puck.

Conor Timmins rarely plays, and Liljegren rarely gets ice-time above the third pairing.

Jake McCabe is a below average puck mover. Simon Benoit is below average at moving the puck for a men's league. TJ Brodie has fallen fast and hard. Mark Giodano is roughly as good as Benoit.

This group can't really defender, but Rielly won't hurt that. In fact, losing him will make the team's defense better. The problem is that "defense" means you don't have the puck. Rielly is by far the best player on the Leafs at getting the puck up the ice and kick-starting the offense.

In today's NHL you need, minimum, one puck-moving dman on the ice at all times. The Leafs really only have one on their roster. This really detracts from what Tavares, Matthews et al can do in a game.

What Rielly did was really stupid and it's going to hurt his team down the stretch. The Leafs shouldn't even be playing TJ Brodie, now he's suddenly going to be their #1, likely paired with Jake McCabe on the worst top pairing anyone has seen since the Ottawa Senators inaugural season.

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The Toronto Maple Leafs goaltending situation is already an emergency, their blue-line is now one too. I don't expect Brad Treliving to act, because, frankly, I'm not entirely convinced he's real. I've seen Santa in action more than I've seen Brad.