Toronto Maple Leafs Friday Thoughts, Ideas and Feelings

Toronto Maple Leafs v Washington Capitals
Toronto Maple Leafs v Washington Capitals / Patrick Smith/GettyImages

The Toronto Maple Leafs are in the midst of a very odd schedule that has them returning to cities they played in the week before, having back-to-back games split between home and road, while also having a road trip where they had time to come home in between games.

Thus far through March, the Toronto Maple Leafs have posted a 5-3-1 record which isn't bad, but is also not great.

The Leafs are coming off a bad game against the Flyers and a great one against the Capitals.

As the team goes into the final 14 games of the season, here are some thoughts about how the team is playing.

Toronto Maple Leafs Friday Thoughts, Ideas and Feelings

Max Domi Should Have a Longer Look on the Top Line

With Mitch Marner out with a high ankle sprain, it took Sheldon Keefe a few games, but he finally put one of the team's best play makers with Auston Matthews. Wednesday night, Max Domi found himself flanking the league's top goal scorer.

The pair, along with Tyler Bertuzzi dominated the Washington Capitals as the trio all had a Corsi of over 61% while playing 5 on 5. Matthews collected five points, including a pair of goals, while Domi had a four assists in the contest, with three of the helpers being primary assists. With the three primary assists, Domi took the leam lead in (17) in that category while playing 5 on 5.

Once Marner returns, it would be interesting to see the two former London Knights flank Matthews and see if you can give Matthews even more opportunity to bury the puck.

John Tavares Offence Looks Good, But Still Struggling

The Maple Leafs captain has collected three consecutive multi-point games racking up eight points in those contests.

Tavares has quietly put up 20-points in his last 20 games, with 11 of those being goals, however there have been some glaring areas he has struggled with. The biggest cause for concern has been his defensive play in his own end. Often this season Tavares is seen screening his own goalie while also failing to box out his man.

The former Oshawa General is easily the team's weakest defensive center, yet Keefe keeps relying on him in his own end. Wednesday night, Tavares started just two shifts in the offensive zone, while beginning six in his own end. Keefe needs to flip this script and have him start the majority of shifts in the offensive zone.

At this point in his career, Tavares needs to be relied on offensively and count on the other stronger centers to take care of their own end.

Don't Go Back to T.J. Brodie

There are not many players that are more likeable than T.J. Brodie. The life long Toronto Maple Leaf fan came back home when he signed a four-year deal leading into the 2020-21 season.

For the first two and a half seasons of the deal the Chatham, Ontario native was incredibly stable and was the club's top defensive player. Unfortunately, something happened after Christmas of 2022 and his talents fell off and he has not only dropped off as a top four defenseman but he has become unplayable to the point he was a healthy scratch Wednesday night.

Brodie has lost his foot speed and when you add in that he has been making a lot of poor decisions with the puck you have a liability on the ice. It would be arguable to say Conor Timmins is a better choice, but you can give him some looks to the younger defender until he proves he should not be in the line-up and once you get Ilya Lyubhushkin back, Brodie should now be your seventh defenseman.


It is likely that Keefe will continue to go back to Brodie, but the team needs to see what they have without him.