Maybe I’m being a tad over-reactionary, but I’d argue that Keefe might be under-reacting by only making one small change to his Game One lineup…
August 3 @MapleLeafs practice lines & defensive pairings:
— Leafs PR (@LeafsPR) August 3, 2020
I’m sure I’m not being too bold when I say that the minimally used fourth line was not the issue for the Leafs on Sunday night, and swapping in Engvall for Gauthier might not be a significant move.
On the other hand, it doesn’t hurt. Engvall is more versatile and is more capable of keeping up with play in the top nine. If Keefe wants to attempt some in game line juggling, Engvall is a stronger option.
The fact that it doesn’t seem the Leafs are too concerned with playing the fourth line, having situational talent could be more beneficial to the Leafs, and Gauthier, while a fine regular season fourth line player, just might lack in the ability to contribute in a meaningful way during the playoffs.
Unfortunately after getting shutout the Leafs don’t feel the need to give us a spicy new take on the top nine forwards, and no matter how much you hate it, the Leafs have decided to live or die by the Rielly/Ceci blade.
While screaming blow it up seems like a good idea after a playoff loss, the Leafs did essentially only lose by one, and pretending that the top nine won’t score in this tournament is ridiculous. What we should probably hope for is that Keefe demonstrates a willingness to adjust in game tomorrow night if things aren’t going well, rather than the Babcockian approach of stubbornly sticking to his guns. In a best of five series, there isn’t a lot of time to wait and see if they can figure it out, but for now we’ll assume that Keefe knows what he’s doing.