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With Rielly back, Bertuzzi over Tavares on PP1 should be given an extended look

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Photo credit:Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Nick Alberga
1 month ago
Over the course of Morgan Rielly’s five-game suspension, the Leafs made a subtle change to their power play that’s worth sticking with for the foreseeable future.
Tyler Bertuzzi, who briskly ended a 19-game goalless drought in last weekend’s 9-2 drubbing of the Anaheim Ducks, was promoted to No. 1 unit in favour of John Tavares.
In true Sheldon Keefe fashion though, Tavares was back in his familiar role on Thursday night in Arizona.
Having said all that, with Toronto’s No. 1 blue liner set to return in Vegas, it would be fascinating to see how PP1 would look like over an extended period of time with Bertuzzi on it and no Tavares.
They’ve tried every other combination, so why not give this one a legitimate look?
For starters, the Leafs have more than enough firepower on PP1 that subtracting the captain from it would have little to no impact production wise. Additionally, that would also mean that you would have the luxury of having John Tavares, who’s already tallied 15 power play points this season, on your second unit. It’s a win-win. Even though PP2 barely gets ice-time, there’s no question that adding a potent power play presence to it would significantly help to boost it.  On top of that, Tavares could change for Bertuzzi at any time. In the grand scheme of things, the move makes an abundance of sense.
Sure, you’re demoting a player making $11 million this season who’s been struggling to produce at even strength. Long term though, it would mean cutting back on Tavares’ minutes and keeping him fresh for the post-season —when the games really matter. Big picture, that could prove to be huge for an organization that’s in dire need of post-season success.
Over and above all that, any way you slice it, it’s imperative for the Leafs to get Tyler Bertuzzi going offensively. Indisputably, with an extended look on PP1, the 28-year-old should have no problem gaining some much-needed confidence. Hell, even Jay Rosehill would be able to pick up a point or two with all that star-power around him on the power play.
Furthermore, Bertuzzi brings a little bit of a different dynamic than Tavares —not seen since maybe the Zach Hyman days. The strategy should be a simple one: Park Bertuzzi in front of the net and let the big boys cook. Enough said.
Now’s the time for experimentation.

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