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The Ilya Samsonov treatment seems to have worked in T.J. Brodie’s favour

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Photo credit:© Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Nick Alberga
27 days ago
The sample size may still be relatively small but there’s no question that T.J. Brodie has turned a bit of a corner since his two-game mental reset. Almost like someone called for this?
In five outings since he was healthy scratched in back-to-back contests, the 33-year-old pending UFA has tallied four assists —highlighted by a gorgeous dish to Auston Matthews for No. 61 on Monday night against the Florida Panthers. In addition to his contributions offensively, Brodie has looked much more composed defensively, which has been the root of his struggles over the past few seasons. Third period against the Panthers aside, he’s been far less noticeable, which is a compliment for his skill set. The less you notice Brodie, the better he’s probably playing. It’s always been like that.
As referenced, it’s only been a couple of games, so it’s understandable to be cautiously optimistic about these recent developments. That said, considering where Brodie was just even two weeks ago, the Leafs should be feeling pretty good about what they’ve seen from the veteran blue liner over the past little while.
At the very least, Brodie’s built up some confidence, something that’s been missing from his arsenal for months now. Most importantly, even though the parties involved have yet to connect the dots publicly, there are distinct correlations to be drawn between Brodie’s situation – at rock bottom – and Ilya Samsonov’s. And look how the story for the latter turned out. Whatever the tactics were behind the decision-making process, it seems to be working in Toronto’s favour once again —at least right now. The time off has benefited the player, and there’s no denying that.
Furthermore, it was this time last year when many were questioning Morgan Rielly and where his game was at. The No. 1 defenceman was in rough shape. He had zero confidence —just like Brodie. Of course, Rielly would go on to have an amazing postseason, and subsequently, everyone would forget about his pedestrian regular season. Imagine Brodie, who’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, was able to rally and end his tenure in Toronto on a high note? It’s probably wishful thinking, but if it were it happen, the Leafs would be in great shape —no doubt about that.
Any way you slice it, if the Leafs have any hope of doing something substantial this spring, they will need the very best out of T.J. Brodie. With the Stanley Cup Playoffs set to get underway on April 20th, the rearguard has eight regular season games to continue building upon what he’s put together the last little while.
Baby steps. Never say never.

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