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Now’s the perfect time to split Matthews & Marner up for a little while

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Photo credit:© Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Nick Alberga
2 months ago
Like any good couple would tell you, there’s nothing wrong with taking some time apart sometimes.
With that in mind, considering how out of sync they’ve looked together lately, it could be time for Sheldon Keefe to separate Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner —at least for a little while.
And luckily, Keefe’s been an expert line juggler for several seasons now, so he should have no problem going to that well once again. At this point, anyone who’s seen that dynamic duo at their best and compared it to what they’ve looked like lately would attest that it’s probably time for a bit of a reset.
Luckily, the simple solution would be to flip Marner and William Nylander in the lineup, something that’s brought the team considerable success in the past. I mean, the team certainly boasts the star power, so might as well take advantage of it, right? It’s the ultimate trump card, and quite frankly, it’s been in Keefe’s arsenal since taking over behind the bench in November of 2019.
Of course, the immediate hesitancy to execute such a move is understandable. That’s because the Bertuzzi, Tavares, Nylander trio has looked superb over the past three weeks or so. That said, while there’s no question that they had some chances over the weekend, even that trio has shown signs of regression in recent outings.
Translation: Now’s the time to tinker. Furthermore, the Leafs will play four of the next five contests on home ice at Scotiabank Arena, which means they’ll have access to the all-important last change. In the long run, that’s a perfect recipe for experimentation.
Lastly, if they do go ahead and make the move, it’s not like it has be permanent or anything. Unequivocally, the main objective right now should be finding a way – whatever it may be – to get Matthews and Marner cooking again.
Plain and simple. No need to big brain this operation.

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