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Crucial for third member of Maple Leafs' Matthews-Marner line to know his role: Keefe

Maple Leafs captain John Tavares, shown here, spent some time playing alongside Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner on Monday night against Calgary. The trio was held off the scoresheet.
Maple Leafs captain John Tavares, shown here, spent some time playing alongside Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner on Monday night against Calgary. The trio was held off the scoresheet.

Sheldon Keefe knows what he wants from the Maple Leafs winger that he puts beside Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner.

“The biggest thing you’re looking for is somebody to allow those guys to do their thing and not disrupt it,” the Leafs coach said. “They get moving around in the offensive zone and you can’t get in their way. You have to have proper spacing and you have to be able to let them do their thing with how they move around.”

Joe Thornton, who is day to day with a lower-body injury, has fit that job description rather well when he has not been hurt.

On Monday, for two periods anyway, Keefe stacked the Matthews line, at least in theory. The addition of captain John Tavares to the left flank, however, amounted to no goals before changes were made in the third period of the 3-0 loss.

It wasn’t clear whether Keefe would start the game against Calgary on Wednesday with Tavares on the line again.

“It felt weird,” Marner said of the trio’s performance. “We really couldn’t get into much of a rhythm. The first two periods weren’t our best, we weren’t moving very well. The puck wasn’t moving very fast.”

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