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The Maple Leafs power play has looked a little better under Sheldon Keefe, and now there’s more changes coming.
While Mitch Marner is still a few days away from rejoining the No. 1 unit, with Auston Matthews and William Nylander, Keefe has decided to capitalize on Tyson Barrie’s revival since the coaching change. He’ll now quarterback the top group, flipping with Morgan Rielly. At 3-for-8 under Keefe’s watch, the Leafs had bumped up from the bottom third of the NHL rankings to 14th overall at 19.5% before Monday’s games.
Barrie was naturally enthused about the switch, while Rielly said he understood Keefe wants to see new blood and save himself for 5-on-5 or other duties.
“Our unit hasn’t exactly been scorching hot,” Rielly acknowledged. “I talked to Keefer this morning. Barrie’s outstanding on the power play and has a great shot and has been doing it a long time. I think it’s a good opportunity to change things up.”
Once settled, the new groups should have the aforementioned first quartet joined by John Tavares, while Rielly will have Jason Spezza, Zach Hyman, Nic Petan and Alex Kerfoot to work with.
Keefe said he also wanted to chip away at fixing the penalty kill with more work on basics, starting right from the faceoff, which he said is often the start of problems for Toronto.
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