With the Maple Leafs down to their final out, head coach Mike Babcock has changed up the team’s lines for Game 5 in Boston.
Some interesting new lines from the #leafs:
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) April 21, 2018
In an attempt to get the offence going, Babcock has spread out his top offensive weapons over four lines. Connor Brown will get a shot next to Auston Matthews, pushing William Nylander onto a line with Andreas Johnsson and Tomas Plekanec, who got bumped down with Nazem Kadri returning to his normal spot after serving a three-game suspension. James van Riemsdyk, who has two goals this series, will anchor a newly-formed “fourth line” with Tyler Bozak and Kasperi Kapanen.
It will be interesting to see if this sparks Matthews and Nylander, who got some tough love from their coach after an underwhelming performance in Game 4.
Babcock on Auston Matthews: "I'm assuming that he thought he was going to come tonight and dominate the game; that's what I thought. I thought the same with Willy. That didn't happen."
— Jonas Siegel (@jonassiegel) April 20, 2018
The Leafs’ duo have combined for just two points through four games this series, with Nylander in particular struggling to make an impact against the stingy Bruins defence.
“The bottom line is [the first line] wasn’t going,” Babcock told reporters after the morning skate. “We got to change something and try to get it going.”
The Maple Leafs have lost the battle of the top lines throughout the series. The trio of Matthews, Zach Hyman and Nylander have been outscored 23-5 in the points department by Boston’s top line of David Pastrnak, Patrice Bergeron (Riley Nash in Game 4) and Brad Marchand. That is simply not good enough and a big reason the Leafs are in the hole they currently sit in.
Speaking of Bergeron, it appears the Bruins’ No. 1 centre will return to the lineup on Saturday after sitting out Game 4 with an upper-body injury.
#NHLBruins morning rushes:
Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak
DeBrusk – Krejci – Rick Nash
Heinen – Riley Nash – Backes
Schaller – Kuraly – Acciari
Chara – McAvoy
Krug – McQuaid
Grzelcyk – Miller
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) April 21, 2018
With Bergeron back, Riley Nash slides back down to the third line, Tommy Wingels drops out of the lineup, but everything else remains the same.