Photo credit: Yahoo Sports
Morgan Rielly scratched by Sheldon Keefe
BY DEAN CHAUDHRY MARCH 23, 2023 (5:40 PM)
Brodie comes back into the lineup after sitting out Tuesday's game against the New York Islanders with what was deemed as an undisclosed injury. He took part in the optional morning skate on Tuesday morning but the Leafs conceded that he needed a bit more rest. Meanwhile, Luke Schenn was scratched ahead of Tuesday's game after playing in back to back games on Friday and Saturday.
Rielly has gone through the rigors of an inconsistent season but before tonight's game he had recorded 8 assists and 10 points in his last 14 games. In 55 games this season he has 36 points but is averaging his lowest ATOI since 2017-18 at 22 minutes per game. Over his last 14 games that number has dropped to 20:28.
Having so many able-bodied defensemen is generally a good problem to have, especially with injuries piling up, however when everyone is healthy it can become somewhat of an issue and a distraction. In this case, Keefe and company have simply decided to give Rielly a bit of additional rest.
The Maple Leafs have Mark Giordano, Justin Holl, Jake McCabe, Timothy Liljegren, T.J Brodie, Luke Schenn, Erik Gustafsson, Conor Timmins and, of course, Morgan Rielly under their employ and it seems like Keefe will be rotating around until season's end as he tries to find the right balance between his pairings and resting some players while letting others heal.
It could and should also serve as a wake-up call to Rielly who has been the anchor of Toronto's back-end for years now.