Photo credit: NHL
MAR 17, 2023  (12:14)
Sheldon Keefe announces surprising scratch for tonight's game against the Canes

Sheldon Keefe announces surprising scratch for tonight's game against the Canes

BY RYAN SMITHERAM
Yesterday, Luke Schenn returning to the regular rotation at practice, skating alongside Jake McCabe, it appeared likely that Schenn would likely be playing tonight against Carolina, regardless if Sheldon Keefe decided to use an 11/7 or 12/6 lineup. Having Schenn next to McCabe meant that Keefe would have to scratch one of Erik Gustafsson or Justin Holl. Many had speculated that Gustafsson would be the one scratched, but Sheldon Keefe revealed his decision following practice this morning, much to the surprise of many in Leafs Nation.

Keefe confirmed after practice that the Leafs would be using the 11F/7D lineup tonight, and that Justin Holl would be a scratch, joining Conor Timmins in the press box, meaning that Erik Gustafsson is going to be the 7th defenseman for the Leafs tonight against the Hurricanes.

Scratching Holl is something many Leaf fans have been wanting since the Leafs acquired Schenn, McCabe and Gustafsson, but Keefe was reluctant to do because of his "defensive play" and "penalty killing abilities".

With Holl scratched tonight, that means that Keefe has elected to stick with the pairings he had at practice yesterday with Morgan Rielly and T.J. Brodie together, Mark Giordano and Timothy Liljegren paired up and McCabe and Schenn as the third unit, with Gustafsson rotating through or being used on the powerplay. Should the seven blueliners play well enough tonight, Holl could also find himself in the press box again for tomorrow's game against Ottawa, where Keefe has already confirmed that the Leafs will be using the traditional 12F and 6D lineup.


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