Things went from bad to worse for the Toronto Maple Leafs as they will be without captain John Tavares for two weeks because of a broken finger.
It appears the injury occurred in the third period during the Leafs loss to the Washington Capitals when a Morgan Rielly point shot appeared to hit him off the hand. Ironically enough, Tavares didn’t miss a shift and scored to pull the Leafs within a goal.
Obviously, his absence will have a drastic impact on the lineup and it couldn’t come at a worse time with two games against the Boston Bruins coming up starting on Saturday night.
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Of course, the question on everyone’s mind is what the Leafs plan to do with Tavares out of the lineup?
What makes the most sense is to put Alexander Kerfoot in Tavares’ spot on the top line which means that Mitch Marner will have to play a bigger offensively to make sure that line can continue to be productive.
This will also put more pressure on Auston Matthews to take the tougher matchups which shouldn’t be an issue considering the Leafs know they have a 1A, 1B situation with Matthews and Tavares.
Moving Kerfoot up to Tavares’ spot does create a hole on the third line and it seems unlikely that William Nylander will be asked to fill that spot like he has in the past. The team can look at Nic Petan, Jason Spezza and potentially Nick Shore to fill the void.
Those might not seem like the strongest options but no team can replace a player like Tavares easily but just ask the Pittsburgh Penguins what it means to have Sidney Crosby to pick up the workload. The Leafs have to start showing that they have the depth capable of stepping in when injuries happen.
Hopefully, Travis Dermott and Zach Hyman can return sooner rather than later to provide a boost but this stretch without Tavares will test the Leafs and Mike Babcock on how they can deal with the adversity.
Are you worried about the Leafs without Tavares? Who needs to step up in his absence? Let us know in the comments below.