Leafs fans dumbfounded by Keefe's explanation for Liljegren's healthy scratches
With the trade deadline now in the rearview mirror for the Toronto Maple Leafs, the team is tasked with figuring out how to fit all their shiny new toys into the lineup.
Since February 17, the team has acquired six new players in a series of trades, mixing up nearly one-third of the Leafs’ roster on any given night.
It’s no doubt a challenge for the team’s coaching staff to fit everyone in and keep everyone happy, but one decision that dumbfounded a large portion of the team’s fanbase was the choice to sit 23-year-old defenceman Timothy Liljegren in Saturday’s 4-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks, as well as last Thursday night in a 2-1 win over the Calgary Flames.
“He’s an important guy for us, but, as I’ve talked to him about … our team is deeper on defence now,” Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe said about Liljegren on Monday, as reported by TSN’s Mark Masters. “The standard is higher in terms of staying in. He was in a similar situation last season.”
Saturday’s game marked just the second contest for one of the Leafs’ newest defencemen Luke Schenn this season after being acquired from those same Canucks, but many wondered why Liljegren specifically ended up being the odd man out of Toronto’s lineup.
Liljegren has five goals and 10 assists in 50 games this season, while averaging 18:41 of ice time per game. When it comes to 5v5 goal differential, Liljegren’s +18 mark leads all regular Leafs defenders.
Leafs fans didn’t take all too kindly to Keefe’s explanation of why he picked Liljegren to sit on Saturday rather than one of the team’s more veteran players.
Here’s some of the reaction to Masters’ tweet:
Love to do Tampa Bay a favour by sitting our top 4 dman https://t.co/sMPZBxcue5
— friend of the show (@atBraydenEngel) March 7, 2023
This is a little concerning. He looks good by not only the eye test but also the fancy stats test. He makes everyone he plays with better. #LeafsForever https://t.co/q4bU9RBxMb
— #LeafsInFive (@TMLeafsForever) March 7, 2023
Liljegren has been the most consistent dman all season. Why is Keefe singling him out when Rielly and Holl have been inconsistent all season? Maybe he should relay that message to the vets. #LeafsForever https://t.co/70CABL2a3L
— Peter B (@PBaracchini) March 7, 2023
Keefe has done this with Robertson, Sandin, and Liljegren. He will defer to slower, less talented, veterans almost always. I dont like this at all. #LeafsForever https://t.co/KPJF5DPaWE
— TML Domain (@13Leafs01) March 7, 2023
He’s been better and more consistent that Rielly, Holl and others. Not sure if this is a mind game or what the hell it is. https://t.co/S7zj4J74hE
— Sticks in the 6ix Podcast ™️ (@StixInThe6ixPod) March 7, 2023
Find someone who believes in you as much as Sheldon Keefe believes in Justin Holl
Seriously, why would you play him over Liljegren? I thought the idea behind trading for Schenn and McCabe would be to avoid forcing Holl out there in a playoff series? https://t.co/KIJht5AIfq
— Caleb Mauldin (@cwmauldin00) March 7, 2023
I’m going to become the Joker. https://t.co/TygRvLzPHw
— Steve “Dangle” Glynn (@Steve_Dangle) March 7, 2023
Sheldon Keefe is washed https://t.co/iG83LPh4Jk
— Joey (@joeycongi98) March 7, 2023
Healthy scratching Lily will always be a bad idea imho https://t.co/VfxIqLusIC
— annie (@EmMapleLeafs) March 7, 2023
The Leafs take on the Devils tonight at 7 pm ET, with Liljegren set to draw back in the lineup as Schenn remains in Vancouver awaiting the birth of his child.
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