As coach Sheldon Keefe tinkers with the Maple Leafs’ lines, Matthew Knies receives a promotion.

As coach Sheldon Keefe tinkers with the Maple Leafs’ lines, Matthew Knies receives a promotion.

With Knies moving up, the Maple Leafs’ forward group will be different when they face the Panthers on Thursday in Florida to begin a five-game trip.

Knies was positioned on the second line with captain John Tavares and William Nylander by Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe during practice on Wednesday at the Ford Performance Centre after being promoted to the top six.

When the Leafs make their first trip to the Panthers’ newly renamed arena, Amerant Bank Arena, since losing to Florida in the second round of the 2023 Stanley Cup playoffs, expect to see that lineup.

On the third line, Keefe also had veterans Max Domi and Calle Jarnkrok flanking rookie Fraser Minten.

Despite the Leafs having a full day off on Tuesday, Tyler Bertuzzi missed the game due to a maintenance day.
However, Keefe anticipated that Bertuzzi would play against the Panthers.

The 21-year-old can supposedly exert more of an impact with the Knies move, according to thinking.

I believe Knies has a lot more to give us, Keefe said.
The average Knies’ minutes (12 minutes, 12 seconds) are too short.

Knies has played quite well, in my opinion.
On that line, I seem to have lost him a little bit.
He has a good chance to become more involved with those guys when he hits the road.

Although the Leafs have won two of their first three games, Keefe is still figuring out how to use the forward group and get the most out of each player.
We’re not talking about Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, Tavares, or Nylander, of course.

Additionally, the fourth line of David Kampf, which is between Ryan Reaves and Noah Gregor, will be preserved.

Simply put, the summer-signing forwards, such as Bertuzzi, Domi, and Reaves, lack the defensive jam that Ryan O’Reilly, Alex Kerfoot, and Noel Acciari, who have since left the team, did. Sam Lafferty’s recent trade for salary cap reasons didn’t help either.

With only one assist and four shots on goal in his first month with the Leafs, Domi has been ineffective.
He struggles on defense, and his puck handling is also a concern.

The only three Leafs who haven’t been on the ice for a Toronto goal at 5-on-5 are Domi, Knies, and Reaves.

Each player needs to discover their own style of play, according to Keefe.
“I have to assist them with that.
You’re trying to introduce and become comfortable with a lot of guys at the same time.

Everyone is accountable for the minutes they do receive, but you’re trying to find the right mix for everyone.

Things will fall into place, but as we travel, the rearranging of the lines is more about attempting to consistently get men out there.
Special teams almost always contribute as well.

Following the splash he made last spring, Knies might have slowed down if he had to play with Minten, another rookie, right away.
Knies will have a better chance to utilize his offensive abilities when he is playing with Tavares and Nylander.

Knies did not object to the notion that he needed to get loose in the offensive zone.
His four attempts at goal are all misses.

Knies responded, “I mean, yeah.
“I simply want to contribute in every way that I can, doing my best.

“I wish to succeed.
In my ideal scenario, I would be the recipient.
I just need to execute and bear down a little bit, and I believe it will happen.

I’m not always concerned with winning.
I concentrate on winning the line next to me.
The goals and everything else happen at that time.

Off the ice, Knies and Tavares have developed a close relationship that has resulted in Knies relocating to the captain’s house.
On Knies’ birthday on Tuesday, Tavares reported that his two young sons were overjoyed to sing Happy Birthday and present Knies with a suitcase and a shirt.

There is now a chance for the working relationship to flourish.

Tavares remarked that it was remarkable how physically capable and dominant a young man could be.
We have the utmost respect for him and are aware of his great potential.
Off the ice, we’ve had a great time getting to know each other, and that will only help us.


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