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Justin Holl’s Benching Forces Maple Leafs’ Lineup Changes for Red Wings

Toronto Maple Leafs’ defenseman Justin Holl will be a healthy scratch tonight against the Detroit Red Wings. Who will take his place?

Today the news came down from the Toronto Maple Leafs that defenseman Justin Holl would be sitting as a healthy scratch during tonight’s game against the Detroit Red Wings. Maple Leafs’ head coach Sheldon Keefe announced after Friday’s practice that Holl simply had not played up to the organization’s expectations this season.

During the Maple Leafs’ practice, Holl was the extra defenseman. Both Holl, who with his partner Jake Muzzin, had last season had created together one of the best shutdown pairings in recent Maple Leafs’ history have fallen from grace – at least according to the analytics. Both players have gone from quite high plus/minus statistics to much lower ones this season. Specifically, Holl was a plus-16 last season but currently has recorded a minus-7 rating through eight games.

Related: Morgan Rielly Signs 8-Year Extension with Maple Leafs

Lineup Changes in the Wake of Holl’s Benching

At the end of the Maple Leafs’ practice today, The Hockey News’ reporter David Alter tweeted the following lineup changes. As Maple Leafs’ fans can see, the forward units will stay pretty much as they were. However, the defensive pairings have been tweaked quite a bit.

Kyle Dubas Morgan Rielly Maple Leafs
Kyle Dubas re-signed Morgan Rielly today for the Maple Leafs

The changes include newly re-signed Morgan Rielly playing on the first pairing with Travis Dermott. Jake Muzzin will be on the second pairing as always; however, his new partner will be T.J. Brodie in Holl’s place. The third pairing will be made up of Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren.

Coach Keefe Comments on the Changes to the Defense

When coach Keefe was asked after practice what he took into consideration when he made the decision to shake up the defensive pairings, he noted that, as a team, “We just haven’t played well enough as a unit defensively. That is as a team and includes the forwards and their contributions as well, but the D pairs and the D core have not played well enough.”

Keefe continued; and, while he didn’t blame it all on Holl, he did single out Holl for the benching. He noted “It is not just Justin Holl, but Justin Holl has not played near his level that we have come to expect. He has earned our greater degree of expectation and responsibility here through his play and the way he has performed for us, but it hasn’t been to that level here to start with.”

Again, Keefe included Holl as the designated press-box occupant. However, Keefe did say that Holl “is not the only one, but he is not going to play tomorrow. That in itself changes the chemistry of the group. We wanted to move some things around to see how that looks tomorrow.”

We’ll Find Out Tonight How the Changes Work

How these changes work will be known later tonight. The Red Wings are a surprise in the Eastern Conference. They have played the same number of games (eight) as the Maple Leafs but are three points ahead in the standings with a 4-2-2 record.

Related: Maple Leafs’ Newcomer David Kampf Haunts His Old Team: He Scored!



  1. gfinale

    October 30, 2021 at 8:54 am

    If Keefe was benching for poor play, it would be Marner who was benched. As usual, this is Keefe and Dubas sucking up to the “core 4” while trying to make a statement and Holl gets used and abused for it. Who goes from top 4 to not being in the lineup without having skipped a meeting or whatever?!!

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