Weighing rolling four lines vs. three lines plus specialists for the Leafs

We’ve just passed the quarter of the season mark, there is a lot of hockey left, why are you making a case for a shorter bench?
One of the better parts of the season has been what Spezza and Simmonds have done on the fourth line, why would you take that away?
These are my primary arguments for no matter what seems like the better approach in the long run, in the short term the idea of sticking with rolling four lines at 5v5 makes a lot of sense. That being said, the season is long, and eventually playoff races will heat up, and there will come a time when the Leafs need to be a bit more focused about how they deploy their players, and under Sheldon Keefe, the fourth line does still find around 10 minutes of icetime a night at 5v5.
When it comes to 5v5, the Leafs peak usage is with Auston Matthews playing 16:37 a night since the beginning of last season. Marner is the only other player averaging over 15 minutes, and regular fourth liners like Simmonds and Spezza are at the other end of the scale still playing around 9 minutes a night of 5v5. The …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

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