Maple Leafs Coach Praises Young Defensive Duo

Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe has seen his blue line depleted with injuries this season. Morgan Rielly, TJ Brodie, Jordie Benn, Victor Mete and Jake Muzzin have all gone down with injuries and if it wasn't for Timothy Liljegren and Rasmus Sandin, the Leafs wouldn't be sitting with a 16-5-6 record heading into Thursday's game against the Kings.

Keefe knows without his young tandem things would be vastly different in Toronto this season and had this to say about their play after the team's recent 4-0 win over the Dallas Stars:

To me, those guys had an incredible game tonight. Those two young guys took on a lot here tonight, and they were really, really good. "I think you learn a lot about their character. The team needs them to step up in a big way, and they've done exactly that. Like, those guys played hard today. They played a lot of minutes tired, too.

Both defensemen signed contract extensions in Toronto this past offseason and make up a big part of their core on the back end. One crazy stat to consider is the duo has played seven games exclusively together and has only been on the ice for one 5v5 goal against.  

Liljegren is averaging just under 19 minutes of ice time a night and has been a huge part of the team's penalty kill since Jake Muzzin went down. He's also contributed five points in 16 games. Meanwhile Sandin is averaging just under 18 minutes a night and has tallied nine points in 27 games. Sandin has become the quarterback on the team's power play with Rielly out of the lineup.

The duo will look to continue their strong play as the Leafs host the Kings on Thursday night.

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