Sheldon Keefe Says Maple Leafs Looking At Lineup Changes For Game 6

The Toronto Maple Leafs suffered their 11th straight loss in a potential series-clinching game over the past decade, and their collars are getting a little tighter with their series lead over the Tampa Bay Lightning down to 3-2 now. 

Head coach Sheldon Keefe admits he is looking at changing things up for Game 6 Saturday night, going with a different lineup than the one that's been mostly outplayed for the balance of each of the last three games (despite the two overtime victories). First up, is the decision on whether to put 23-goal scorer Michael Bunting back into the mix after sitting out his 4th straight game (three due to suspension).

Keefe noted, in an understatement, “He’d bring energy." The key is focusing that energy in the right way. The coach continued on the energy theme as it relates to Bunting. "In both how he plays and also the fact he hasn’t played. As the series goes on, it weighs on everybody, the grind that it is. So having a guy who hasn’t played (since Game 1) come in can give us a boost.”

In addition, Keefe left open the possibility of going with a 7th defenseman and going with an 11-and-7. Adding another D-man to take some of the load off beleaguered Justin Holl certainly couldn't hurt. Holl has been on the ice for 14 of the Bolts' 19 goals in this series; at 5-on-5, the Leafs have been outscored 9-2 with Holl on the ice. 

And yes, when Holl is on the bench, the Leafs are outscoring Tampa 18-4 in the series. 

Keefe says that injuries are also a consideration when figuring out the lineup for Game 6. Maybe, hope Leaf fans, Justin Holl comes down with a mysterious "injury" to keep him out of the mix. 

Photo: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports