Explaining the Maple Leafs’ plan for Spezza and Gauthier

  • Two centres, one line.
  • Until further notice, Jason Spezza and Frederik Gauthier will be playing the same position on the Toronto Maple Leafs’ fourth unit.
  • Here’s the plan: Spezza, the righty, will take draws on his strong side.
  • Gauthier, the lefty, will do the same on his.
  • First man in the zone plays down low, and the other is responsible for the flank.
  • Both will see time on the penalty kill to help win critical D-zone draws —
  • A glaring weakness of last year’s edition of the Maple Leafs that was exposed by the Boston Bruins at playoff time.
  • And the one with 915 NHL points could see shifts on the second power-play unit.

“I’ve kinda played that way my whole career,” Spezza explained Saturday, before the Leafs lost 5-3 to the Sabres in pre-season action. “In Ottawa, I played with [Milan] Michalek for a long time. We just didn’t talk about it. He played down low a lot for certain times. In Dallas last year in [the] playoffs, I played with Justin Dowling — we did it the exact same way. I think it’s a pretty common thing that goes on. Through my best years with Alfie [winger Daniel Alfredsson], he played low a lot.

“It’s really a matter of getting up to speed with the guy you’re doing it with, because there’s little switches throughout the game you want to work on. Freddie seems to have great hockey sense. The quicker we get on the same page, the faster we’ll look as a line.”

Source & Credit: Luke Fox, Sportsnet
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