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Brodie healthy scratch for Maple Leafs’ game

Defenseman TJ Brodie’s struggles led him to the press box for Wednesday’s game.

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Defenseman TJ Brodie’s struggles led him to the press box for Wednesday’s game.

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Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe told reporters in Washington, before the second of consecutive contests, that Brodie was sitting. The 33-year-old from Dresden has not had a healthy scratch this season or any other in Toronto, missing just one other game this year, with an illness that took him out of the Dec. 16 games against Pittsburgh.

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“I just think it’s an opportunity for us to give him a little bit of time off, lighten the workload a bit here,” Keefe said. “He hasn’t been at his best for most of the season.”

Brodie had no goals and 18 assists in 66 games, and although currently a plus-14, he was coming off back-to-back games of minus-two, was culpable on other opposition opportunities and hasn’t been as active in the rush . His regular pairing with Morgan Rielly has not been effective and while Rielly has had some success elsewhere in the lineup, efforts to find the left-shooting Brodie the right mix on either side in multiple tandems, including new defensemen, have not been successful.

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Defenseman Conor Timmins was activated for Wednesday after going down with mononucleosis a few weeks ago as Ilya Lyubushkin remained unable to play with a suspected flu bug.

The other lineup change Wednesday saw winger Noah Gregor come in for Ryan Reaves. After an unprovoked fight with Nicolas Deslauriers during the 4-3 loss in Philadelphia Tuesday, Reaves left the box with swelling around his right eye.

On Wednesday, Auston Matthews almost had another hat trick in Toronto’s 7-3 romp over the Capitals at Capital One Arena in Washington.

The deuce put league-leader Matthews at 57 in his quest for 70 and to beat his club record.

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