Michael Bunting’s playoff got off to a terrible start, as he received a game misconduct in Game 1 in the first-round series between the Maple Leafs and the Lightning.
Michael Bunting served a three-game suspension for the high elbow hit on Erik Celnak, and when he finally returned from it, he got some unexpected news from head coach Sheldon Keefe.
In Bunting’s obscene, rookie Matthew Knies earned a place in the Leafs’ roster, and he’s been doing a great job. To not mix with the group dynamic of the team, Keefe decided to let Bunting sit out Game 5 as a healthy scratch.
“(Bunting’s) situation opened the door for someone like Matthew Knies to come in, he did a terrific job for us and the chemistry with the rest of the group makes sense,” Keefe said Wednesday. “It’s not an easy decision, because Bunts has played really good hockey for us and has been an important guy for our team. The message was that he will get back in, it’s just not going to be (Thursday).”
And maybe that was a bad call from Keefe. The Maple Leafs lost Game 5 4-2, and on social media, many claimed that Michael Bunting was just what Toronto needed in the game. Paul Bissonnette is a big fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs and has been since prior to his professional career. Today, he’s the co-host of the huge Spittin’ Chiclets podcast and regularly works as a panelist on TNT.
He’s great at pinpointing why things go as they do for the Leafs, and when he was watching Game 5, he felt that Bunting would’ve been important if he was on the ice.
”Get Bunting back in the lineup for Toronto. It was dumb he wasn’t in this game. Superstitious nonsense. 5th on team in points and ads intangibles,” he said on Twitter.
Bissonnette was critical of the decision already when it came a couple of days ago. He wrote on Twitter that he ”respect going with the same lineup,” but that Bunting adds something that Toronto is missing.
”Bunting can play. 23g during the regular season, great on the forecheck which has been non existent at times, great net front and along the walls and just an overall gamer,” he said.