The Maple Leafs are asking John Klingberg for more. He’s struggling to do it

The Maple Leafs are asking John Klingberg for more. He’s struggling to do it

John Klingberg didn’t leave the Toronto Maple Leafs bench again after the Ottawa Senators scored their fifth goal on Wednesday night.

He sat and watched the final seven minutes of his team’s fifth loss in the last six games.

Klingberg played less than 16 minutes in all, a season low. He was still on the ice and negatively involved in four goals against.

It was the low point of what’s been a rough start to the season for Klingberg and for the Leafs. Klingberg has been on the ice for a team-high 14 five-on-five goals against in 13 games.

Asked if he was concerned about Klingberg after the latest game, Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe replied with a simple yes.

“We need to protect him better,” a fiery Keefe said.

The problem? The Leafs were trying to protect Klingberg plenty before Timothy Liljegren suffered a high ankle sprain in Boston last week. After initially slotting him on their second pair (to disastrous effect) to begin the season, the Leafs lightened his load considerably. They cut his minutes and eased his competition by placing him on their third pair. They protected him as much as they possibly could by stuffing him in the offensive zone.

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