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Phil Kessel of the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrates with Tyler Bozak and James van Riemsdyk after scoring a goal in the second period during a game against the New York Islanders at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on October 21, 2014 in Uniondale, New York. The Leafs have dismantled their top line in an effort to improve their offence.Alex Goodlett/Getty Images

Eight games in and the line that scored more points together than all but one other in the NHL last season is no more.

Yes, the Toronto Maple Leafs have given Phil Kessel a new home – this time alongside Joffrey Lupul and Nazem Kadri.

As a result, Kessel's former linemates, James van Riemsdyk and Tyler Bozak, were gifted with a new face on their right wing: David Clarkson.

The switcheroo came at practice on Monday after the Leafs laid an egg on the weekend against the Bruins, a 4-1 loss that looked a lot worse than the score indicated.

Those changes then left coach Randy Carlyle using a third line of Leo Komarov, Mike Santorelli and Dan Winnik that should be able to fill a shutdown role.

"I mean things weren't working, you know?" Bozak said. "We were too inconsistent as a team. And throughout a long season like this changes are going to be made at times. They're going to try different combinations to see if it creates a spark or something different."

"We're not really happy with our production 5-on-5," Carlyle said. "Those things happen. Hopefully it stimulates some more offence from our group."

The problem facing the Leafs with their forwards isn't a new one. A top line of JVR – Bozak – Kessel isn't very good defensively and gets picked apart by other team's top lines. Even when they do produce, at even strength, they're often giving back as much or more at the other end.

That's not a recipe for success in the NHL.

The question of who takes those tough assignments doesn't have an easy answer either, not with the way Toronto is built down the middle. Carlyle doesn't trust Kadri to handle those duties, and the fourth line basically only exists in theory.

That leaves the offence-first first line and the checkers and there are more tough minutes than a third line can handle alone.

Not helping matters is the fact the Leafs have the worst zone start percentage (39.8 per cent) in the league, meaning there are a lot more difficult starts to shifts to give out than normal.

The Leafs have a lot of issues beyond line combinations, but this is an easy change to make.

With the bottom feeding Buffalo Sabres in town on Tuesday, it's also a good time to experiment with some different approaches – although Carlyle was hardly conceding that point going in.

"I look at the Buffalo Sabres going into San Jose and beating them 2-1," he said quickly. "That's what I look at...

"We are not in any position to take anybody lightly. We have to muster all the inner strength that we have to put a performance on that we can be proud of."

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