Photo credit:John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Keefe: Leafs have played to their potential in ‘about 50 percent’ of their games
By Mike Gould14 days ago
As they put on full display against the New York Islanders on Monday night, the Toronto Maple Leafs have all the talent in the world but can be maddeningly inconsistent from game to game — and from shift to shift.
The Leafs have meandered out to a 25-15-8 start to the 2023-24 season, certainly enough to keep them in the playoff picture but not quite “safe” at this point. They gave up two more critical points to Pierre Engvall and the New York Islanders last night.
Even with Auston Matthews chugging along at his very best and William Nylander in the midst of a career-best season (recent cold stretch notwithstanding), fans are understandably a little concerned about the team’s overall play.
Head coach Sheldon Keefe, who has come under his fair share of scrutiny of late, attempted to answer for his team’s inconsistency on Tuesday. The Athletic‘s Jonas Siegel shared the transcript of Keefe’s response to social media.
“We’ve got a good team here. We’ve got good players,” Keefe said. “As a coaching staff, we need to do a better job with them and work with them and help them recognize our own goal in getting the team to play to its potential.
“I think we’ve done that, I would say, about 50 percent of the games — we’ve been really good,” Keefe continued. “That’s not enough. That’s not enough in the NHL.”
It’s safe to say that Monday’s game against the Islanders doesn’t fall into the “really good” category. The Leafs outshot the Islanders 36-29 but gave up a “pee-wee” breakaway goal to Kyle MacLean and a back-breaking go-ahead tally to Engvall late in the third.
The Leafs currently sit tied for fourth place in the Atlantic Division with the Detroit Red Wings with 58 points in 48 games. They’re just one point back of the Tampa Bay Lightning but way behind both the Boston Bruins and Florida Panthers in the divisional playoff picture.
Keefe will presumably be back behind the bench when the Leafs return to action to take on the Dallas Stars at Scotiabank Arena on Toronto on Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. ET.
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