Keefe: “When teams play the Leafs, they set up the game for the Leafs to beat themselves”

Photo credit:John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Alex Hobson
1 month ago
The Toronto Maple Leafs’ series against their biggest playoff demon of recent memory, the Boston Bruins, ended the same way life would have it end – with an overtime loss in Game 7.
The Leafs were hit with a bombshell before the game, with the announcement that Ilya Samsonov would be starting the game following the news of Joseph Woll’s injury at the end of Game 6. For the most part, Samsonov delivered a good effort, but the way the game shifted following the Leafs’ initial breaking of the ice instantly overshadowed anything there was to be said about his performance up until that point.
What hurt them even more than the game-tying goal minutes after the Leafs opened the scoring was the way the overtime winner went down. David Pastrnak, who was called out by Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery following Game 6, ended up in all alone on Samsonov less than two minutes into overtime. For a team that played a pretty solid game defensively, although not leaving much to be said about their offensive game, the game ended on a play that comes off as the equivalent of shooting yourself in the foot.
Head coach Sheldon Keefe addressed this following the game, pretty much echoing the sentiment word for word.
While there’s certainly something to be said about how the Leafs beat themselves not only in overtime but in Games 1, 3, and 4, it’s a bit of a telling quote coming from the guy whose job is to have his team prepared for situations like this. Keefe had his moments throughout the series, but to essentially throw your team under the bus and admit that they succumb to their own flaws when the stakes are highest shines a negative light on his ability as a coach.
The Leafs had a legitimate opportunity to turn the tables on the biggest demon hanging over their head while they were battling demons of their own. Boston was facing the possibility of being the first team in pro sports to blow a 3-1 series lead in back-to-back years, but like the story has played out so many other times before, the Leafs couldn’t get it done.
While Keefe is about to enter an extension he signed this summer, it wouldn’t be shocking to see his throne heat up rapidly. It’s been insinuated recently that there will be changes should the Leafs fail to close out the series, and there’s an entire summer ahead to see if that belief comes to light.

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