Toronto Maple Leafs fans enter this weekend’s back-to-back games frustrated and (some fans are) worried their team might not make the postseason. However, despite the team’s recent defensive challenges and lack of depth scoring that have turned many fans toward the most negative, Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe remains optimistic about his team’s future.
Perhaps that’s talk, but there are a few things that Maple Leafs fans should have in the plus column about this team. William Nylander is on fire at the start of the season. Auston Matthews is on an unheard-of goal-a-game pace and might get 50 goals in 50 games. John Tavares is still producing at a point-a-game clip. And defenseman Morgan Rielly is playing well.
What Does Head Coach Sheldon Keefe Have to Say?
In a recent interview (you can watch below), Keefe highlighted several key factors that should give Maple Leafs fans reasons to be hopeful. In this post, I’ll share three of the reasons to be optimistic that Coach Keefe talks about in the video.
Reason One for Maple Leafs Optimism: There’s Been a Defensive Turnaround
Keefe candidly acknowledged the team’s struggles on the defensive end, particularly in preventing goals. However, he was quick to note a significant shift in the team’s defensive efforts, especially in the last couple of games.
“We’ve turned the corner regarding our defensive efforts, especially in the last couple of games. Recent matches have showcased some of the best hockey we’ve played,” Keefe stated, signalling a positive trajectory in their defensive performance.
Reason Two for Maple Leafs Optimism: The Third Line Is Coming Around
One notable positive development is the emergence of a potent third line. The line is made up of center Max Domi, winger Calle Jarnkrok, and the newly promoted Nick Robertson who is up from the Marlies. This line has held its ground and actively contributed to offensive chances.
Keefe was pleased that, finally, the team had a third line holding their head above water and carrying the play. The scoring chances are coming and he sees that as a stark improvement. It was a positive sign for him that the team’s lines were finding their rhythm.
Reason Three for Maple Leafs Optimism: The Team is More Composed In Its Approach
While defensive statistics might not fully capture recent positive trends, Keefe believed there was a change in the team’s defensive approach. The team had shifted from feeling overwhelmed earlier in the season to feeling much more composed and competitive in recent games. For him, that signified a positive evolution.
“Defensively, we’re not getting overwhelmed in the same way as before. Despite the numbers, I see things trending in the right direction. We’re making fewer mistakes and in control of more aspects of the game,” Keefe added during the video interview.
The Bottom Line Reasons for Maple Leafs Optimism
In conclusion, Keefe’s insights provide Maple Leafs fans with reasons to be optimistic. With a renewed defensive focus, a potent third line, and a composed style of play, the team is ready to build on these positive developments as the season progresses.
We’ll see how they do tonight.