Prior to the Toronto Maple Leafs handing a beating to the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday night by a 4-0 score, Maple Leafs’ head coach Sheldon Keefe went on record as saying that, even after the small winning streak the team was on, the team was seeking consistency and “I don’t think we’re close yet.”
There are Signs of Life, But Not Quite Yet
Coach Keefe gets it that the team is starting to show signs of life, but he believes they still have a lot of work to do. Keefe also believes the team is starting to play better; however, he believed the team could get to another level. It’s starting to happen, but it isn’t there yet.
In the Sportsnet Video, Keefe Explained His Concerns
“We’re seeking consistency,” Keefe said after the Leafs’ optional morning skate at Scotiabank Arena. “I don’t think we’re close yet (to where he wants the team to be).
“We’ve shown signs of life, but we’ve got another level to get to. Through camp and preseason, we felt really good where we were. A lot of the habits and things that we established last season were showing through.
“Since we started playing the games for real, they haven’t been at the same level. Part of that is us, part of that is the opponent and the competition pushing back.”
After the Win Against the Golden Knights, Are The Maple Leafs Closer?
As Keefe reflected on the win over the Golden Knights, he noted that his team (finally) had some production from the team’s big guns. Until very recently, both of the team’s two top players had struggled. Auston Matthews, who had scored only one goal in his previous games, scored two more goals. Mitch Marner, who had also been in a scoring slump, contributed three points on a goal and two assists.
Goalie Jack Campbell made 26 saves to register his first shutout of the 2021-22 season. It was his third shutout in a Maple Leafs’ uniform and the fifth shutout of his career.
Coach Keefe weighed in on the team’s improved play. “I thought right from the start we took control of the game, and I thought we maintained that all the way through. We were good on special teams; the goaltending was certainly more indicative of what we think we’re capable of.”
Keefe’s comments give a sense of what “hasn’t been close, yet.” First, the team’s top stars are not scoring. Second, the goaltending hasn’t been up to par. Third, the team couldn’t take control of the game and hold onto it.
Against the Golden Knights, they did better.
Two Big Games Are Coming Around the Corner
When the Maple Leafs meet the Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning tonight, they’ll put their own three-game winning streak against the three-game winning streak the Lightning bring into the game. The Lightning won at home on Monday night over the Washington Capitals by a score of 3-2.
After the Lightning leave, the Boston Bruins are on their way to Scotiabank Arena. That will be another big test for this Maple Leafs’ team. Will they be closer to the consistent team that Keefe believes they can be by Saturday night late?
Three more days and Maple Leafs’ will know.
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