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Who’s the Maple Leafs’ Most Physical Forward? Try Joe Thornton

Although Joe Thornton is putting up great numbers, his head coach Sheldon Keefe is happy with his play. What’s he doing well?

Prior to the surprising loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday night, Toronto Maple Leafs’ head coach Sheldon Keefe was speaking to reporters about where the team was at the present time. Keefe noted that, that despite their lack of offensive production, he’s happy with the contributions for both Joe Thornton and Wayne Simmonds.

Related: Former Maple Leafs’ Patrick Marleau Ties Gordie Howe’s NHL Record!

A Little Bit More Offense Is Always Good, But …

It wasn’t as if Keefe didn’t want more production from both Thornton and Simmonds, because more production is always a benefit. That said, Keefe noted that the twosome’s lack of production was in part tied to the way he’s been utilizing them as a coach. Interestingly, recently he’s had Thornton and Simmonds playing with another “oldie” Jason Spezza on the team’s fourth line. They dominated play while they were on the ice tonight, but didn’t score.

Joe Thornton Maple Leafs
Joe Thornton, Maple Leafs

Keefe noted that “their (Thornton and Simmonds) roles and how I’m utilizing them has shifted a little bit in a last little while;” however, he does “like how they’ve adapted to that (shift in roles).”

Related: Teams Complaining to NHL About Leafs, Others Making 3-Team Trades

What Joe Thornton Brings? How He’s Adjusted His Game

Keefe noted that, “I think Joe in particular has really adjusted his game and I think he’s … been our most physical forward in our last few games.” Keefe also commented that Thornton was “just making really good efficient simple plays advancing the puck.”

Keefe noted that he’s been happy with Thornton’s play. Obviously, he noted again that as a coach he’d like to see their production pick up a little bit more. However, Keefe tied part of the  problem with the team’s production was “directly linked to the power play” and “when the power play hasn’t been going very well for anybody and when that’s not happening it tends to leak into your five-on-five game as well.”

When Thornton scores his next goal as a Maple Leafs’ player, he’ll be the eldest player ever to score while wearing the Maple Leafs crest.

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