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Sheldon Keefe and Maple Leafs Continue Wild Roller Coaster Ride

Maple Leafs consistency

Despite roster changes happening on the fly this week, the Leafs have strung two wins together with a couple of easy games on the horizon. After the five-game suspension issued to Morgan Rielly the Maple Leafs have had to buckle down more than ever on defence. To make things even more difficult, an illness hit John Tavares, Mitch Marner, and William Nylander. Luckily all three bounced back enough to play in the Thursday night overtime victory against the Philadelphia Flyers. One guess who sniped the OT-winning goal. Yep, it was Willy Styles after a simple, yet perfect pass from Timothy Liljegren. The Maple Leafs now look for more consistency.

Sheldon Keefe and Maple Leafs Continue to Look for Consistency

After an exceptional victory against the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday, Sheldon Keefe and the Maple Leafs expected to do more of the same at puck drop vs. Philly. This was not the case. Toronto failed to take care of the little things and for some shifts, forgot to take care of the big things. While on a Leafs power play, they lost a three-on-one puck battle in the D-Zone while leaving Travis Sanheim all alone to walk around Ilya Samsonov and open the scoring short-handed. Sean Couturier and the Philadelphia Flyers are a force to be reckoned with and it showed. Compared to the prior game where Toronto played with such fire, it was tough to see them chasing, losing puck battles, and missing passes. The only relief for this inconsistency, knowing the 2nd period would be much different.

A Natural Hat Trick for Auston Matthews

Halfway through the 2nd, Mitch Marner found the puck on his stick and quickly laced it up to A-Matts who tied the game 1-1. The show was not over as the Big Cactus continued to make Samuel Ersson look like he was made out of Swiss cheese scoring two more from the dot and the high slot. When asked what was able to turn the momentum around after the first period, Nylander told reporters:

Matty scores three goals, he’s the best goal scorer in the league, so I don’t know what else to tell ya (William Nylander February 15, 2024).

Hats Fly Again at Scotiabank Arena, Toronto

Hats were flying once again in Scotia Bank (Bobby McMann got his first hat trick the previous game). Next it was time to hop back on the roller coaster to give the Flyers a chance to make things interesting in the third. Big shock, Philly tied the game in the final minutes. A quick OT goal by Willy and we skate away with smiles.

The Toronto Maple Leafs Must Hop Off the Roller Coaster

Changing up the lines slightly will put the buds on a solid trajectory. Toronto must allow the best players in the NHL to thrive in the offensive zone. Tyler Bertuzzi needs to be somebody or ride the pines. This last performance was nothing but turnovers. A good example: Simon Benoit wins Toronto the biscuit behind the net and gets it to Bertuzzi. He takes it coast to coast (first positive play all game), then he sends it to Philly’s defence around the boards with no Leaf in sight. If Sammy was put on waivers, why not Bertuzzi? Seeing a spark of life from younger, hungrier guys like Bobby McMann, Sheldon should continue to tweak lines. This should continue further until the results are consistent. John Tavares and William Nylander need a linemate who creates opportunities and capitalizes on the ones he is given.

Sheldon Keefe and Maple Leaf Nation Looks Ahead

Toronto’s next game is at home against the Anaheim Ducks. No doubt, the Maple Leaf win streak should continue. The real test begins when the Buds head west to take on the Blues, Coyotes, Golden Knights, and Avalanche. Morgan Rielly, will take to the ice halfway through the next road trip. Rielly will be a welcome set of fresh legs on the blue line. He is sure to make a significant impact on the team’s performance. Let’s hope Sheldon Keefe and the Maple Leafs are able to turn this roller coaster into a Toronto freight train moving forward. Go Leafs Go!

Main Photo Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports


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