Sheldon Keefe calls out Matthews and Marner after an ugly loss in Game 6

Published May 30, 2021 at 11:18

When the Toronto Maple Leafs led the Montreal Canadiens 3-1 in their first-round series, almost everyone who cared about the outcome expected the Leafs would advance to the second round. The series is currently tied at 3 with the climactic and deciding Game 7 due to take place in Toronto on Monday, with the Habs having stitched together back-to-back OT victory with their never-quit attitude.

The Maple Leafs led each of the first 5 games in just about every major metric that there is, with Carey Price being the primary reason why the Habs remained in the series at all, having responded very well to the high-volume of quality scoring chances against in the early going, but especially after tough losses in games 2 and 4.

Through all of the pressure and all of the adversity that the Habs had faced in this series, they continued to increase their intensity and kept their foot on the gas through games 5 and 6, winning each contest in overtime, despite being overwhelmingly outshot in the latter. In short, the team has just seemingly become tougher to put away as the series has progressed.

On Saturday, following the Leafs' toughest loss of the series, head coach Sheldon Keefe addressed the media where he said something very telling about where his group's mindset is right now.

"As the games have gotten harder, Montreal's played better. We haven't dealt with it well," said Keefe, alluding to his team's inability to find that next level of intensity that is so important for teams to hold onto come playoff time.

In both games 5 and 6, the Habs started hard and fast, while the Leafs seemed adamant about sticking to their more methodical and calculated puck-possession game. Part of the problem with that methodology was that the Habs were consistently outworking and outpacing the Leafs, forcing turnovers and generating a lot more opportunities. It wasn't until midway through the third period that the Leafs seemed to match or exceed that level of intensity and take the game over near the end of the third and the entire overtime period, until Jesperi Kotkaniemi snapped home the game-winner.

If the Leafs want to have any hope of breaking through into round two, they're going to have to put forth a more concerted effort at both ends of the ice from whistle to whistle and match or exceed that same level of intensity throughout a full 60 minutes against the Habs. If they don't, I fear that we're going to witness yet another early postseason exit for the Buds in 2020-21.

May 30   |   268 answers
Sheldon Keefe calls out Matthews and Marner after an ugly loss in Game 6

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