Toronto Maple Leafs learn to balance defense, offense under Sheldon Keefe

TORONTO – The attack will not be a problem for the Toronto Maple Leafs moving forward. Even if the goals dry up for three or four games – as they will at some point – they will return. What will tell the story of their time, however, will be how firmly they can keep poultry out of their own net.

Once in the last 10 games, an 8-1-1 stretch, the Maple Leafs have failed to score at least four goals in a game. Six times, however, they allowed at least three goals and in the last three games, they gave up a total of 15 goals.

No matter how strong a team’s offense is, they will not overcome their defenses in April and May. However, all this is considered a good problem for coach Sheldon Keefe.

“I am very happy to be in this position simply to correct it by sitting here daily trying to figure out how to do good,” Keefe said Monday.

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Keefe has suggested that Toronto’s worrying number of goals against lately changing its mindset from structural deficiencies in its own area.

“We think we are close [to settling it], we believe that they are simple adjustments in terms of just greater awareness and greater consciousness,” Keefe said. “The hard part is when you have the offensive players who really feel it and feel they can score at any time they push a little extra. As for the adjustments we have to make, we think it’s quite simple, it’s just the mindset and the mentality. , but it actually comes out and makes it happen is different. “

When looking at how the Leafs allowed their goals in the last three games, only three of the 15 goals – Martin Necas and Erik Haula of the Carolina Hurricanes on December 23 and Nico Hischier’s goal of the New Jersey Devils on December 27 – can be attributed to full defense zones.

The rest are largely the result of spins in inappropriate situations, when they otherwise control the populace that has resulted in a rush from goal.

“Many of the issues that have arisen and cost us goals, we believe, are offensive issues, turning the coach into a bad point which means you cannot have any defensive structure,” Keefe said. “We think we overdo it a little bit in offense and then you leave yourself exposed. Every time we are in our defensive structure, we think we have done a good job. our structure that was our problem. “

Moving forward for Toronto, we are now going to learn to manage the puck more effectively and realize when it is time to push for a game and when to go deep and live to fight another day when a game does not there to be.

“I don’t think we are giving up much of our defensive zone in the circle. In a hurry, these are the chances of giving up how active we are in the offensive zone,” Mitch Marner said. “Forwards we have to realize that we have to come back and play this defensive position sometimes, but it’s not always going to be perfect with our kids back. We play really well with the mouse and this is annoying teams and makes us we feel better. Rush is our only problem really right now. “

But at this point, don’t expect the Maple Leafs to ever become a defensive team capable of locking up games and winning 2-1 in regulation. Ideally, Keefe said he would like Toronto to play as high an event as possible when it comes to creating as low and as low an event as possible. He said it really is no different than any other group.

The difference with the Leafs is that, while ordinary wisdom suggests leaning in the direction of keeping the net out of your net, it will lean toward an additional goal.

“If we were maybe a little different, we would accept the fact that the way we play is going to give up some things and sometimes when you create a great offensive opportunity it can let you expose the other way and that’s where we need to bridge that hole, “Keefe said.

In other words, players get the green light to get a chance to play a game more often than not. Few teams work that way. Will it work? Only time will tell.

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