Toronto Maple Leafs learning to balance defense, offensive under Sheldon Keefe


TORONTO – The offense will not be a problem for the Toronto Maple Leafs to move forward. Even if the goals run out for three or four games, as they will at some point, they will return. However, what the story of their season will tell will be how consistently they can keep the album out of their own network.

Only once in the last 10 games, a period in which they went 8-1-1, the Maple Leafs failed to score at least four goals in a game. Six times, however, they have allowed at least three goals and in their last three games, they have rendered 15 goals in total.

No matter how powerful a team's offense is, they will not overcome their failures in defense in April and May. However, considering all this, this is a good problem for head coach Sheldon Keefe.

"I'm much happier to be in that position of having to fix that than sitting here every day trying to figure out how the hell we're going to score a goal," Keefe said Monday.

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Keefe suggested that Toronto's alarming number of goals in recent times has more to do with altering his mentality than structural deficiencies in his own area.

"We believe we are close (to solve it), we believe they are easy adjustments in terms of being more aware and more aware," Keefe said. "The hard part is when you have players so offensive that they really feel it and feel that they can score anytime they press a little more." In terms of adjustments that we must make, we believe that it is quite simple, it is only the mentality and the mentality, but going out and making it happen is different. "

By observing how the Leafs have allowed goals in the last three games, only three of the 15: the goals of Carolina Hurricanes Martin Necas and Erik Haula on December 23 and the goal of Nico Hischier of the New Jersey Devils on December 27 can attributed to breakdowns of the entire defensive zone.

The rest is largely the result of turnovers in inopportune situations when otherwise you have control of the disc that has taken the goals out of the race.

"Many of our problems that arose and cost us goals against us, we believe that they are offensive problems, turning the disc into a bad place, which means that you cannot have any defensive structure," Keefe said. "We believe he is exaggerating a bit on the offensive and then you leave yourself exposed. Every time we have been in our structure on the defensive, we believe we have done a good job. When we are in attack, it is the few seconds after that before that we can enter our defensive structure, that has been our problem. "

In the future for Toronto, it is now about learning to handle the disk more effectively and realizing when it is time to press to make a play and when it is time to deepen and live to fight another day when there is no move. to be made.

"I don't think we're giving up much in our defensive zone outside the cycle." Out of trouble, those are the chances that we will give up on how active we are in the offensive zone, "said Mitch Marner." As forward we have to realize that we have to go back and play that defensive position sometimes, but It won't always be perfect with our guys back. "We're playing a lot with the record and that's an annoying team and it makes us feel better. Out of trouble is our only problem really at the moment."

However, at this point, don't expect the Maple Leafs to become a defensively stingy team capable of blocking the games and winning 2-1 on a regulatory basis. Ideally, Keefe said he would like Toronto to play the highest possible event when it comes to generating opportunities and the lowest possible event when it comes to the generation opportunities of his opponent. He said that it really is no different than most other teams.

The difference with the Leafs is that, while conventional wisdom always suggests leaning to keep the disc out of their net, they will lean toward an extra goal.

"Where maybe we are a little different is that we would be accepting the fact that the way we are going to play is going to give up some things and, sometimes, when you create a great offensive opportunity, it can leave you exposed in another way." and that's where we have to plug that hole, "Keefe said.

In other words, players have been given the green light to have the opportunity to make a play more often than not. Few teams operate like this. It will work? Only time will tell.