After Sheldon Keefe was promoted to head coach, the Toronto Maple Leafs are now 3-0-0.
One Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman, Tyson Barrie has also improved under Keefe — scoring three goals in the last three games.
He’s scored on power play goal and two five-on-five goals. Zero with Mike Babcock, three with Keefe.
There’s plenty of ways the new head coach has made Barrie a lot more effective. Putting him on the first power play unit is definitely the biggest way to help the defenseman.
But I think what really changed his play was the mood around the team. When Babcock was around, everyone looked hopeless, including Barrie. Then once Keefe came in, the mood did a full 180.
You can tell not just by the players faces, but by the amount of goals being scored.
14 goals in the last three games.
Another big part of Barrie’s game was freedom, again which he never had under Babcock.
He had a little bit of it, where he could join the rush and come a little deeper into the offensive zone, but nothing like we’re witnessing now.
On his first goal, he brought the puck in a little, saw that nobody was pressuring him, he came in and scored. Would he be allowed to do that under Babcock? Maybe, but probably not.
Freedom makes a big difference when you’re an offensive defenseman. If you don’t have it, you’re likely not going to pinch or join the rush a lot of the time. But once you get that freedom — you turn into a brand new hockey player, like we did with Barrie.
The main part that’s helped Barrie’s game is Keefe’s systems. They’re a lot more different than Babcock’s and I think they’re a lot better suited for this team.
I think? No, they are a lot better suited for this team.
I’ve said it recently and it’s happened; “once Tyson Barrie scores one goal, he will go on a scoring rampage.” And look at him now.
If you would’ve said before the Toronto Maple Leafs’ first game under Keefe that Barrie would have three goals in each of the three games, I probably wouldn’t believe you.
I bet the team would’ve though. I think now, every player has bought into Keefe’s and the coaching staff’s systems and how they should play.
The results have shown so far that they’re working. If they can keep this up, we might even see Barrie get close to his career high in points, who knows.