Top 11 Reasons This Year Is Different for the Toronto Maple Leafs

Feb 7, 2022; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mitchell Marner (16) celebrates his game tying goal against the Carolina Hurricanes during the third period at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 7, 2022; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mitchell Marner (16) celebrates his game tying goal against the Carolina Hurricanes during the third period at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports /
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May 8, 2021; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe speaks to his players as forward Pierre Engvall (47) and forward Jason Spezza (19) and forward Wayne Simmonds (24) listen during the third period against the Montreal Canadiens at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
May 8, 2021; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs head   Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports /

#5. Sheldon Keefe

The ultimate players’ coach is Sheldon Keefe. He’s honest, and fair, and his players love him.

He is also a very strong tactician who has proven to be among the NHL’s coaching elite.  Since being hired in 2019, Sheldon Keefe has put together one of the best records in history.

Of NHL coaches with at least 100 NHL games behind the bench, Sheldon Keefe has the second highest winning percentage of all time.

In parts of three seasons as the Leafs coach, he has a .670 points-percentage, which is basically President’s Trophy Level.

In the playoffs, the Leafs may have lost, but Keefe’s coaching allowed them to post 11 straight games with a positive expected-goals rating.  It is not Keefe’s fault that his all-time great offense went ice-cold in two consecutive series.

You can’t blame Keefe for Columbus setting a playoff series save percentage record.

You can’t blame Keefe for Tavares, Matthews and Marner combing for one goal in seven games against Montreal.

It’s not Keefe’s fault that Matthews couldn’t shoot the puck, that Tavares got kicked in the head, that Foligno could hardly walk, or that Hyman was down to just one leg.

And it sure isn’t his fault that his team made an NHL record two-straight multi goal comebacks to force OT and didn’t win either.  You can’t blame him that  a knuckle-puck beat his goalie from 80 feet out, after his team just outshot them 12-1 in overtime.

In fact, the single worst hockey take I have ever heard is that Keefe was somehow “outcoached” in the playoffs.  That’s only true if you believe there is no need for analysis that that the final score tells you everything you need to know.

Keefe is a strength for the Leafs and having him behind the bench will help them advance.