Sheldon Keefe Calls Toronto Maple Leafs "Careless" In Loss to the Devils

The New Jersey Devils kept their playoff hopes alive last night against the injury-riddled Toronto Maple Leafs. While the Devils are fighting for their playoff lives, the Toronto Maple Leafs have all but locked up a playoff spot, but that is no excuse for how poorly they played in the last 40 minutes of this game after dominating the Devils in the first period.

Toronto Maple Leafs v New Jersey Devils
Toronto Maple Leafs v New Jersey Devils / Elsa/GettyImages

The Toronto Maple Leafs came out firing on all cylinders on Tuesday night against the Devils, putting up 25 shots and 10 high-danger chances in the first period. The Leafs ended up down 2-1 after the first period thanks to Devils goaile Jake Allen.

It appeared that the Toronto Maple Leafs would keep this momentum going after rattling off two goals in the first five minutes of the second period to take a 3-2 lead. But the collapse began no less than a minute later when David Kamph lost Timo Meier in the slot alone to tie the game at threes.

Following that goal, the Maple Leafs would go on to give up three more goals for a total of four unanswered.

All of these goals were a direct result of a lack of effort or just a careless mistake. Max Willman scored the fourth goal on a rebound. When this goal went in the net, there were four Maple Leafs in the slot and not one of them had a body on a red jersey leaving Willman a free goal on the doorstep. On the fifth goal, Jack Hughes scored on a breakaway, following a careless turnover from Max Domi in the offensive zone.

Sheldon Keefe Unleashes On Toronto Maple Leafs Core Players

The final empty net goal just emphasized the lack of effort in this game, the Devils dumped the puck the length of the ice for what usually would be icing, but the Maple Leafs had nobody back to chase the puck down. Cutis Lazar beat Timothy Liljegren to the puck to keep the play alive and passed the puck behind the net to Jack Hughes who then tucked the puck in the back of the Maple Leafs net past John Tavares who was standing in front of the net doing nothing but watch the whole thing happen.

You didn't need to wait for Sheldon Keefe's press conference to know he was upset with that performance, just about every time he was shown on the broadcast he was yelling at someone or something. But clearly, his message was not resonating with his players on the ice, so he decided to make his message clearer to the media in his post-game press conference with some strong words.

Auston Matthews and William Nylander both echoed Sheldon Keefe's sentiment when talking to the media post game.

Now it was not just John Tavares who had a rough night, the entire team was playing careless hockey tonight. Despite outshooting the Devils by 20, the Maple Leafs gave up a handful of unacceptable scoring chances which did not help their goaltender Joseph Woll who had another rough night.

Joseph Woll Struggles Again In Maple Leafs Loss To The Devils

Woll started back-to-back games for the Maple Leafs for the first time since returning from injury, and despite how well he ended up playing against the Hurricanes, he let the first shot of the game in and did the same thing last night against the Devils. This also came up in Keefe's post-game press conference who was not impressed.

"You can’t let in the first shot of the game. That’s two in a row now. But the chances we gave up tonight are egregious. There’s lots of issues in front of him."

Regardless of the 'egregious' chances the Maple Leafs gave up, Woll still struggled, he finished the game with a -2.63 goals saved above expected. Since returning from injury he has a .884 save percentage . (via NaturalStatTrick).

We have yet to see that consistent Joseph Woll that we saw before the injury which is terrifying as Ilya Samsonov did not dress again tonight and there are only 12 games left in the regular season. To be fair to Woll he has not been back long enough to find a rhythm yet, But if the Maple Leafs plan on having any success in the playoffs they need either Woll or Samsonov to step up and make big saves.

The Maple Leafs will have a chance to bounce back from this loss against the Washington Capitals on Thursday night on home ice.