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HomeUncategorizedMaple Leafs take positives from sloppy season-opening victory

Maple Leafs take positives from sloppy season-opening victory

TORONTO – Sheldon Keefe left Scotiabank Area happy with the consequence.

The Maple Leafs head coach was additionally far much less enthused about how his staff acquired there.

Upon additional reflection, nonetheless, and after breaking down the video, Keefe noticed plenty of positives in Toronto’s wild 6-5 shootout victory over the Montreal Canadiens to open the 2023-24 season.

“We did plenty of actually good issues in that sport that have been spoiled with some large errors,” Keefe mentioned after Friday’s observe. “It took away plenty of the great issues that we did, however I believe these issues are fixable.

“Very fixable, the truth is.”

It additionally does not take away from the very fact these errors nonetheless occurred.

Toronto trailed 2-0 early after which 5-3 because of some egregious giveaways and breakdowns earlier than Auston Matthews, who grew to become the quickest participant in franchise historical past to achieve 300 objectives, accomplished his hat trick by scoring twice with Leafs netminder Ilya Samsonov on the bench for an additional attacker late within the third interval.

“We had plenty of actually good sequences, good carrying play, and doing plenty of good issues,” he mentioned. “After which you’ve one or two issues which can be evident errors that lose momentum, lose management, after which issues slip from there.

“You make errors, you open the sport up for the opposition. Now you are typically on the ice drained, defending drained, and then you definately make errors inside that.”

Toronto, which hosts the Minnesota Wild on Saturday, has struggled in October the final two seasons, going a mixed 8-8-3 earlier than discovering a groove and ending with 115- and 111-point campaigns.

With these previous early points in thoughts, the membership seemed to vary a few of its coaching camp and pre-season plans, together with giving extra relaxation days.

“By no means an ideal formulation,” Leafs captain John Tavares mentioned. “One thing that is all the time evolving and all the time altering. The blokes in right here perceive it, too. We take into consideration these issues as we mirror on a 12 months or we’re preparing for an additional one – making an attempt to be higher and making an attempt to develop.

“We all know (October) hasn’t been the best the final couple of years. We perceive making an attempt to be within the second. However you additionally know the massive image.”

Toronto defenceman John Klingberg, who had two assists in his debut after signing in free company, mentioned the staff is conscious of the strain factors the place it could actually enhance.

“You are coping with the errors and the great issues,” he mentioned. “We addressed that as we speak and transfer on.”

The conversations have been much more optimistic than Keefe anticipated.

“Some issues for us to scrub up,” he mentioned. “However there was far more good within the sport than, frankly, I used to be anticipating.”


The blueliner sat out an enormous chunk of pre-season with an upper-body harm, however did not miss a beat within the opener.

Klingberg fed Noah Gregor for Toronto’s first aim to chop the deficit to 2-1 after which served a one-timer on a platter for William Nylander’s 3-2 aim on a person benefit.

“Mindset of coming in and making an attempt to play a easy sport,” he mentioned. “Going to attempt to construct on that.”

Occupying the position of distributor on a proficient No. 1 power-play unit that options Matthews, Nylander, Tavares and Mitch Marner, the Swede has been impressed with first-year assistant Man Boucher’s method to the Leafs’ system.

“Introduced in some issues that make plenty of sense,” Klingberg mentioned. “It has been an eye-opener.”


Ryan Reaves dropped the gloves with Montreal defenceman Arber Xhekaj in Wednesday’s first interval.

The Leafs enforcer needs a rematch.

The six-foot-two, 226-pound Reaves pasted Montreal blueliner Kaiden Guhle into the boards and was rapidly met by the six-foot-four, 240-pound Xhekaj – too rapidly, within the Toronto winger’s eyes.

“I do not like getting jumped,” Reaves mentioned. “I do not know if I’ve ever actually jumped anyone. If you wish to battle, simply ask.

“I am all the time round. the place to search out me.”

The fisticuffs ended with Xhekaj pushing Reaves into Montreal’s internet earlier than the pair tumbled to the ice.

“I do not know if he did it on objective to finish it,” Reaves mentioned. “As soon as I stood up and he had a seize of me, he simply tried pushing me the remainder of the way in which. Felt prefer it was on objective.”

Any rematch can be months within the making. The Leafs and Canadiens do not play once more till March 9 on the Bell Centre.

“We have got them two extra instances,” Reaves mentioned. “I am positive one thing would possibly occur.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first printed Oct. 13, 2023.

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