Sheldon Keefe fields questions from the Toronto media
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Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe shares his biggest takeaway from the California road trip

Published January 7, 2024 at 12:19

When the Leafs came out of the Christmas break on a 3-game losing streak, suffering defeat at the hands of the Senators, Blue Jackets and Hurricanes, it's safe to say there was more than a moderate level of concern in the air. However, when the calendar flipped over to 2024, the Leafs themselves also flipped a switch, so to speak.

The Leafs began 2024 on the road, scheduled to travel to California on January 2nd to take on the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks in a back-to-back in which Martin Jones received both starts, which rarely occurs in today's NHL. Not only did the Leafs dispatch of both teams, outplaying their opponents on both ends of the back-to-back, but they capped off the road trip with a California sweep last night with a win over the San Jose Sharks.

During the 3-game win streak, the Leafs outscored the opposition by a score of 9-2 with Jones stopping 81 of 83 shots along the way. Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe was impressed with the performance of the 33-year-old netminder, stating after the game that he has loved how Jones has come in and stabilized the team with his solid goaltending in the absence of Joseph Woll and Ilya Samsonov. Aside from Jones' outstanding body of work, here's what Keefe says his biggest takeaway was from the trip:

"It just shows what we are capable of and the consistency that we can get to. We played three different types of games on this trip in terms of the way the games went against different opponents, but I thought there was some consistency throughout our game.

Now, this one tonight is probably not as good as the other two, but it is the end of a long trip. To still come out of it pretty clean and take charge of the game in the first period — that is what we have been talking about doing. When we made some mistakes, we got saves.

To me, this has been building. Coming out of the Christmas break, I still lump in our Columbus and Carolina games as part of this. We were building, trending, and building momentum. We carried that through here."

The Leafs are expected to have Sunday off as they travel home from California. They'll be back to work on Monday at practice before taking on the Sharks back home in Toronto on Tuesday.

Maybe we'll even have the big William Nylander extension announcement between now and then.
January 7   |   913 answers
Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe shares his biggest takeaway from the California road trip

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