Sheldon Keefe calls out his second line

Published January 22, 2022 at 4:45 PM
BY MIKE ARMENTI
There is a tall task awaiting the Toronto Maple Leafs in Long Island on Saturday, regardless of what the standings say. The Leafs currently have a 17-point lead on the Islanders in the overall standings, but Buds have cooled significantly of late, while the Isles have really kicked things up a notch, earning wins in 6 of their last 7 games.

A big reason why the Leafs have struggled over the past 5 games has been the fact that the team's second line, comprised of Alexander Kerfoot, John Tavares and William Nylander, has registered just 3 goals in the last 5 games. While they've certainly had their chances, even head coach Sheldon Keefe has noticed that the pucks just aren't going in for the talented trio.

"I don't think the line has had the same type of rhythm that they had prior to Christmas. I think they have another level to get to," said Keefe ahead of Saturday's matchup with the Isles. The coach believes they have a lot more to give, and given what we've seen at various points throughout the season, he's right.

Nylander, Tavares and Kerfoot currently sit 2nd, 3rd and 5th in team scoring, respectively, so it's no surprise that since the well has dried up some for them, the Leafs have looked less dominant. Of course, another factor is that 4 of the last 5 games the Leafs have played have been against very good teams in Colorado, Vegas, St. Louis and New York, with Arizona being the only real outlier.


If the Leafs hope to steal one in Long Island, they're going to have to rely on their second line to return to form, especially captain John Tavares, who has just 2 points and is a combined -5 in his last 5 starts. Plus, who wouldn't love to see Tavares explode against his old team to a chorus of boos emanating from the stands? I know I would.

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