Sheldon Keefe gives Tyler Bertuzzi an earful during a game
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Sheldon Keefe points the finger at one specific unit following loss to the Islanders

Published January 12, 2024 at 3:07 PM

The Toronto Maple Leafs played a pretty solid road game against the New York Islanders but were ultimately outdone in the special teams battle, dropping the game very early in overtime, losing by a score of 4-3 in the extra frame.

The Leafs gave up two powerplay goals in this one, the first scored by Kyle Palmieri forty seconds into the game and the other by Bo Horvat on the game tying goal. When Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe spoke to the media after the game, he didn't shy away from what he thought his team's shortcomings were on the night. The special teams battle was at the top of his list of issues.

"Special teams were rotten tonight — power play, penalty kill, overtime. That costs you games," Keefe said, pointedly. "Power play had one chance and did nothing with it. It's as bad as we've looked in any power play. And then penalty kill, it's in our net before you can even blink to start the game... Those are the kind of mistakes that cost you games and cost you points."

Toronto ranks 6th in the league on the powerplay with a 26.7 % success rate and rank 24th in the league on the penalty kill with a 76.8 % success rate. These numbers are down when compared to last season. It's a major concern and, at the very least, the Leafs will need to improve on the penalty kill if they hope to find any success in the second half.

One has to wonder whether Sheldon Keefe and Brad Treliving have discussed the potential of bringing in another penalty killing specialist. With how brutal the PK has been this season, it wouldn't be surprising to see the Leafs make a move to acquire a player who can help beef up the penalty kill before the deadline passes.

The Maple Leafs can get back on track this weekend when they host back-to-back games on Saturday and Sunday versus the Colorado Avalanche and Detroit Red Wings.
January 12   |   798 answers
Sheldon Keefe points the finger at one specific unit following loss to the Islanders

What area of the roster in Toronto is currently the weakest?

Goaltending11914.9 %
Defense47159 %
Bottom six668.3 %
Special teams (PP, PK, 3-on-3)14217.8 %
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