William Nylander
Photo credit: Toronto Star

Nylander responds to being benched by Sheldon Keefe in a big way

Published March 3, 2024 at 10:50
BY MIKE ARMENTI

The Toronto Maple Leafs headed into last night's game on the heels of a 4-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday, but anyone could have told you ahead of the game that the New York Rangers were a much more dangerous opponent and one who the Leafs should not take lightly.

The Leafs played from behind in this one on two separate occasions, first when they allowed the Alexis Lafreniere goal in the first and then again when Vincent Trocheck scored in the 2nd to re-take the lead. However, the Buds stuck with it and after a William Nylander goal knotted the game up at 2-2 in the 2nd, a goal by John Tavares in period 3 landed the Leafs their first lead of the game and, for the most part, looked to be in control of the game until a Trocheck tied the game with just over a minute to go in the 3rd to force OT.

The Leafs ended up weathering the storm in OT and ended up winning in the shootout, but one of the big stories in this one occurred following the Lafreniere goal in the first period. As William Nylander attempted to chip the puck out past a Rangers defender to blow the zone, he left Lafreniere wide open. This play didn't sit well with Sheldon Keefe, who benched Nylander for over 7 minutes to close out the 1st period.




With a player like Nylander, you sort of have to take the bad with the good, as he is a game-changer. One minute he'll do something that will make you scratch your head, and the next minute, he'll dazzle you with his tremendous talent and finish off an impossible play to score you a big goal. That's sort of who he's been for most of his career. Still, even he isn't above a benching and a wake-up call every now and again, and Keefe really liked how Nylander had responded to his first period benching.

"I loved how he responded. Thought he competed hard, dug in. Willy knows what we need from him in that moment. Met with that line yesterday with some very specific things & that wasn't it. That's the way it goes. Loved how he responded."

Nylander scored the game tying goal late in the 2nd period, which helped propel the Leafs to an eventual 4-3 shootout win against one of the hottest teams in the league, as the Rangers were 9-1-0 coming into this one. You love to see it.

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March 3   |   538 answers
Nylander responds to being benched by Sheldon Keefe in a big way

Is Sheldon Keefe actually a good coach?

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