Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe was frustrated with his team following Thursday night’s 3-2 shootout loss to the Boston Bruins, but it wasn’t because of the result. Keefe was disappointed in the lack of response from the players after a collision with Boston captain Brad Marchand injured Toronto defenseman Timothy Liljegren.
In the first period, Marchand and Liljegren were going into the corner for a loose puck when the two players leaned into one another. When the pair made contact, their feet got tangled, and Liljegren went into the boards awkwardly. Liljegren had to leave the game, and he did not return after getting diagnosed with a high ankle sprain. On Saturday, Keefe announced that Liljegren would be placed on LTIR.
When asked about the lack of a reaction from the Leafs, Keefe didn’t hold back.
“I hated everything about it,” Keefe said. “I’ve addressed it.”
Keefe admitted that some players may not have seen what happened, but he wants to see his players stand up for and rally around one another in situations like that.
“In the moment, some guys maybe don’t know exactly what’s transpired, and sometimes it’s hard to compute,” Keefe said. “It’s not what we want to be about. At times, we’ve responded very well in those situations in the past. It’s about consistency going forward. We’ve addressed it.”
Toronto just signed veteran Ryan Reaves in the offseason in the hopes that he would bring a physical presence and some toughness to the lineup. However, Reaves wasn’t able to get on the ice with Marchand because the Bruins had the last line change as the home team. Besides, Keefe doesn’t think the message-sending should fall solely on Reaves’ shoulders.
“Brad Marchand doesn’t care about Ryan Reaves or anyone else in the league,” Keefe said. “That’s well-established. It’s more about the team response. There’s a lot of other players wearing Bruins colors, and we can make life harder on them. It’s more about the uplifting of our team.”
We’ll see whether the Maple Leafs bring more fire when they play the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday night, but it will be especially interesting to see what happens the next time they play the Bruins. The two Atlantic Division foes will meet again on Saturday, Dec. 2.