November 10, 2015
TORONTO – Coach Sheldon Keefe has an expectation and right now his team isn’t quite meeting it, regardless of the Marlies being one of the most dominant clubs in the AHL.
The Marlies have won five in a row and are 10-3-0 overall. They’ve scored a league-high 51 goals, have the best goal differential at plus-22, own the second-best penalty kill and are tied for the most victories with Bridgeport.
Keefe, however, believes his team is capable of much more.
“Winning games is wonderful but the way we’ve been doing it all the way through to this point, through the first dozen games, frankly doesn’t feel too good,” Keefe told LeafsTV after a 5-4 shootout win Friday against Utica.
“We have to be a whole lot better as a group.”
Toronto carried a 3-2 lead into the third period against the Comets and gave up two early goals before William Nylander scored to force the game into extra time.
Keefe was frustrated with his team losing a third-period lead and having to battle back for the two points. He believed his guys was properly prepared to beat Utica after taking the extra time to study video – something the coach believes heavily in.
“All the things we wanted to do and things we wanted to defend against with their transition and their speed and things like that, we just didn’t get it done and paid for it,” said Keefe. “That was disappointing.”
In Wednesday’s 5-0 win over Hartford it was the final 20 minutes that impressed Keefe the most after a lackluster two periods. Toronto was outworked and carried a 1-0 lead into the third only because of goaltender Garret Sparks.
Toronto finished its weekend set with a 6-1 win over Binghamton Saturday. It was easily the Marlies’ best performance on its current road trip and Keefe highlighted his team’s ability to put the opponent away early and hold them off as a major positive.
He considered it a more complete game from his club, which is what he wants from his players.
“We showed good chunks of what we want to do and how we want to play,” said Keefe. “It’s just a matter of building on it and not having it be five minutes here, 10 minutes there, try to get a complete game that’s what we are looking for and what we’re capable of.”
The Marlies return to the road Friday against the St. John’s IceCaps.