The Toronto Maple Leafs suffered their first loss with Sheldon Keefe behind the bench as the Buffalo Sabres got away with the 6-4 win on Friday afternoon.
Fans were quick to criticize the Leafs for using backup Michael Hutchinson in the pipes, he who had been sent down to the minors by former head coach Mike Babcock last week.
The change has been hard on Hutchinson, but teammate Auston Matthews and coach Keefe believe they need to support him better. Hutch even admitted after the loss that he’s never been through a stretch like this in his career, yo-yo between AHL and NHL and struggling to adjust and get wins
“We haven’t been all too good for him all year. You have to feel for a guy like that who comes in and gives it his all every game and we just got to be better for him,” said Matthews post-game, per TSN’s Kristen Shilton.
“A lot of focus on Hutch, but there’s a lot more going on in the game than just that. He played an excellent first period, allowed us to get a 1-0 lead and build on that lead and then I just didn’t think we took care of it very well,” Keefe added.
However, Keefe admitted to one of the mistake he believes cost the Leafs the win and it's not using Hutchinson in net.
Once again - even if Babcock isn’t around anymore - we are talking about Matthews’ use on the ice.
This time, it seems like the star forward might have been overused. Here is what the coach had to say about this mistake of giving Matthews a career-high 24:48 on the ice:
“I played him a lot early in the game. That might have hurt us when we’re now playing from behind in the second half. We couldn’t use our bench the way we would have liked to and we have when we’ve had leads in other games.”
However, we didn’t hear Matthews complain about his use and he hopes to get better and better as he gets more ice time.
“I want to be out there, I feel like I can be a difference out there. We had our chances, couldn’t capitalize on them. And then a couple bad plays by myself and our line out there and it cost us some goals against.”
There are still a few things for the new coach to figure out it seems…