Sheldon Keefe addresses scoring drought for star players

The Leafs stars have been quiet.



The Toronto Maple Leafs are on the ropes, trailing three games to none against the upstart Florida Panthers who are continuing to author an incredible story so far in the 2023 postseason. 

Last night's 3-2 overtime setback pushed the Leafs to the brink of elimination, all but bringing an end to the good feelings of their having won their first playoff series since 2004. And one especially troubling stat that Leafs fans are noticing through the first three games against Florida is the absence of core forwards Auston Matthews, John Tavares, Mitch Marner, and William Nylander on the scoresheet. 

Toronto's most valuable players haven't come through when it matters most, and the Leafs are now staring at the abyss thanks to that. For head coach Sheldon Keefe, all he said that he's able to do is continue to put them in positions to succeed. 

"In terms of what I can do, it is to continue to look to put them in positions to succeed," Keefe said of what he can do to get more production out of his top players. "That would be the first thing. As with the rest of our team, the focus has to be on doing what we can control and focusing on the things that really, truly matter in terms of the process and the details of our game."

"The moment anybody is bogged down by the fact that they haven’t scored or they start to think about things outside of the little details, habits, competitiveness, and work ethic — all of those things that give you a chance to succeed and put you in a position to score — now you are really working uphill," Keefe continued.

The Leafs and Panthers resume their series on Wednesday night from FLA Live Arena, and the host Panthers can punch their ticket to their first Eastern Conference Finals since their miracle run of 1996 with a victory. But can Toronto's core four of top offensive players finally start contributing before it's too late? 

"We will give the guys the freedom to free their minds and focus on the things that they can control," Keefe said. "They have had a lot of scoring chances in this series that haven’t fallen and haven’t gone their way."