Toronto Maple Leafs Nothing To Talk About But Practice

The Toronto Maple Leafs have had one game in 21 days, so they don’t have much to discuss other than practice. In other words, “Yes,” in the famous words of Hall of Fame NBA player Allen Iverson, “We talking about practice, not a game, not a game, not a game, we talking about practice, not a game… we talking about practice, how silly is that.” But, silly or not, it’s all the Maple Leafs have to talk about after a long lay-off, and they are understandably a bit stir-crazy.

Sheldon Keefe, Toronto Maple Leafs head Coach, speaks to John Tavares during practice (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young).

Sheldon Keefe admitted it’s been a challenge, “but it gets to the point where the players are like, “Uncle! Let’s get to the practice. Let’s get playing here.” The coach has essentially had enough time to run another full training camp. Ironically, Keefe, who is in his third season with the club, did not have a regular training camp until this season – now he has had two. “It has been a different challenge that I haven’t really faced a lot other than in training camp settings. As a coach mid-season, we are making sure we are addressing the things that we feel we need to do address while providing enough variety in giving the guys enough to keep them engaged through these long stretches of practices.”

Many players took additional shots after the practice. Captain John Tavares explained the reasons. “we obviously haven’t played a lot of hockey games as of late, so you have a little more energy, look to up the workload on a practice day like today… we’ve only had one game in the last little while, and sometimes you just want to get a better feel for things.”

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Toronto faced a significant outbreak of COVID during the past three weeks, so the players haven’t practiced together every day. However, Morgan Reilly is relievedThey are going back to work. “I think to have the group around each other and a more normal schedule has been good. But we are looking forwards to playing and then hitting the road.”

Maple Leafs Benefitted From Break

While some players have experienced minor injuries, the time off has helped them to heal and return to their starting position. Ilya Mikhiev looked a bit behind when he returned to the ice for his first regular season game on Dec. 14, 2021. On Jan. 1, 2022, he was far ahead of most players, scoring two goals against Ottawa Senators.

Justin Holl Toronto Maple Leafs
Justin Holl, Toronto Maple LeafsAmy Irvin/ The Hockey Writers

Justin Holl is the next. It’s no secret that his play has struggled during the first 30 games of the season. He did play well in the last 30 games. Ottawa defeated 6-0His first goal of the season was scored by him. Although he is not a reliable goal-scorer, the rare goal came from his ability to play the penalty kill with perfection. Holl continued to produce one of his finest performances in the 2021-22 season.

Maple Leafs are Completely Reset

“You have no choice but to look at it as a reset,” said Keefe. “No matter what your situation is, you should be looking at this as a reset. As a group, we have discussed this. It is about reuniting with our collective work, not individual pieces, but the overall goal of what we are trying achieve as a group. The quicker we can get back to our team game, the better it will be for everybody.”

Toronto will host ten games over the course of 25 days, assuming there aren’t any other schedule changes. Although not the most demanding, they have still had more work than in previous weeks. If the Ottawa game was any indication, perhaps slight cabin fever isn’t such a bad thing.