Energized Leafs snap losing skid in Sheldon Keefe’s debut in Arizona — even Tyson Barrie scored


  • If there was a Maple Leaf who seemed happiest about Sheldon Keefe’s arrival as the team’s 31st head coach, and the list of candidates was long, it was easy to make a case for Tyson Barrie.
  • Barrie’s 23 games with Mike Babcock as head coach coincided with the worst slump of the defenceman’s career.
  • Among the most offensively potent blue-liners in the league during the previous two seasons in Colorado, under Babcock he’d posted a grand total of seven points, all assists.
  • His 59 shots on net were the most of any NHLer who’d yet to score a goal this season.
  • In the lead-up to Thursday night’s 3-1 win here over the Coyotes — a long-awaited victory that broke a six-game winless streak — Barrie called Keefe’s promotion to head coach “a new lease.”
  • And Barrie certainly occupied the new territory well, scoring his first goal as a Maple Leaf to open the scoring on an aggressive move off the point and a pinpoint wrister that beat Darcy Kuemper.

“I think (the team is) excited,” Barrie said before the game. “You don’t ever want to see a coach get let go. It means a team’s underperforming … But now we’ve got to look at it as a fresh start. This is a chance for us to find ourselves and really get going.”

  • Certainly the Leafs looked like a different version of themselves in their first game in the post-Babcock era.
  • They skated with more zip, occupied the offensive zone with more authority and creativity, spent far less time hemmed in their own end than in many recent outings.
  • And they actually smiled, both at the morning skate and in the course of their work night, something you didn’t regularly see under Babcock.
  • It was one game, sure, but it was a promising one.
  • The only down moment came with 16 seconds to play, when Vinnie Hinostroza’s goal busted what would have been Frederik Andersen’s first shutout in more than a year.
  • Though the Leafs began the day in 25th place in the 31-team league as measured by points percentage, a new optimism was palpable.
  • Barrie, for one, said it meant something that he was used on the team’s No. 1 power-play unit during morning skate — although Toronto didn’t manage a power-play opportunity on the night.

“I think they’re just trying to get me more involved and trying to get me in a position to be successful,” Barrie said.

Sources & Credits: Dave Feschuk, The Star
NHL Highlights | Maple Leafs vs Coyotes – Nov. 21, 2019

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