Sheldon Keefe really unhappy with Matthews' Pursuit of 70 goals

Mackenzie Stern-Kolesnikow
April 14, 2024  (12:44)

Photo of Auston Matthews, who plays for the Toronto Maple Leafs
Photo credit: Toronto Sun

Auston Matthews has made it his mission to score 70 goals, fans have been following Matthews' and his attempt to reach his goal. Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe is not happy with Matthews' mission, especially after last night's loss against the Detroit Red Wings, Keefe called Matthews' pursuit a "major distraction"

Halfway through the second period of last night's match against the Red Wings, Matthews scored his 69th goal during a power play, this put him one goal away from the 70 goals milestone. Unfortunately, this allowed the Red Wings to accurately predict that Matthews would be receiving the puck anytime the Leafs entered the offensive zone, meaning all they had to do was cover Matthews to shut down the Leafs. This allowed the Red Wings to prevent Matthews from scoring his 70th goal, but more importantly it allowed the Red Wings to win in overtime, after having an extra man advantage due to a penalty Max Domi took towards the final minutes of the game.
Leafs head coach, Sheldon Keefe, was already annoyed that his team was outperformed by the Red Wings during the first period. It was clear during a post game interview that he was quite annoyed with the teams' performance. Keefe was asked about Matthews and his mission to hit 70 goals, Keefe felt that this pursuit was a "major distraction", and did not help the team.
"Yeah, I mean, obviously, that's a major distraction. It doesn't help us, what we're trying to accomplish on the ice. But it's exciting. I get it. And it's-- especially when he gets to 69, you can see it. It's really-- it's growing, anticipating. And now you're feeding it. I'm feeding it. I want it to happen. But I wanted it for the fans. But I'm glad the game's over. Let's move on."

Keefe shared that he was glad to move on from the loss, but he expressed that the rest of the team seems to be prioritizing Matthews to help him reach his goal, and that he does not like that the team is ignoring the game plan to help Matthews. Keefe made this point clear with how much he played Matthews after the Leafs were down 4-1 against the Red Wings. Keefe seems to want to get this milestone out of the way so that he can continue to prepare the Leafs for the upcoming playoffs.
Keefe made the right call with his decision to increase Matthews' icetime, it was clear that the rest of the Leafs kept passing the puck to him, Keefe began double-shifting Matthews in hopes that he would get the 70th goal, so that Matthews and the rest of the team could begin focusing on the playoffs, which are significantly more important than scoring 70 goals.
Matthews took 10 shots on goal during his 24 minutes of ice time. Matthews is known to be a high volume shooter, but even for someone like Matthews, it is clear that he was taking too many shots attempts. His teammates wanted Matthews to hit this impressive milestone, but in the process of helping him they also lost the game. Hopefully Matthews can score his 70th goal soon, so that the team can focus on making a good run at the 2024 NHL playoffs.
Source - Mapleleafsdaily: Matthews' pursuit of 70 goals a "major distraction" says Sheldon Keefe
April 14   |   142 answers
Sheldon Keefe really unhappy with Matthews' Pursuit of 70 goals

Do you think Matthews will be able to score his 70th goal before the end of the season?

Yes9566.9 %
No4733.1 %
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