SIMMONS: The numbers are working out nicely for Sheldon Keefe and the Leafs

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The rapid affect Sheldon Keefe has created on a wobbling Maple Leafs period has been practically nothing limited of remarkable.

Heading into Saturday night time, the Leafs experienced received 9 of their 1st 13 online games with Keefe as head mentor.

That’s a person much more get than Boston because Nov. 20. Just one much more than Tampa Bay. Equally teams owning performed two far more game titles than the Leafs.

Additional importantly, that’s 3 more wins than Montreal, Buffalo and Florida have experienced in a related time frame. The Sabres have played two far more online games. The Panthers and Canadiens have performed the very same amount of games and the Leafs have picked up 6 factors and 5 points, respectively, on teams they are chasing for playoff situation in the Atlantic Division.

The Leafs, underneath Keefe, have a far better history than St. Louis, Colorado and Winnipeg. The Edmonton Oilers experienced nine far more factors than the Leafs when Mike Babcock was fired. Considering the fact that then, the Leafs have seven far more factors than the having difficulties Oilers.

The most significant change? Exclusive groups. The penalty-killing and electricity perform underneath Babcock struggled terribly. The Leafs ended up 73% on the penalty-get rid of and 17.5% on the ability participate in right before the firing.

Due to the fact then, they are 86.6% on the penalty-destroy and 31.8% on the electrical power participate in. Those numbers just can’t possibly be sustained, but they are an indication of major improve, particularly looking at the assistant coaches responsible for the exclusive teams are precisely the same.

Only 1 NHL team — the Pittsburgh Penguins — has additional wins than the Leafs due to the fact Keefe was employed.

THIS AND THAT

Even though they’re not allowed to converse to media — dumb guidelines the Maple Leafs and other pro groups have instituted — it would be attention-grabbing to listen to from assistant coaches Dave Hakstol and Paul McFarland, who are liable for the Leafs’ unique teams. Speculate what would they would say about the mid-time modify? … William Nylander had 61 factors in each of his first two total NHL seasons. This is Yr 4. Heading into Saturday night time, he was on tempo for, you guessed it, 61 points … Mitch Marner experienced 61 factors as a rookie. Then 69. Then 94. This calendar year, having missed a bunch of video games, he’s all over again scoring at a 90-issue tempo … Justin Holl has played much more online games for Keefe than any one else on the Leafs, 205 in complete among the Marlies and the massive club. He turns 28 next thirty day period. He’s setting up himself instead late as a solid NHL defenceman … This is created ahead of Saturday night’s sport against the Pink Wings. If Michael Hutchinson receives the earn in purpose, the Leafs can dangle on to him for now, frozen Xmas rosters apart. If he doesn’t get the get, then Kyle Dubas experienced far better go out and locate a backup goalie of consequence the minute the rosters are unfrozen … If you transpired to be at the 2nd Avenue Deli on Friday afternoon in Manhattan, you would have witnessed a first: Dubas staying launched to a pastrami sandwich. The betting listed here is it will not be his very last … Most who viewed Quinn Hughes engage in in the GTHL hardly ever noticed him starting to be an NHL star. What they didn’t see was his over-the-prime hockey feeling and his capacity to compete. Much too several of us get caught up with the dimensions of a player relatively than the expertise concerned. The rookie defenceman is between the most effective gamers on the Vancouver Canucks.

Hear AND THERE

The terrific Alex Ovechkin has had 10 seasons of 45 targets or extra, which is extra than impressive in this day and age The 9 active scorers who follow him — Patrick Marleau, Sidney Crosby, Eric Staal, Joe Thornton, Steven Stamkos, Evgeni Malkin, Jeff Carter, Corey Perry and Zach Parise — have had 10 45-in addition scoring seasons as perfectly — when you incorporate all of them with each other … My all-planet athlete of the decade: Usain Bolt. Not significantly powering him: LeBron James, Tom Brady, Novak Djokovic, Mike Trout, Rafael Nadal, Lionel Messi, Crosby, Serena Williams, Roger Federer and Floyd Mayweather … Staff of the ten years: The dishonest New England Patriots, followed not considerably at the rear of by the cheating Houston Astros … Talking of cheats, why must any Russian athletes be eligible to contend in the Tokyo Olympics following summer? If you’re likely to ban the nation as drug cheats, ban everybody … The Canadian feminine athlete of the decade: Who else but Christine Sinclair? … This is fantasy soccer championship weekend. If you’re continue to alive, excellent luck to you. If you are however alive in an NFL survivor pool, you are in all probability counting your dollars by now … Possessing lived with addicts and all over addicts, it is to the level where by I actually certainly experience sorry for Josh Gordon. He just can’t seem to be to beat his dependancy  … Noel Acciari scored 6 goals for the Boston Bruins very last year and 6 ambitions for the Florida Panthers in their earlier two video games. Coach Joel Quenneville has put the profession afterthought in a put with top quality linemates Vincent Trocheck and Jonathan Huberdeau and the seemingly unachievable is going on.

SCENE AND Read

All these several years the Raptors yearned for a Xmas Day reckoning on the NBA routine. Now they get one, as champions, without the need of Pascal Siakam, Marc Gasol and Norman Powell. Be very careful of what you wish for … The ESPN-ABC ads for Xmas Working day basketball wouldn’t thrill the Raptors. There’s mention of LeBron, Giannis, The Beard and Kawhi Leonard. No point out at all of the defending champs … It is wonderful that two terrific Canadian NBA players — Jamal Murray and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander — have dedicated to perform in the Olympic qualifier in June in Victoria. That silence you keep on to listen to is Andrew Wiggins thinking about his nationwide team upcoming whilst possessing the very best of his 6 NBA seasons and with him being signed prolonged-time period in Minnesota … The Memphis Grizzlies are the the very least important franchise in the NBA, truly worth $1.2 billion. The Grizzlies would rank fifth in the NHL in benefit, guiding only the New York Rangers, Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens and Chicago Blackhawks … Views and prayers to former NBA commissioner David Stern, nevertheless combating the life-threatening brain hemorrhage he suffered 10 days in the past. Stern is 77 decades old … It’s possible I’m outdated and cranky, or both equally, but I have zero curiosity in an NBA match of any form in the center of the period … What is most amazing about Kyle Lowry is how he adapts to no matter what position the Raptors will need him to participate in. If they want him to guide, he prospects. If they need him to rating, he scores. If they want to perform additional a traditional place guard purpose, he does that. In among screaming at officials, there is a great deal to admire about the bulldog that is Lowry.

AND Another Detail

Barring injuries or a miraculous signing, this is the Blue Jays’ starting for rotation for 2020: Tanner Roark, Chase Anderson, Matt Shoemaker, Shun Yamaguchi and Trent Thornton. Or, as Jerry Howarth made use of to say, there is lots of good seats available … Shun is either the name of a new Blue Jays pitcher or what the entrance office environment has carried out to its supporters … It probably should not hassle me, but it does: The Jays are choosing John Farrell’s son to head up their novice scouting … Question what Jesse Orosco or Paul Mirabella imagine of the new massive league rule which mandates that a relief pitcher must experience a bare minimum of a few batters? … The sponsors are lining up, as they really should, for Bianca Andreescu. She lately signed a multi-12 months deal with Gatorade. Conditions had been not declared, but this experienced to be for some severe coin. And there is far more on the way … There must be new NFL head coaches in Cleveland, Dallas, Jacksonville, Cincinnati, Los Angeles Chargers, New York Giants, and for guaranteed, Carolina and Washington. And maybe new coaches in Miami and New York Jets. The league has develop into that unstable … I glimpse forward to the working day that a girl not from Canada or the United States gets inducted in the Hockey Hall of Fame … Doesn’t Ryan Fitzpatrick appear like he’d have been the ideal CFL quarterback. He enjoys to roll out and throw on the operate. But that $60 million in vocation earnings has stored him in the NFL … Past column in advance of the holidays. A delighted, nutritious, and I do suggest wholesome, to one particular and all … Happy birthday to Tom Henke (62), Ian Turnbull (65), Travis Dermott (23), Brandon Financial institutions (32), Steve Carlton (75), Cody Ceci (26), Ian Sunter (67), LaTroy Hawkins (47), Ron Greschner (65) and Mauro Ranallo (50) … And hey, no matter what became of Jake Plummer?

*****

Notice to John Chayka, general manager of the Arizona Coyotes: Groups don’t gain the Stanley Cup devoid of initial or second line centres of good quality.

St. Louis experienced Ryan O’Reilly and Brayden Schenn. Washington had Evgeny Kuznetsov and Nicklas Backstrom. Pittsburgh, of course, had Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Ahead of that, Chicago had Jonathan Toews and Los Angeles gained with Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter.

The Coyotes have recently traded for star winger Taylor Hall immediately after investing in the summer season for winger Phil Kessel. The two can be game-breakers at instances. Just not when it matters if they’re not surrounded by all-star calibre or near all-star calibre centremen.

Christian Dvorak centres the Coyotes initially line. Following that it’s Carl Soderberg and Derek Stepan. In other words, they won’t beat teams with Nathan MacKinnon or Mark Scheifele or the Blues blend in a playoff collection.

Only a single team in the submit-lockout NHL has won devoid of a absolutely sure-issue No. 1 centre and that was Anaheim in 2007, which experienced Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer on defence and a younger producing Ryan Getzlaf centring the second line.

For as thrilling as this Coyotes season appears — with Arizona in very first area in its division  — the team doesn’t have the centres to be taken severely arrive playoff time.

*****

When the deal was designed, Marc Bergevin was regarded to be an fool by the greater part of hockey commentators (of which I wasn’t a component of).

How could he possibly trade the popular P.K. Subban for the aging Shea Weber? That was the tone of the working day in June 2017, when the big offer was produced. How could Bergevin be so incorrect?

Two and a half seasons and 1 trade afterwards and the tone has improved remarkably. Weber is on the verge of Norris Trophy thing to consider this year for his play with the Montreal Canadiens at the age of 34. This past week or so, Weber scored two objectives and established up four many others in 5 game titles for Montreal.

This period, the entire period, Subban has scored two goals and four assists for the struggling New Jersey Devils.

The surprise, really, isn’t that Weber has been a rock for the Canadiens. He was a rock actively playing for Canada at the Olympics and a rock on defence for the Nashville Predators. The surprise has been that the Predators fatigued of Subban and the Devils built a significant financial commitment in him to support create their franchise. So much, it has not labored out at all.

All the screamers have been demonstrated erroneous over time on the deal and in this case, a previous mentor these types of as Mike Babcock was verified quite proper. He predicted Weber would star in Montreal. He didn’t forecast Subban would fall off the map.

Virtually no 1 observed that coming.

*****

This does not occur obviously or easily. The way the Raptors have made their depth. The way they have picked absent at spare elements from other companies and seemingly discovered a way to increase and improve their NBA roster.

It’s specifically important now with Pascal Siakam out, with Norman Powell and Marc Gasol down lengthy expression, that the Raptors set up a lineup that is far more than credible.

They didn’t draft Patrick McCaw, but they very a great deal formulated him. He began on Friday evening for the Raptors. He will be termed upon to play a substantial role while Powell is hurt.

They did not draft Chris Boucher or Rondae Hollis-Jefferson or Terrence Davis, but they saw enough in them to snatch them from other teams when they became out there and develop them additional. Everyone in pro sports activities scouts and tries to produce and normally takes that element of their operation severely. Every person does it, but not all people succeeds undertaking it.

It is not a person individual. It is not just Masai Ujiri, despite the fact that he sets the tone. It is not just Bobby Webster, the typical supervisor. It isn’t just the scouts and the improvement coaches and all those who establish the diamonds in the tough. It is all of them.

The Raptors will absolutely wrestle with the bodies they have dropped to injuries and the issue in filling the required minutes. On Friday night time from Washington, they bought 37 factors from McCaw, Hollis-Jefferson, Boucher and Davis — and, extra impressively, 12-for-24 capturing from the field. None of those players was at first signed or drafted by the Raptors, who have outworked and outsmarted a large amount of the NBA groups together the way.

ssimmons@postmedia.com

twitter.com/simmonssteve

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