‘ANTICIPATION JUST GROWS’: Maple Leafs getting antsy as playoff spectators

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Author of the article:

Lance Hornby

Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe speaks to his players as forward Pierre Engvall (47) and forward Jason Spezza (19) and forward Wayne Simmonds (24) listen during the third period against the Montreal Canadiens at Scotiabank Arena May 8, 2021. Photo by Dan Hamilton /USA TODAY Sports Article content

Call the past few nights must-see TV for Sheldon Keefe and the Maple Leafs.

The coach has seen close games, leads changes, overtime, crease crashing and a couple of scraps around the NHL. But the Leafs and Montreal Canadiens are still 48 hours from puck drop in their playoff series, the last of eight to get underway.

“We’re very excited, though it’s been a bit longer of a gap than you’d like,” Keefe said Tuesday, the fourth of a six-day wait during which his club took a break from practice. “That anticipation just grows and now that you’re watching the other series up and going, you want to play that much more.”

Toronto’s extra workout time has been partly dedicated to the power play, which finished the regular season in a funk, 6-for-71. Of all post-season games so far, power play success is running at 17.5% around the league.

After much of regular season strategy was to pack one unit, Keefe moved back this week to dividing resources on both power play groups.

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