NHL Sound Bites: Maple Leafs’ Keefe & Penguins’ Crosby Hat Trick

The “NHL Sound Bites” column is your go-to for daily hockey stories with quotes from your favourite players and staff.

In this edition of NHL Sound Bites, Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe discusses his belief in his team after a 6-3 loss to the New York Rangers on Wednesday, and Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby scores his first hat trick in multiple years.

Keefe Remains Confident in Maple Leafs Despite Discouraging Loss to Rangers

The Maple Leafs suffered a humiliating loss to the Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday. After Toronto took a 3-1 lead in the game, they proceeded to allow five consecutive goals against, ultimately losing by a score of 6-3. The defeat raised questions about the Maple Leafs’ competitiveness and ability to hold leads. Keefe addressed the media on Friday.

Sheldon Keefe Toronto Maple Leafs-NHL Sound Bites: Maple Leafs' Keefe & Penguins' Crosby Hat Trick
Sheldon Keefe, head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

“My strong belief in this team hasn’t changed in any way,” said Keefe. “It’s just the fact that our standards slipped the other night playing with the lead in the second and third periods, and we can’t win by playing that way.”

The Maple Leafs rank 10th in the NHL and third in the Atlantic Division with a 24-10-3 record. Although the team has gone a mediocre 2-2-1 in its last five games, their latest struggles shouldn’t cause too much concern.

“We have a team that is difficult to play against when we’re at our best,” said Keefe. “We’re a team that has played with the best in the league and established ourselves among the best in the league. And that’s been through the foundation of competitiveness and physicality of our structure. We continue to work at the consistency piece.”

Toronto has 45 games remaining to finish off the regular season strong. The team is on a mission to rectify a humiliating loss to their rival Montreal Canadiens in the first round of last year’s playoffs. The Maple Leafs hope to make a deep run in the postseason this year and contend for the Stanley Cup.

“My message to the team is what I was saying earlier in that we’ve played at a high level and to a high standard all season, and the expectation I’ve had for our team is set based on what we’ve shown the ability to do,” said Keefe. “We’ve done it. We’ve done it for long stretches over the course of the season and last season, for that matter.”

Crosby Tallies His 12th NHL Hat Trick, First in More Than Three Years, on Friday

Crosby scored the 12th hat trick of his NHL career on Friday in a 5-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. The three-goal game marks his first since Nov. 28, 2018, at the Colorado Avalanche. The Penguins superstar is just now four goals shy of reaching 500 in his career.

Sidney Crosby Pittsburgh Penguins-NHL Sound Bites: Maple Leafs' Keefe & Penguins' Crosby Hat Trick
Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

“I feel good,” said Crosby. “I mean, with the more games we’ve played here, I think it’s been good just to get rhythm and timing and just getting games. We haven’t had those breaks in bunches, which is nice. It’s nice to get some rhythm and timing. We got a lot of games coming up, and hopefully can kind of work through that and get better.”

The Penguins are riding a four-game win streak and have won its last 15 of 17 games. Crosby is heating up at the right time as Pittsburgh continues its surge in the standings, now ranked sixth in the NHL and third in the Metropolitan Division after a rocky start to the season.

“We’ve shown an ability to play the game a certain way that gives us the best chance to win, and it starts with an attitude,” said Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan. “And then it’s a commitment to play the game the right way. And then it’s attention to detail and knowing what your job is and trusting that your linemate or your teammate is going to do theirs.”

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Crosby has 31 points (10 goals, 21 assists) in 28 games this season. His hat trick on Friday could spark a hot streak for the already incredible Penguins captain as he looks to lead his team to the fourth Stanley Cup of his career.

“He’s always been there,” said Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin. “But even before this, when pucks weren’t going in, he was getting a lot of chances and driving play for us. So it’s good to see him get rewarded with the hat trick tonight.”

Thank you for reading this edition of NHL Sound Bites, and make sure to listen to THW Podcast every weekday (Monday to Friday) to hear everything your favourite hockey writers have to say about the hottest topics around the league.

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