Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe was not impressed by his team’s lack of response to a questionable hit delivered by Boston Bruins captain Brad Marchand on Maple Leafs defenseman Timothy Liljegren during Thursday’s shootout loss.
Marchand got tangled up with Liljegren and appeared to unleash a "can-opener" — a dirty play where a player lodges his stick between an opponent’s skate from behind and pulls them backwards. Liljegren immediately left the contest and Keefe revealed that the defenseman is dealing with a high-ankle sprain. The club placed him on long-term injured reserve Saturday morning.
After the play, Marchand went over to the Leafs’ bench and started chirping with Ryan Reaves, but nothing further came out of the incident.
“I hated everything about it. And I addressed it,” Keefe said.
Keefe was then asked to expand on his answer:
“Well, just the response. In the moment, some guys, you don’t know what’s exactly transpired. It’s game day here, we’re preparing for Buffalo, I’m not going to get into it too much but it’s not what we want to be about. At times, we’ve responded very well in those situations in the past. It’s about consistency. We’ve addressed it.”
Keefe also called out the Bruins captain on Saturday.
“Brad Marchand doesn’t care about Ryan Reaves or anyone else in the league, that’s well-established. It’s more about the team response,” Keefe said.
— Terry Koshan 🇺🇦 (@koshtorontosun) November 4, 2023
Simon Benoit and Max Lajoie have been called up from the AHL’s Toronto Marlies in Liljegren’s absence.
“No doubt that we have a tight group in here,” Maple Leafs captain John Tavares said. “We talk about having a strong brotherhood and instances like that, things that happen within the game, how we have to stick together. The way we need to go out there and compete and play and the nature of certain things that happen within the game, so no doubt, we discuss all areas we want to be better in and that situation as well.”
Maple Leafs forward Tyler Bertuzzi, who spent the end of last season with the Bruins, appeared to be laughing during the Marchand-Reaves exchange. Bertuzzi spoke with reporters in a terse exchange Saturday morning, adding that the team’s response to the Marchand hit had been addressed internally.
“People can perceive that however they want, I’m not going to explain myself,” Bertuzzi said in reference to his apparent laughter.