from Terry Koshan of the Toronto Sun,
Upon further video review, the Detroit Red Wings are playing at a highly competitive level and will be a handful for the Maple Leafs on Saturday night.
That was a theme in the message Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe was imparting on his players at team meetings on Saturday morning, hours before the Leafs meet Detroit to kick off a five-game homestand at Scotiabank Arena.
And Keefe had some recent film as evidence. Late in the third period of the Wings’ game against the Florida Panthers in Detroit on Friday, the Wings threw their bodies in front of at least five shots for blocks in a pressure-filled sequence that lasted nearly a minute.
The desire to sacrifice kept the score at 2-1 for Florida, and the Wings managed to tie the game before losing 3-2 in overtime. Their overall record of 4-2-2, which has them in third place in the Atlantic Division, brings respect from their Original Six rivals in Toronto.
“There is going to be no surprise for us,” Keefe said. “They are full marks for the results they’ve had. They’re in every game, they’re carrying playing a lot of games, they are getting their scoring chances. They’re a committed group that’s playing hard and wants to have a great season and they want to push to win and compete in games.
“We saw the sequence they had last night. It’s a really quick snapshot of the type of mindset that Detroit has in terms of how they are playing with a ton of urgency and competing at a high level early in the season. They’re not going to make it easy on us, for sure.”