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Maple Leafs’ Keefe cheers Raptors on in playoff run


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OTTAWA — Sheldon Keefe is no different than any other Toronto sports fan this Easter weekend.

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There are plenty of choices and even his Maple Leafs, playing every other day, take time to watch the Raptors launch another playoff push as the Blue Jays returned to Rogers Center strong.

“Nick Nurse and I were texting yesterday,” Keefe said Saturday afternoon of the Raptors coach. “I just wished him well for the upcoming playoffs and he passed on the same to us. I haven’t been able to attend a Jays game myself, but I’m working on it. It’s the perfect time to be a sports fan in Toronto, no doubt.

“I think in most cities there is this common bond (between the teams). You look at the success the Raptors have had in the MLSE family, we pay attention and learn what we can from them.

DON’T PANIC POWER

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Before Saturday’s game against the Senators. Keefe was asked about his league-leading power play, apparently losing a step and falling below 30% efficiency.

“The numbers look worse than they are because there were a lot of broken (abbreviated) power plays. On some we released different units because of what was happening in the game.

“We quickly forgot that our power play was outstanding on this recent road trip. The last three games weren’t good, but before that we were running at 42% over an eight-game split. Let’s not get carried away. »

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ENGVALL’S END OF GAME

Wing Pierre Engvall’s 30-point season, two shy of his North American professional high with the Marlies, is no surprise in the locker room according to teammate Alex Kerfoot.

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“He has all the tools. He’s another guy like (Ilya Mikheyev) who can create separation for himself. He’s explosive from the run, has a sharp shot that when he gets to an open spot he can tear it up and beat the goalkeepers cleanly.

“He’s another one of those guys who can create offense; it’s not like he needs to play with certain guys or he needs things to fall on him. If he gets the puck in good areas, he can shake things up. He puts everything together and you can see his confidence continues to grow with more ice time and more offensive situations.

Engvall does many things that brought many Swedish journalists to town to highlight one of their own, although such visits this year for all Leafs of Scandinavian descent – ​​like William Nylander, Rasmus Sandin, Timothy Liljegren, Engvall and Erik Kallgren — have been nearly non-existent due to COVID-19 precautions.

LOOSE LEAF

Veteran Jason Spezza was in the lineup to face his draft team after playing just three games this month. Nick Abruzzese sat down…Senators forward Colin White was transferred to COVID-19 protocol just before the game…The Leafs decided to cancel Saturday morning practice, after choosing a hotel downtown that would have required three long bus rides during the day.


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