Keefe praises Nylander's 'swagger' after leading Leafs to Sweden sweep
William Nylander was the star of the show during the Toronto Maple Leafs' two-game sojourn to Sweden, and he received nothing but praise from his head coach after scoring the overtime winner Sunday against the Minnesota Wild.
"He's got such confidence and swagger there now that he's just feeling like he can turn the game at any point in time," Sheldon Keefe said postgame, per David Alter of The Hockey News.
"I don’t think he'd look at these two games, but he stepped up in big moments. It was a huge part of why we got four points here."
Nylander also registered an assist in the contest and extended his season-opening point streak to 17 games. In Friday's game against the Detroit Red Wings, the Swedish winger recorded a goal and two helpers to engineer a Toronto comeback win.
As one of the biggest names to travel to his home country for the NHL's Global Series, Nylander faced several off-ice obligations on top of regular hockey duties. His ability to handle the added pressure impressed Keefe.
"I just think he’s unflappable, that’s really it," he said. "Whether it’s the spotlight of playing in Toronto and the media and all the different things that come with being a Maple Leaf, I don’t think that phases him. I think he loves it and enjoys it. He lives here in Sweden’s biggest city and you can see he's a bit of a rock star here and we learned that."
Nylander's performance in Stockholm brought him to 27 points this season, good for a second-place tie with Nikita Kucherov and David Pastrnak in the league's scoring race. The Leafs' forward is in the final year of his contract and is currently on pace to shatter the career highs in goals (40) and points (87) he set in 2022-23.
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