Sheldon Keefe addressed the media after his team’s 6-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night, dropping the Leafs’ record to 13-12-4 on the season.
On how the narrative changed as the game wore on and the team collapsed:
Definitely, it is a different narrative and leaves a different taste in your mouth how the game finished for sure. I thought we didn’t play a great game by any means, but we are right there throughout the hockey game. I thought we obviously let it get away on us there at the end. First of all, the 3-1 goal, and then our response after giving up the empty-net goal was not what we want to be about.
On whether he needed to give the team a scolding after:
We talked. Normally, I would not go in after a loss or a game like this, but I thought it was important to address that situation. We want to be a team of high character that cares for one another. I thought we just left our goaltender completely out to dry there and stopped playing. That is not a good sign for our group, but hopefully, it is the shake up that we would need.
As I look back at the game, as the third period was unfolding, I think we saw two different teams: One team that had kind of figured out how to win and knows what its recipe is, and then our side that is trying to find its way. I think that is the difference in the game.
On what led to what happened after the 3-1 goal:
The third goal is pretty dejecting, obviously. I thought that goal itself was indicative of different points in the game where the game is going along just fine and we lose our focus and then our defensive play lacks and we have defensive breakdowns that open up the game and give them chances. That goal was dejecting for sure, but we had a chance. We had people on the ice to make a push and it doesn’t happen for us, and then we put our other lines on the ice and they don’t have a response, either. It’s a tough way to go, but in the big picture, it’s probably a better way for it to finish for us to get the shakeup perhaps that we need going into tomorrow’s game.
On the level of disappointment after the previous five games:
The other games didn’t go this way, either. There was a lot of good things in the game, I thought, as well, and we’ll focus on those as much as we can. There was some progress for us in a lot of areas, but the reality is it’s a 60-minute hockey game. There will be a lot of attention put on what happens after the third goal — after the empty-net goal there — and rightfully so, but there were a lot of things where we have to be better throughout the game and stay consistent every shift.
On the shifts where he put Tavares with Matthews:
It is. It is something, frankly, I’ve wanted to do throughout my time here, but the circumstances haven’t quite been right. Today, for different reasons — what was happening in the game, coming out of penalties, the fact that we needed a goal — it was kind of just mixing it up that way.
On whether he got what he wanted out of Tavares playing with Mikheyev and Spezza:
I thought that both that line and our third line — we probably didn’t get what we wanted out of that. There was a little out of sorts. There were good moments for each line, I thought, but it wasn’t clicking the way that I hoped it would.
On whether this was a teachable moment on how to address the team:
Over time, you get to know the games a little bit better and you get to know the tendencies and strengths and weaknesses. There are certain things you want to tackle on a team basis in terms of structure and things like that, and certain things you want to tackle individually. Over time, I am starting to learn that a little bit. We will continue to make strides, but we don’t have a lot of time. We get right back at it tomorrow against a very good team waiting in Toronto. We’ve got to regroup here very quickly. Hopefully, the way this game finished will leave a sour enough taste in our mouth that we will come out tomorrow ready to show we are a different group.