Sheldon Keefe spoke to the media after his team’s 3-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday night, dropping the Leafs’ record to 13-13-4 on the season.
On the overall effort:
I thought our guys competed. I thought we stayed in the game all the way through it. At times, when they had they pushes, I thought we withstood it fine and then had pushes of our own. Obviously , I really liked how our penalty kill dug-in in that third period and found its way through a tough task. We were set up pretty well after that. Of course, getting the power play thereafter, we don’t like how that one finished. All in all, I liked the fight in our team. We just have to find ways to generate more offense.
On Johnsson’s injury sustained during the second period:
The only update is that he was too sore to return. It’s not looking like anything serious at this point, but we’d love to get some x-rays and stuff like that.
On the amount of line mixing that happened during the game:
You lose Johnsson and it does change things quite a bit, and we’re trying to spark something and we’re trying to score; trying to move things around. I do intend on moving things around there with those top guys, but probably not as much as I had to there in the third.
On Spezza’s mistake on the power play in the third period that led to the winning goal:
Yeah, that’s a tough play. I’m sure he’d like to have that one back, but things happen on the ice. It was unfortunate how that one worked out, but I don’t think there was any ill-intent there at all from him.
On the PK’s work tonight:
Obviously, the first one, the goal went in in a hurry for us, so your confidence is not quite there. When you’re going in and have to kill the double minor, the guys did a terrific job all the way through it. I thought it was a big moment in the game — gave us momentum. We get the power play soon thereafter. We couldn’t get anything really established. We shot and missed the net, then didn’t really get things going from there. Worst case scenario for it to end up in our net at the end of it.
On how the team can draw more penalties:
That’s a good question. It’s one I’ve been asking. It’s not the first time for this team — last season, there were long stretches of the same situation. We’ve got to figure that out. The natural thing for me to say is we’ve got to get the puck to more dangerous areas and attack the middle of the ice a lot more. We do have to skate a little bit harder and be a little more competitive to fight for things that would perhaps cause infractions.
It is a concern and it’s something we have to look at. We probably need to get back to last season and identify things we can do better. Now, we don’t take a lot of penalties, either, and that in itself can create a situation where you’re not going to get a lot. We certainly want to be generating more than we are.
On the defensive execution tonight:
That’s a very good team — a rested team — sitting here waiting for us. We played that not too long ago ourselves, but just watching them in the pre scouts, they’re feeling pretty good about themselves and scoring a lot. It was a challenge for us defensively today. I thought the urgency was fine, but I thought that some of the things we’ve been working on weren’t there at times — not so much yesterday, but today.
I thought we withstood a pretty potent offense, particularly with that top line. While our attention has gone there, we’ve got away from some of the things we focused on offensively early on and I think that’s caused us to reverse back to some things that we don’t necessarily like.
On the goaltending situation:
When Freddy was pushing us to let him compete with his teammates here tonight, we said that would be one of the things we’d have to make an adjustment on and get Hutch a game on the road here coming up. We don’t know exactly which one, but we intend on doing that.
On the reason for changing the D-pairs tonight:
We just thought that, given the back-to-back and the challenge of the game today, a change would be good. We changed not only the pairs but the matchups, just to try to give guys some different looks. We also spread it out today and shared the minutes better. Just trying some different things.
On Muzzin-Holl as a matchup pair:
We wanted to see what it looked like. The challenge was great for them today. We think Holl’s been making really great progress — not just in his defending but using his feet and his skating to move the puck up the ice, which is a big part of playing against other team’s best players. Muzzin has done that a great deal over his career. We wanted to give that a try today and, for the most part, we liked it.
On Rielly-Barrie’s performance in their first full game together:
That’s something I’d have to look at closer. We tried to get them in offensive situations and get them out there with the Matthews line as much as we could. I’d have to look a bit closer. I don’t think we generated the amount of offense we’d like with those two guys playing together.