Sheldon Keefe addressed the media after his team’s 4-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday night, improving the Leafs’ record to 15-13-4 on the season.
On Frederik Andersen’s performance:
He just gives our team confidence. We know he’s going to be there. Obviously, we don’t want to have to rely on him as we did on the breakaways. It is great that he was up to the challenge for us, of course. Those are game-changing saves that you need. I thought, save for those breakaways, we did a good job of protecting him. Any time that they were threatening the net, I thought it was happening from the perimeter. We feel pretty strongly that if teams are going to threaten from the perimeter, Freddy is going to handle those quite easily. That is seemingly the case here of late, so that is really good for us. But he made game-changing saves when we need them.
On generating offense from the middle of the o-zone:
This is a game we are going to have to watch back on video and see what happened. A lot of stuff happened real quickly out there. That is the fastest game I have been a part of in the league in terms of the speed and competitiveness overall in the game from start to finish. It is going to take us a little time to really process what happened, but I thought when we got there, we were able to make good on the chances and that is a good sign.
On the breakaways against:
The breakaways — the ones I am thinking of — come off of turnovers off of entries where we force a play a little bit to the middle of the ice and then it’s a turnover and a quick transition. That is part of their strategy today — to catch us in those transition situations and get themselves going quickly the other way. We fed into that a little bit and obviously don’t like that. But we survive it and get through it and they’re very teachable moments for us. That is very positive.
What I really liked about our team is just how we competed from start to finish through the game. There were mistakes, for sure, but the guys competed really hard today. Probably the biggest thing I’ll take away from it is just how we composed ourselves late in the third period there and generated enough in the offensive zone to settle the game down, make a play, and virtually end the game with that goal.
On balancing riding the hot hand versus giving Andersen rest:
That is part of it, but the schedule has been favourable for us in that regard. Tomorrow, we’re going to give our whole team a day away from the rink and regroup after this effort here today knowing that we have two tough games remaining on the trip. We’re getting to that point now where the trip starts to be a bit of a grind on you, so we are going to take a day away from the rink tomorrow and use it as a chance to regroup, and make a decision about goaltending from there.
On whether there were signs of progress carrying forward from the Colorado and St. Louis games:
The real progress I saw today was just how we stayed with it to the end. We didn’t fade. They made it 2-1, and while we still didn’t like some of the moments where we fed into their transition and all of that, I just thought when we had our chance, we composed ourselves, we relaxed, and some of our best players made plays to finish the game for us. That is a really good sign — when things are stressful, we can go back to relying on playing with the puck and settling it down and trying to take advantage of a team that is trying to push and go the other way.
On Justin Holl’s contributions offensively (2a):
He can contribute that way for sure. I think the strength of his offensive game is his ability to skate the puck up the ice, but also his mobility in the offensive zone. We are trying to involve all of our defensemen more.
I thought that was a positive today. I thought Tyson Barrie was all over the zone and had some really good looks and put himself in good spots today. Morgan Rielly does the same — it’s the most I’ve seen him engaged offensively since I’ve been here. Those are positives signs for us and both those guys played really well.