Sheldon Keefe addressed the media after his team’s 7-4 win over the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday night, improving the Leafs’ record to 25-16-6 on the season.
On Rasmus Sandin’s confidence in his first game (two assists):
The biggest thing about Sandy’s game is poise. When you have that, you don’t get fazed by where you are at. He has that in spades. He showed it again today.
On the team’s effort overall:
I liked it. I thought our first period was really good. I liked a lot about that. Of course, I liked that we were able to score goals again today. I didn’t like our second period at all. This has happened to us before where the third period is where the puck ends up in our net, but I actually liked a lot about our third period. The second period, to me, with the puck offensively, was one of the poorest periods we’ve had since I’ve been here.
I thought we cleaned that up a lot in the third period with how we handled the puck and how we maintained the puck. We just had some breakdowns again where guys got in behind us. We don’t like to see that, but I much rather see it in a game like this, where we can continue to nail down it and teach on it rather than when it is 0-0 or is really going to hurt us. Today, I think it helps our cause to continue to nail down on that.
On what has given him the confidence to stick with Hyman – Matthews – Marner:
We just feel like there is some good chemistry going on there. We want to give more time for JT and Willy to play together. We are trying to find the right fit there. Obviously, we tried Engvall with them today. We wanted to get Kerfoot back in the middle. We thought there are pieces of Pierre’s game that can help John and Willy. We really like what we see with that trio with Matthews.
On Jason Spezza hitting 1,100 games:
To me, the way he approaches the game is like a guy who is 10 years younger — every day. He has a great passion for the game. It keeps him hungry and keeps him working every single day. He wants more all the time. He wants more information. He wants more touches in practice. He wants more time with the skills coaches. He is hungry all the time to just stay sharp and continue to work to get better. That really sets the tone for our team.
On what the power play time does for Rasmus Sandin’s confidence:
I would think it would help him. I’ve seen the impact he can make on the power play with his poise and also his ability to get the puck to the net. He really transformed the power play for us with the Marlies last year. When he got healthy, our power play went from one of the worst in the league to one of the best. I felt pretty strongly that he would be able to give us something there on that second unit today.
On what Pierre Engvall can bring to the Tavares line:
How he skates and how he works. That line was having some real trouble leaving the offensive zone and getting caught. A lot of these chances that we have been giving up have been coming from that line. We wanted Pierre to really help with that cause. The fact that he can track and skate and get back the way that he does… Now, he didn’t do it in the third period here today, and we’ll be talking about that, but I thought throughout the game he did. There were times he was in good spots and really helped those guys.
On how Martin Marincin fit in next to Tyson Barrie:
I thought he was really good. I haven’t really watched the video back, but there were a number of times I caught myself saying, “Great job, Marty.” I also thought he was excellent on the penalty kill today. We’ve come to expect that, but he is giving us a lot of good minutes.
I liked our defense a whole today. We got caught a couple of times pushing the envelope a little bit — Dermott in the second period, and we got scored on that. These are good teaching points for us. I liked that they happened when we had a nice comfortable lead, but it just shows that we’ve got to continue to work at that.