Sheldon Keefe addressed the media after his team’s 5-4 overtime victory over the Anaheim Ducks on Friday night, improving the Leafs’ record to 29-19-7 on the season.
On his feelings about the game after giving up a multi-goal third-period lead:
No excitement. Concern? Concern is probably a stretch. Disappointed with the fact that we had a chance here today and we were set up again in the third period. Right from the drop of the puck in the third, we were just on our heels. It just seems like we are lacking some confidence in those situations. It’s almost like we are waiting or expecting something bad to happen. It’s not what we want to be about. Clearly, when we play like that, we are not a very good team.
We need to get on our toes and get our swagger and get our confidence. It is crazy how quickly things turn here. We were sitting here on Friday and played like a fragile group there. There were chunks of the game I didn’t like, either. The way we ended the second period wasn’t very good. I look back to Monday and I look at those first two periods especially, and they were probably the two best periods we have played since I have been here — defensively especially. We just took pride in giving the opposition nothing and seemed to be enjoying that. There were parts of the second period that we seemed to be doing the same kind of thing. We just let it get away there.
I am happy we get our two points, of course. That’s what we need. But we need to be a whole lot better than that in those situations.
On restoring confidence after the team’s performances this week:
We’ve got to get through this. As I said, I think back to Monday and how things turn. Now we’re a team that can’t protect a third-period team, but before this week started, I think we were 15-1 going into the third period with the lead. It wasn’t really an issue. The one game in Calgary it got away from us. But other than that, we were a team doing a really good job in third periods.
We are not that far removed from it. We are also not that far removed from our efforts in Nashville and Dallas and battling and finding a way against a gritty Ottawa team. We had two good periods against our rival in Florida. We aren’t that far away from it. It turns quickly. We are going to have to get it back on the right side of it quickly here. Saturday night in Montreal is going to be a good challenge for us.
On the performances of new additions Kyle Clifford and Jack Campbell:
I thought Cliff gave us lots of energy. He is a lot better skater and a lot more skill than showed up on the video or was advertised. He was engaged and involved in the game. On the first goal, I think he showed he wasn’t quite up to speed on our defensive-zone coverage there. But I just thought he brought lots of energy and it was good to get him going.
I thought Campbell, especially late in that second period, he hadn’t gotten much work in the second at all and all of a sudden we gave them two or three really good looks at the end of the period and he made big saves, which I thought was really good and healthy for us. It gave us some confidence going into the third period that we were going to be okay and we could build off of that. That was what we were hoping would happen and it didn’t. That is disappointing, but we’re happy to get him his first win.
On Matthews’ overall game and hitting 40 goals in 55 games:
It is a really good question where you say, “overall.” I think that’s really what has happened here. The offense has been there and it will always be there, I think, but his complete game is not getting enough attention. When the puck turns over, if you really focus in on him, he is really digging in. His first three strides are real quick with lots of urgency. He is understanding the value of having the puck and getting it back quickly. He is really leading the way for us in a lot of those regards.
In the first half of this game, especially, it was a real clinic from him in that regard. He was really feeling it. I am happy he gets the 40 and that he is filling the net the way he is, but he has also really, really figured out the other side of it and is doing it consistently.
On whether William Nylander will be back for the game in Montreal:
I am unsure about that. He is not going to travel with us tonight. We’re just going to see how he is when he wakes up tomorrow.
On whether Jack Campbell will start again on Saturday in Montreal:
It is still to be determined. We’ll talk about that on the plane and come to a decision one way or the other.
On the performance of the Sandin-Liljegren pair:
I just thought that they played really good hockey. They moved the puck really well. Obviously, we were careful with Lily and were trying to ease him into it and I’ll have to watch the video back, but I thought he was really good and confident. He made real good transitions and moved the puck with authority. It seemed like he didn’t make any real mistakes that stood out to me.
Sandin, of course, we have come to expect that with. He is playing a little bit more. But I thought Liljegren was really good for us. That was a real positive step for him and for us.
On Jason Spezza’s 4-3 goal:
That was an elite goal. He has that ability. He still has that. He hasn’t lost that. He also made a few plays in tight in different spots on the power play especially. This Anaheim team pressures the puck on the penalty kill better than anybody in the league that we’ve seen. He is under a lot of pressure and he makes a lot of good plays with how he protects the puck in tight like elite players can do. Regardless of age, you don’t lose that in terms of ability. He is an elite player in that sense. He showed it on that goal. It is a big-time goal for us. It was a shame it wasn’t the winner.