Sheldon Keefe addressed the media after his team’s 5-2 loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday night, dropping the Leafs’ record to 31-21-8 on the season.
On the team’s performance:
For the first ten minutes of the first period, I thought we were fine. Not a lot was happening, really, either way. I thought we were fine to start to the game and it got away from us. In the second half of the first and all through the second period, for the most part, we weren’t even in the building.
We regrouped and had a really strong third at the start of the third period and put ourselves in a position, obviously, to tie a game. I thought we had some chances even to take a lead and then we get off-kilter there with the penalty call against us. It goes in on us on the penalty kill and we obviously didn’t respond or recover well after that.
On the team’s inability to sustain momentum throughout the game:
To me, it was pretty apparent from the 10-minute mark on that we didn’t have it today. Frankly, I was a little stunned that we even had the surge that we did to start the third just because we didn’t seem to have it today. I was impressed with our team and how we pushed and how we started in that third period. Like I said, we could’ve been ahead in that game. The penalty goes against us and then I didn’t like the response there. It just seemed like we played and defended tired for most of the game. We made life real easy for them.
On Frederik Andersen’s performance:
The one positive I’ll take from the game is that Fred was able to get a lot of work today. Our goalies haven’t had a lot of work for quite some time in terms of the shots and chances against. It is a chance for Fred to get his confidence and get a lot of pucks and a lot of action and a lot of movement of the puck.
Buffalo was really good today. We weren’t good at all, but I was impressed with Buffalo today. I thought they moved the puck. The skill that they had, the depth over all four lines — they didn’t give you any shifts off. All six defense and their goaltender were very strong. He didn’t get a lot of action, but when we did get around the net, we had a number of really good looks and he was excellent for them to not let us get any sort of real momentum.
I was impressed by their team today. It was a lot of action for Fred.
On where his concern level lies:
I mean, this is the worst we have been in a very long time. We haven’t been able to get the results that we are capable of getting, but it seems like each game has been a little bit different in terms of what the issues are. We just looked like we had tired legs all of the ice. We were second to pucks. As a result, we spent way too much time in our own end and we let their skill just kind of pick us apart.
This one — it’s still not a one-off because we haven’t really put our game together for quite some time, but this one was different today because, for most of the game, it didn’t feel like we were in the building at all.
On the challenge of a three-in-four nights schedule with injuries mixed in:
It has been challenging. It has been different things all the time. Last week, we played real good games and put ourselves in positions to win and then don’t close it in the third period. On home ice this week, we were giving up leads early and chasing the game. Here, I thought we had a fine start. We missed a clear-cut breakaway early in the game that maybe could’ve given us some life and gotten us going. We miss it and we’re fine for 10 minutes, then they take it to us. We escaped that period.
It is tough to put a finger on it other than to say that we have to be better. We have to deal with the adversity a little bit better. We need to find more solutions to our depth. Injuries and things that we’ve had — we’re fighting some challenges on our third and fourth lines and on our defense. In the back-to-back, it really revealed itself today against a team as deep as Buffalo is.
On Rasmus Sandin’s injury (later returned to the game):
He blocked a shot so he had to get x-rays. For a time, we weren’t sure he was going to come back, but he showed up on the bench, so it was good for us.
On the challenge ahead against this week against the Penguins (x2):
Their whole team competes very hard and plays with a lot of pace and competitiveness. It will be challenging in that sense. We will get a day off tomorrow and a chance for us to regroup. I think we have responded pretty well any time we’ve taken it on the chin such as today. I thought we were a real tired group, so hopefully, it is a chance for us to take a day off tomorrow and recharge and regroup from a little bit of an embarrassment with how this game went and be ready for what is going to be a significant challenge for us.