Sheldon Keefe addressed the media after his team’s 4-0 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday night, bringing the Leafs’ record to 32-22-8 on the season.
On the meaning of tonight after two poor performances:
I think we’ve talked about it before. We’ve shown at different times that this is a group with a lot of character and pride — they showed that today with how they responded.
On Muzzin’s performance after calling out his team following Tuesday’s loss:
Just complete. He battled, he was competitive, shot one in the net, found a way to get a couple of assists, he was all over the game. He was a real leader back there for us
On putting Kerfoot back at centre at re-igniting the third line:
I think it really helps us. That line has really been struggling for us and to find an identity and find some consistency. It was tough for us because I thought Kerfoot was doing an excellent job with John and William and playing well there. Like I talked about today, the acquisition of Malgin gives us an opportunity to give him a look with those guys. I just thought Alex could really bring something back to that line where he had played. We wanted to give him a chance to be a leader and get that line going. The wingers, Engvall and Kappy, are two guys that I think had more to give us and that happened today.
On Andersen’s performance:
He was excellent, he was perfect. Keeps it out of the net but he battled and looked solid there. It was just a really good sign for our team. He made saves when pucks were thrown around the net but there were also a lot of loose ones out there that our guys collapsed on and did not get it out like we would like, but at least get it away from our net.
On the PK:
I thought that the penalty kill came at a really important time in the game with what happened [Tuesday]. It was a good chance for our penalty kill, which had been outstanding for us. In the month leading up to the game in Pittsburgh, we had the number one penalty kill in the NHL so it had been really strong for us. Today was a chance for it to get right back to work.
On Kapanen’s bounce-back game:
That’s what he’s capable of doing. That’s the impact that he has the ability to make on our team. It was really great to see — it just gives us consistency all throughout our lineup. He was really good today in all regards.
On if he was concerned about the team reaching such a low point at a crucial time in the season:
The season is going to bring different things — it’s going to require different things from me, it’s going to require different things from our players. We don’t like how the last little bit has gone — I was excited for the opportunity to get to work yesterday and put in the work to respond against the same team. It has a playoff-like feel to it — you take a beatdown in the first game and you have the chance to regroup and push the team, challenge the team, motivate the team. That’s the best part of this game. I was excited about it and I think our players were, too, and it showed on the ice.
On what he thinks led the team to respond with a good effort:
There was a lot said, a lot done, all that kind of stuff. Part of it though is you just don’t want to get embarrassed. The guys have a lot of pride in themselves and the jersey and the organization. We could have said or done nothing and gotten the same type of response. We don’t really know. The bottom line is, I like that we got the response. I like that we got the result. We got a shutout and didn’t give up much against a very good team.
On using five forwards on the 5-on-3 PP:
I have [done it before], so had Paul Macfarland. It came pretty naturally. On the 5-on-3, we like to have four forwards to have all the creativity and the ability to score. We really think having Hyman with the ability to stand on the net and make it difficult for the goaltender. It’s a good mix for us — unfortunately, that takes Barrie off but we just like that look for those situations.
On defending the lead in the third period:
We’ll talk about it and use those clips as examples. The guys felt it. That’s what we challenged them to do is to continue to play the game with some aggression in terms of how we want to defend on their half of the ice. When we do that, we’re going to get the puck back in our hands and we’re good with that. All the way through, it was a lot of good things and to do it against a good team. It feels good.