Sheldon Keefe addressed the media after his team’s 4-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday night, improving the Leafs’ record to 35-23-8 on the season.
On getting depth scoring from Frederik Gauthier and Martin Marincin:
The depth guys today did a great job for us not only providing offense but they gave us good shifts and worked hard. They carried play for the most part when they were out there. We are asking a lot of our defense to play in different roles than they have all season for most of them. The guys did a good job.
Marty did a good job. He had a tough stretch to end the second period there and he got quite tired — probably his minutes were reaching their limit for a period — but he regrouped and made a big-time play there. I’ve come to only expect highlight-reel goals from Marty. With the Marlies, it seemed like every time he scored it was a memorable goal.
On what he has learned from the team in its three wins this week:
Just what we are capable of when we are going about it properly in terms of our preparation, our habits, our work ethic, and our competitiveness. Frankly, I thought today we weren’t at the same level we were at when we were on the road. The game was just different. The flow of the game was different. I thought that we weren’t as sharp as we were on the road. I didn’t love that, obviously.
But once again, we just responded through that first period and found our way through all the ups and downs of it. The game settled down and we stayed with it. We didn’t generate nearly as much offense as I thought we were capable of or that we would have liked to, but we got enough to win the game. It was not a perfect game defensively by any means, but the volume of shots and activity at our net, with our defense the way that it is and what we are asking everybody to do, I think we’ve done a nice job of everybody stepping up. It has been a collective effort.
On the opportunity to pick up points on the California road trip:
We’ve got to win our games. That is really all that we can focus on. That’s all we can take care of. It is going to be important for us to take this week and feel good about it. We’ve got a little bit of time before we get going and play on Tuesday.
We are going to play against teams that, when you look at .the standings, you’re going to think there is real opportunity for us. But we have been watching those teams and looking at it and they’ve been playing good hockey and beating good teams. They are going to be competitive games but important games nonetheless. We’ve done pretty well on the road. Obviously, this week, we’ve done really well on the road. The sun worked in our favour, so hopefully, that will continue.
On how the team has responded after the debacle vs. Carolina a week ago:
It is a real shock to the system when you have a night like that, right? You’ve really got everyone’s attention. That is really what I would say. It’s funny how you want to look at it, right? You can look at a six-game sample there where we had three games that we pretty messy, or you look at the five-game sample and four of the five — Pittsburgh on home ice, the two road games and today — and the connection is just that we had a wakeup call there.
Heading on the road, we had the guys attention and they recognized the importance of getting their stuff together. They responded well this week. But it is going to be tough the rest of the way all the way through and we can’t have any lapses.
On Tyson Barrie’s play post-trade deadline:
I think he has played well. I don’t know whether it is trade deadline [related]. Perhaps it is. Perhaps it’s part of it for our team, too, frankly. Things have settled. We know who our group is. There may be perhaps more of a connection to that than last Saturday.
Tyson is the type of player that needs to be free in his mind. He needs to have some clarity and just go out and play. That was part of what I was hoping to provide for him when I arrived and he was struggling. Perhaps that is something that was weighing on him. In terms of how he has interacted around the team, I haven’t noticed it.
We’ve learned on him a lot more — not a lot more in terms of his play, but just him being around the team and the youth and inexperience of our defense. He has been relied upon more in that sense.
On the team’s reaction on the bench to Martin Marincin’s goal:
It was a great reaction on the bench. The guys are obviously happy for the goal in and of itself, but when a player like that kind of steps outside of himself a little bit… First of all, it was a great shot and great play by Marty, but it was a really great breakout by us. We got the puck to John, who made a great play to find Marty. It was a really good process for us coming out of our zone. We felt really good about the exit and then the initiative of Marty to finish it and go right up and take his shot rather than just dumping it into the corner or whatever. It is a big moment in the game for us for sure.
It is always nice to see a guy like that gets it. He takes a lot of heat around here and he has bounced around and in and out and all of that kind of stuff. He is a guy, when you call upon him, he gives you everything that he has. It’s all you can ask for.