Sheldon Keefe addressed the media after his team’s 5-2 loss to the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday night, dropping the Leafs’ record to 34-24-8 on the season.
On the team’s performance:
They played really hard against us. We just finished a stretch where we played against some of the top teams in the league. For me, that was a harder game for us to play today because of the pace the puck moved and the pace that their feet moved and how competitive they were. Our inability to respond to that and find another level in our game caused us a problem where the ice titled in the second period and we just couldn’t get it back. That was real tough.
The third period, to me, was pretty even. We just gave up some chances that ended up in our net. The second period was where they really started to establish their game and took it to us. As strange as it is, that is the one that we win — we win that period of the three. We were in a good spot to try to play there in the third but we gave up too many chances and it ended up costing us. You don’t win games when you score two goals.
On Jack Campbell’s performance:
I thought he battled. Through that second period, there were a lot of shots and pucks coming at him. He made some great saves for us there to keep us in the game and give us a chance to win that period and set us up for the third. Some of the goals, when you look at the goals that went in, there was some funny stuff happening with the battling behind the net and the goal line. He battled and made saves for us.
As I said, their goaltender made saves, too. We had some real high-end chances that didn’t go in for us. We’ve got to find a way to generate more than two goals if we want to have a chance to win. We can’t give up nearly what we gave up today.
A lot of things that haven’t been issues for us in terms of odd-man rushes against and guys getting in behind us — we have been talking about how we’ve cleaned that up pretty well. They came back into our game today in part due to the pace of the play. We just didn’t respond well to it.
On what can be learned from the loss:
If there is anything to learn, it is that the other teams have good players, too. They played really well today. We didn’t play nearly good enough and didn’t find another level. They also didn’t let us get going or let us have our way. Their best players were really good today. They’ve got some really good forwards there spread out throughout their group. For a majority of the game, they’ve got elite defensemen on the ice that make it hard for you to kind of get things going. They’ve had a tough season here, but they played a good game today. When they get saves, they’re a tough team to play against.
On whether it was effort or execution:
I think it is both. Effort is a big one. As I said, it was our inability to rise to a different pace of play. We were in Tampa last week and we were playing against Florida and some of the top teams in the league, but that was at a higher pace today. Credit to them and how the played. I obviously don’t like our ability to respond to it.
It is going to continue for us. We are going to play an LA team now that, when we looked at the games coming in, is playing as good as anyone on this trip and beating good teams and making it hard for them to play against.
This trip is not an easy one for us and we are off to a tough start.
On whether the team was doing enough in regards to getting into shot lanes defensively:
There are a lot of things that go into the game that lead to us being in those positions. You can pick that, sure. A lot of it is just as I said — the competitiveness and the urgency of the game really increased and we didn’t respond well to that. We have in the last week, but today we didn’t for whatever reason. I thought the first period was good for us and we were fine despite the fact that they scored a power play goal and we didn’t.
In the second period, the game really titled, and as strange as it is, that is the one we get the two goals in. We were in a position to at least win the game and get a point in the third period. We let it get away on us with the chances we gave up. We’ve got to play a lot better than that.