Sheldon Keefe spoke to the media following the Maple Leafs big 2-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning.
On the up and downs of the game:
The penalty kill and power play were clearly a difference in the game today, not unlike what it was when we were down in Tampa. It was good for us — obviously a really good start to the game in the first period, we were in control of it right until the end of the period. Our game got away from us in the second, both with taking penalties and just how we played. We didn’t like that, obviously. We gave them the game back and we gave them momentum. It’s a very good team that’s not going to allow us to outshoot them all the way through the game — they’re going to have a push. I thought we made it easy on them in the second but the third period was a big period for us. We had to go out with that intention that this is a big period for us, recognize that it’s a far more important period for us than it is for them. We needed our effort and our play to reflect that. I thought we had a good period and pushed, then the powerplay gets the goal for us. It’s a big two points.
This is another really close hockey game that we’ve had to play in here. Of course, 5-on-5 we don’t produce a goal today and that’s been a challenge for us. Against one of, if not the best, offensive team in the NHL, we didn’t give up a great deal. Once we did, obviously Freddy was outstanding, in the third period especially. We took two big points tonight that are clearly more important to us then they are to the opponent.
On Morgan Rielly’s first game back from injury:
I thought he was really good, all things considered. He hasn’t played so that’s a tough game, especially in that second period. It’s hard for our defence to get off the ice and they were really coming. It looked like it was really taking its toll on him physically in terms of his conditioning. It’s one thing to train but the game is a whole different ball game.
Just his legs, the way that he skates, all of a sudden he just jumps into a hole whether it’s offensively or defensively. His instincts on the offensive blueline make a real difference for us. It was real nice to have him.
On the opening period:
We’ve talked a lot about our starts and consistency in our play. I thought we started really well — it’s a combination of a really good start for us but I don’t think it was a very good start for Tampa. If you’re their coach over there, you’re probably not loving how they started. I thought we moved the puck extremely well. It was a game that was played with the puck on our stick a lot and that benefits us greatly. We just kept coming and had lots of chances and lots of time with the puck, so it was a really good period for us in that sense. We didn’t have to defend really much at all, which is really what you’re trying to do.
On adjustments made to the PP:
We wanted to get the puck to the net a lot quicker. We did that on the first goal — right off the faceoff the puck arrives there and Will is in a really good spot. The power play needs to be a big difference-maker for us. It wasn’t when we were out West. I think we could probably come away with certainly more than one point if the powerplay got a little finish. We need it to be a difference-maker and it was today.
On the Engvall-Kerfoot-Malgin line:
I thought that they skated well, all three of them. I don’t know how the minutes ended up shacking out in terms of their overall play and how much they got out there. To me, Kerfoot’s doing a lot of good things that aren’t showing up on the scoresheet — he’s skating really well through the neutral zone. We’re trying to get more from Engvall and Malgin to really put together a line. Obviously, Kapanen when he was there was really giving us some good minutes, but we thought we needed the boost from him in the top six today.
On the Gauthier line:
There were times today where they gave up the puck a little bit but that line has really been working — Gauthier and Clifford on the forecheck getting the puck back and then Spezza able to make some plays. We got some good minutes from the bottom six today, which is an important thing when you’re playing this team.