Sheldon Keefe addressed the media after his team’s season-opening 5-4 overtime victory over Montreal.
On the team’s sloppiness defensively:
It was the first game of the season here, and the first game playing at that tempo. We just had a pretty emotional comeback win here for our first game, so I am not going to get too nitpicky. We’ll get better every day.
On Nylander’s shot and explosiveness tonight:
He was a pretty explosive player last season, too. He is a great talent. He has come in really motivated and driven to continue to be a difference-maker and take it to another level. We have had a lot of pretty blunt discussions between him and I about where he needs to continue to get better away from the puck. He has bought into that.
It goes hand in hand. When he is competing away from the puck, he is more engaged. He is more involved in the game. He was really good today. He and John were both really good.
On Joe Thornton’s game next to Matthews and Marner:
I thought they were good. I’d have to watch the video back for all of our lines and the whole game. I thought, when he got the puck, he put it in good spots and made a play with it. He was around the net at different times. He came up with a couple of pucks on the forecheck. He looked like he had legs, even in the third period. I was watching him and he had some really good tracks and returns back into our own end — lots of legs and energy despite playing a lot with the way the game went. I thought it was a good game for him.
On Matthews looking in pain on the bench at the end of regulation:
I think it was a bit of a stinger. I understand he is okay. He didn’t hesitate when I asked him if he was good to go for OT.
On his first season debut behind the bench:
Once the game starts, you’re caught up in it. It just feels like hockey. The guys are competing. You’re into it. When you are coaching behind the bench, you are making a decision every couple of seconds. You are too engaged in it to really get caught up in it. Once the puck drops, it just feels like you’re in a game.
At the start of it, when it really gets going in a home opener like this, it is where you really felt the no fans. The home opener, in particular for your new players and incoming guys, it is a great opportunity to connect with fans and recognize them with guys like Joe and Simmonds coming back here to Toronto, Ontario. You miss out on those kinds of moments.
We miss our fans in such a fun, back-and-forth type of game like this. It would’ve been nice to have them here. We are going to have to get used to this since it is all we’ve got. Hopefully, we are able to entertain people at home.