Sheldon Keefe addressed the media after his team’s 3-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets on Monday night, improving the Leafs’ record to 3-1-0 on the season.
On Tavares describing the team as more tight-knit:
I definitely agree. What I would attribute it to is just time — more time together, more games, more meetings, more discussions as a group. We have definitely seen progress in a lot of areas.
We leave the game feeling good about the effort the guys put in today. At the same time, I am fairly confident that we will have a number of things to discuss tomorrow about where we can continue to get better. That is obviously very positive. We are still not where we can be. It is going to take us a little more time. We keep getting a little bit better every day.
To get another good win here today, and to have a good second period like we did to set us up, is very positive. There are going to be a number of things we can look at and discuss tomorrow that will help us next time.
On Mikko Lehtonen’s debut and the 11F/7D lineup:
He didn’t play a lot in the second half of the game. I’d have to go back and watch all of his shifts just to see the detail and stuff inside of it. From the bench, when he was out there, I thought he looked confident. He skated well and moved well. When the puck came to him, he didn’t panic. I think today is a good positive step for him.
As for our 11/7, I thought it was fine. There were times where I thought we were a forward short and feeling the effects of not having a guy. Other times, you like it. You are able to get Auston extra shifts in a favourable matchup at different times. Whether it is John, Will or Mitch, those guys are getting extra shifts.
There are pros and cons to it. I think I felt both sides of it here tonight.
On whether the Kerfoot line frees up other lines for more offensive opportunities:
That is the intent behind it — that those guys can give us a really good shift against really anybody and give us a chance to rest our top people and yet still come over the boards in a favourable position. That is the way it is set up.
I’ve got to go back and watch, obviously. I think it was Kerfoot, Mikheyev, and Simmonds that was on a line when we gave up that goal after we made it 2-0. That was a tough shift for us there. As a whole, with Kerfoot, Mikheyev, and Hyman together, they have been giving us real good minutes.
On the strong second period that ended with giving up a goal late:
I felt really good about the period. I didn’t like that we gave up that late one and gave them life. You don’t like it when it is happening. Now, you are through the game and you get the win. You look back through it. We are trying to get better as a team. It is moments like that that are going to allow us to reflect and talk about it as a team and see where we can get better in those areas and understand the importance of it so that on the next night, we can be better.
It didn’t cost us here today. If anything, it made it harder on us today, and hard is good for our team with where we need to grow. We will take our lessons here along the way and make sure we are having the appropriate discussions to keep getting better.
On Andersen’s game and whether the rest day helped on Saturday:
I don’t know how much we can attribute it to that. It is easy, obviously, because that is what happened. You come out today, and that was his best game — just the way he tracked the puck. He looked super calm in there. It is also not a coincidence that it was probably the easiest game he had in front of him tonight. We didn’t give up much at all, and when we did, there wasn’t much in the way of second chances around the net. We did a much better job in that area.
It was a much simpler game for Fred. He looked extremely confident and in control here tonight. That gives us confidence as a team. It should give him confidence, too, that whatever he has done to prepare from the last game to this one benefited him.
On John Tavares’ start to the season (6 points in four games):
I think he is skating really well. He looks really confident with the puck. He looks quicker to me than he did at any point last season. He has put in a lot of work this summer, in the offseason and coming into camp. He is skating really well. He is another guy who really stood out at our camp with how he skated and his conditioning. We are seeing the benefits of that here now. I think he has an extra step, whether that it is on the rush or coming out of the corners in the offensive zone to attack the net, or whether that is coming back into our zone. He looks to me like he has an extra step this season and it is serving him and the team very well.