Sheldon Keefe addressed the media after his team’s 4-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers on Friday night, improving the Leafs’ record to 4-2-0 on the season.
On how the team handled the offense-defense balance:
I thought it took us a little while to really settle into the proper balance. I thought we were pushing offensively early in the game and did generate some good looks in the first period, where we gave up too much. In fact, I thought we gave up in the first period than we gave up in the entire game the other day. But over time, through the game, I thought we settled down in that area. That was a really good sign.
What I like most about the game: In game where we go into it without two very important players for us, in a game where we get down on a shorthanded goal the way that we did, we responded right away. That was a positive sign for us. We get ahead, give up the lead early in the third, get a power play, make good on it, and then finish the job.
Really good signs. Despite having — in Engvall and Brooks’ case — two guys who haven’t played at all, and in Barabanov a guy who hasn’t played much, coming into our lineup, I thought we were steady all the way through.
I thought Fred Andersen was outstanding, and that gave our group confidence to keep playing.
On how the team responded after giving up the 2-2 goal at the start of the third period:
I just like that we didn’t get rattled by that. I’d have to go back and watch the whole sequence and how it all happened, but I thought we actually did a pretty good job of clogging the neutral zone there. We forced them to dump it, and we didn’t get back onto the puck and break out. They get it to the top and tip it. We could do a better job on the stick on the tip, but it is one of those sequences that happen.
I liked that we shrugged it off and kept playing, earned ourselves a power play, and the guys made good on it. Whether it is goaltending, penalty kill, power play — our best players carried it today. Mitch and his efforts, JT’s tip on the winning goal, the good shifts and efforts from the guys who came into the lineup, I thought Wayne Simmonds had his best game — there were a lot of good things to take out of the game that will help us build from here.
On the lack of offensive fireworks in the two-game set:
If you go back and watch the first seven minutes of the first period, I don’t think it was very tight. Fred was great. He kept us in it early there, I thought — either that, or we were able to just get back at the right second and break things up. Things were pretty loose early on.
As the game settled in and the structure took over again, you’ve got two teams that are trying to improve defensively and not be so loose and free in terms of offensive chances and defensive chances. In our case tonight, especially, when you take two-thirds of your top line out and someone like Auston with what he means to our team, we’ve got to play a little bit differently. The group has got to recognize the importance of every shift and how important it is to stay with the structure and the plan. I thought we did that really well today.
I thought our best guys led us. A big-time play by Willy to make that pass for Vesey to finish — that’s another big five-on-five goal from Jimmy Vesey for us. That is a great sign. It’s just a real good team win, which we knew going in it was going to have to be.
On TJ Brodie’s play so far this season:
He has just been a real steady presence for us, whether it be defensively or offensively with how he moves the puck. He has been a really steady, consistent, low maintenance guy who has just come in. Like every player, there is an adjustment period, but he looks really comfortable.
When I talk about our team not getting rattled or fazed by anything that might have occurred in any of our games, he epitomizes that. He just goes out and plays. If he makes a mistake or our team makes a mistake, it doesn’t rattle him. He just goes out and plays his next shift. That is really valuable on defense, in particular.