After practice on Monday, head coach Sheldon Keefe discussed the lineup decisions ahead of Tuesday night’s rematch against the Flames as well as the incident involving Matthew Tkachuk and Jack Campbell at the end of Sunday night’s win.
On the team’s first road trip, how has the situation with Covid and social distancing outside of the rink affected team bonding?
Keefe: We do have a meal room set up — a really large ballroom that allows proper distancing and all of those kinds of things. You get what you can out of those environments. But it is a challenge. It is important to maximize the time you get at the arena. From what I have seen, it hasn’t been an issue for our group. I think it speaks to the personalities and the character of the personalities we have here. That has really helped that cause.
Jack Campbell wasn’t at practice today, and Jason Spezza wasn’t on a regular line. Can you tell us what is going on there?
Keefe: Jack wasn’t available today. We just have to continue to let things settle down there and get him evaluated to figure out what his situation might be going forward. We’ll have an update there.
With Spezza, he is not going to play tomorrow. We are going to keep him out of the lineup. The schedule being what it has been to this point, it has been busy. We want to give Spezza a chance to take tomorrow off, and then we’ve got another day off after that as a team before we get ready for Edmonton.
At the same time, it allows us to take a look at some of our other guys we want to give some opportunities to play.
It looked like Joey Anderson is one guy you want to give a chance to. What kind of a spark could he bring to the team?
Keefe: He has good energy and good legs. He moves his feet. He is a smart player. His situational awareness is very good. We think he had a very good camp with us — just another one of those guys that is in a very tough spot and doesn’t really get a chance to show through exhibition. In intrasquad games and practices, he has looked good.
He has a real good attitude. He has good energy about him. He would be excited to go. He is definitely one of those guys we want to give a look to.
Did you see what happened involving Jack Campbell and Matthew Tkachuk in the dying stages?
Keefe: I think I know what you are referring to, but I didn’t take it as anything, really. I haven’t thought about it or discussed it. It is a non-issue for me.
When you look at the Flames as a whole, are the Leafs going into the second half of the back-to-back focusing on the Flames as opposed to Matthew Tkachuk? What are the dangers of focusing on one player?
Keefe: I don’t think about one player ever. I think about the entire team and the challenge that is the Calgary Flames.
We haven’t had any discussions as a team or with any of our players about anything but how to beat Calgary.
"Just a classic thing to try & accuse me of there."
— Tim and Sid (@timandsid) January 25, 2021