Sheldon Keefe addressed the media after his team’s 2-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night, dropping the Leafs’ record to 11-3-1 on the season.
On where the game slipped away from the team:
Towards the end of the first period, it started to get away from us. In the first period, I thought we could’ve very easily been up at least 2-0 or 3-0 with some of the point-blank chances we had and missed. I am not sure if that discouraged us or made us think it was going to be a little bit of an easier night. I don’t know what it was.
They had a real strong push coming out of one of the TV timeouts there in the first. I thought we were really disconnected and played tired at the tail end of our shifts, really, for the remainder of the game.
We didn’t make good on the chances that we earned in the first period. We had more than enough offense there to blow the game wide open. We didn’t capitalize or it didn’t go our way. Our game was a mess from there.
On the lack of special teams time, and going 0-for-1 on the power play:
We had our opportunity. Our power play was an area we could maybe look at as an area where it started to go south on us a little bit. We were really disconnected there. We just kind of continued that way. We really struggled to string together passes after that, which I found really bizarre.
At the start of the game, with the way we were making plays and moving the puck, it was as good as we looked for quite some time. It just got away on us there. A lot of things have been going our way here for a long while. Today, it didn’t, and we didn’t help our own case.
We have to regroup and get ourselves ready for what is going to be a very difficult three games against Ottawa.
On the impact of Montreal’s physicality (45 hits) and if it tired the team out or forced the Leafs out of sync:
That would be a factor, for sure. Things were coming relatively easy for us off the start. We didn’t make good on it. It just allowed them to get into the game. They were probably a little frustrated with the way the game started and focused on physicality. I do think that is part of what made us tired and had us playing on the back half of our shift tired.
We had real long shift lengths where we just couldn’t get off the ice and couldn’t string together passes. That was a factor in the game for sure.
On his level of satisfaction with the team’s production at 5-on-5 from the second and third lines:
I think we would like to see more, for sure. I don’t think we are satisfied. I don’t think the players there would be satisfied with it. That said, I think there are a lot of good things happening, especially when I look at JT’s game defensively in comparison to a year ago in terms of how he is playing and the structure he is playing with and what he is not giving up defensively. There is a trade-off there for sure. He, like a lot of guys on our team, is trying to find a way to create offense without giving that defensive stuff up.
Last season, we were creating a ton with our second line and giving up a ton. I think we are trying to find a better balance there. The defensive side of it has been good. We didn’t give up much at all again tonight. We had more than enough offense generated in the first period to win the game. We didn’t make good on it.
You don’t win in this league by playing one period or three-quarters of a period.
On Carey Price’s ability to play the puck and how it disrupted the forecheck:
That is part of it. Every goalie in the NHL, if you just make it easy and give them the puck, is going to start the other team’s breakout and it is hard to forecheck. We had to do more with the pressure. The pressure and numbers they had in the neutral zone didn’t allow us to place the puck where we would want it to get a strong forecheck.
It is a combination there of the job they did clogging the neutral zone. It is not like he was getting out and knocking them down. I thought there were a lot of rolling pucks that came right to him. Especially at the start of the third period, I thought that was definitely a factor.