Sheldon Keefe addressed the media after his team’s 2-1 victory over the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday night, improving the Leafs’ record to 12-3-2 on the season.
On Frederik Andersen’s performance and the plan in net for tomorrow:
Fred was really solid today. Lots of activity in and around him. Lots of traffic. Lots of pucks flying around. I thought he definitely handled it well. He did his job and gave us a chance to win.
As for tomorrow, with both him and the goaltending position and a lot of other situations with our team, we are going to give it the night and make some decisions tomorrow. Some of them likely won’t be until game time.
On how the team got the job done despite a slow first period:
Our start wasn’t a good one. Ottawa was definitely the better team in the first period. The game in the first period was a lot more like what we expected it to be like in the first game in terms of just how Ottawa defended. It was a much different game in terms of the offensive pieces — a lot harder to get through the neutral zone, a lot harder to get to the net, a lot harder to get off the wall.
All of those things weren’t really the case the first time out. We had prepared for it the first game, and it didn’t really play out that way. It took us some time to really adjust. Ottawa was playing extremely well and playing to their structure perfectly. It took some time for us to stay with that.
At the same time, we talked to our team about how it was clear the way the night was going, it was going to be one where you have to earn your offense, keep your patience, keep your structure. I thought we did that for the most part.
I didn’t like the goal we gave up. I thought that was a time we made it too easy. We had three guys going the wrong way and a puck got in behind us. There were some other things we definitely want to clean up.
It was another one of those games that was really close. You have to stay disciplined and committed. We got some good penalty kills and a big goal from Kerf. We found a way to get our two points.
On how the Tavares-Nylander pairing has been playing:
I think they haven’t gotten the results, obviously, in terms of it going over the line. I think as we break it down — and even as I go back and look at that first game — there were a lot of really good things that they are doing in terms of forechecking and earning pucks back.
John definitely had some great opportunities today. It didn’t fall for him. I like what I see from it. We know what Hyms can bring to any line that he is on. He just stays the same. Through these two games, despite not getting the results, those guys have done a good job. It is just a matter of time before it falls.
On starting Tavares-Nylander for the opening faceoff and playing them more:
A little bit of both. We had been going a lot with the Matthews line to start every game the last little while. Certainly, those guys are rolling. Usually, we would kind of bounce around between Auston and John in terms of who starts.
We looked at the matchup on the Ottawa side to start the game and decided to go that way. I thought those guys had good legs.
I have a role to play to get those guys going and give them the opportunities to get rolling as a line.
On Joe Thornton’s play, the two called-off goals, and his work at the net on the game-winning Kerfoot goal:
It is a big part of what he does. You see the difference it makes today. Two get called back, but he is right there doing all the right things. He stays with it. It doesn’t go in for him, but he clears the way and Kerf puts it in for us. It is the difference in the hockey game. It is some of those small details that end up making the difference.
It was good not just for him but our whole team. It is such a tight game. It is tough to generate offense. You get two goals that are called off on you. I really liked how our team responded to those. We didn’t get rattled and didn’t get fazed.
We look at it and made the determination not to challenge, either, because I thought they were pretty cut and dry. We have studied a lot of these different scenarios and how these calls go historically. We didn’t feel like either was going to have a chance to be overturned. We just went with it. I thought our guys just kept playing. Finally, a bounce goes our way at the end.
On Thornton’s comment that Auston Matthews should be in consideration for both the Hart and the Selke:
First off, it is early in the season and it is silly to have such conversations, but it is pretty obvious, if you watch him and you are paying attention, that Auston has been dominant in all regards — on the ice, offensively, defensively. Our team has improved a lot defensively for sure. Both Auston and John, as our top two centers, have led the way there.