After practice on Sunday, Sheldon Keefe discussed the status of Auston Matthews and Frederik Andersen for Monday night’s rematch in Edmonton, the Mikheyev – Engvall – Hyman line, and the team’s confidence level coming off one of its best wins of the season on Saturday.
Practice Lines – February 28
Today's @MapleLeafs practice lineup in Edmonton:
Andersen, Hutchinson, Woll
— Leafs PR (@LeafsPR) February 28, 2021
How did Auston Matthews look out there and what is his status here today?
Keefe: He has progressed here today compared to where he has been in the last few days. That is very positive. He is not ruled out for tomorrow. We are just going to have to see how he is.
Was he limited in any way in practice? Was he able to do all the drills?
Keefe: I would say he was limited, yeah. He wasn’t on a regular line and he didn’t do all of the reps.
Are there any things from last night that you are looking to improve on, figuring that Edmonton will come out with a strong push?
Keefe: Yes, absolutely. First of all, we know that Edmonton is going to have that push. There are things we can continue to do better throughout the game. We talked about some of those things here before practice, and then we got on the ice and worked at them.
What is Jack Campbell’s status today?
Keefe: We gave him the day off here today. Coming off of the injury that he has, we want to make sure that we manage that properly.
All things considered, are you thinking Campbell will be back in tomorrow?
Keefe: With Campbell and Fred’s situations, we have a lot of things to sort through here. I don’t suspect we will get it sorted out until tomorrow night.
How did you feel about Pierre Engvall’s game last night and how he has been playing in general?
Keefe: I liked his game a lot. I thought he skated very well. When he is skating like that, and in particular when he has Mikheyev and Hyman on his wings skating and working the way that they are, it makes the line real hard to play against. It helps us defensively. I liked a lot of things about his game and felt really confident putting him on the ice.
Is Frederik Andersen a possibility to play tomorrow?
Keefe: It is not looking that way if we are being honest. With his injury, basically where we are at here now is waiting for him to be comfortable. Today, he was on the ice for the better part of an hour and took lots of shots. We are essentially just waiting for him to feel comfortable. We don’t know when that will be, but today was a very positive step towards that.
Whether it is goaltending or it is Auston up front or some of our other situations, we will have a lot of question marks that we probably won’t have answered until tomorrow.
It’s not often teams keep both Draisaitl and McDavid off of the scoreboard. What has to happen tomorrow night to repeat that feat?
Keefe: I think we have to continue to have the level of commitment defensively when the puck changes hands. We have to be in really good spots and look to slow them down when we can. There are only so many things you can do as a group. We did our part yesterday, but sometimes your best players are going to have an off night. Those guys have had a lot of nights where they are on. You have to manage that as best as you can as a team.
For us, we are expecting them to be more like themselves tomorrow. We have got to be prepared to be even better. Obviously, we stayed out of the penalty box. We’d like to do that again, but the odds are we are going to get caught on a couple and take some penalties. We will have to manage that because that is a big part of offensive people getting confidence and feeling good in the game. The fact that there were no power plays yesterday helped our cause in terms of not letting their guys get into the game.
The lack of power plays yesterday — was it down to good positioning and discipline? What did you chalk that up to?
Keefe: There was probably a little bit of luck attached to it. I thought we did skate and we worked. We have been caught in the past — as we all know — with our stick getting caught in feet on tripping penalties and hooks and interference. We really skated well yesterday and used our body to establish positioning rather than our sticks. The more consistently we can do that, it is going to help. Some of it is probably flat-out luck and circumstance, too.
The group was probably already pretty confident heading into the road trip. What does a win like last night’s without Auston Matthews and Frederik Andersen do for the team?
Keefe: It certainly should do a lot for us. Some of that confidence was earned even earlier in the season. This wasn’t the first time that we have played without Auston or played against the Oilers without Auston. You had that [to go on].
Obviously, we didn’t have Frederik in net, but Jack was coming back, and that gives us a boost. He has a ton of energy and has played extremely well. He has earned the confidence of his teammates for how he has played not just this season but last. Our guys felt good going in.
At the same time, we are being real here. We had a great game. That is good. We liked a lot about it. But the puck is going to drop again tomorrow night and the scoreboard is going to be back to 0-0. You’ve got to be able to do it again.
We didn’t come here just to get one win. We have to continue to refocus and get better as we get through this road trip.