Sheldon Keefe addressed the media after his team’s 5-3 win over the Winnipeg Jets that improved the Leafs’ record to 29-13-5 on the season and increased their lead to six points clear at the top of the North Division.
On Nick Foligno’s fit next to Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner:
I liked it a lot, especially as the game wore on. We were in control of the game on the scoreboard and protected the lead. He is just a very smart player. He does a lot of little things really well that help you win games.
On whether it was a dominant four-line performance:
I am not sure I would use the word dominant here tonight. I thought we had a good game from all four lines if we are really talking about it. It was not our best game. We didn’t spend nearly enough time in the offensive zone, but I thought we got good efforts and good plays by all of our lines.
I thought Auston and Mitch and Nick — that line obviously produced for us today. John and Will have been playing extremely well. Galchenyuk worked really hard here tonight. We know that is important. We need to have all lines firing.
Having Nick in the lineup today gives us a boost and gives us more depth. At the same time, that is the goal at the deadline — to add another player to our group — and now you are playing without Mikheyev and Hyman here tonight. We needed other guys to step up.
I thought we got good efforts throughout the lineup. Adam Brooks had another real strong game tonight. Those types of things are really positive and help you win games.
On Rasmus Sandin’s play since stepping back into the lineup and Jack Campbell’s bounce-back performance:
Sandin, again, looked really confident here tonight again. He doesn’t look like a guy that has missed a great deal of time and is still adjusting to the NHL. Another real good effort from him.
Campbell — we gave him a couple of tough pucks to deal with early in the first period right around his crease off of turnovers, but I thought he got better as the game wore on, which is a really good sign.
There is a lot on the line here trying to get a win. The game is really tight right to the end. I thought his best play was at the end, whether it was the penalty kill in the third period or the 6-on-5. He just looked really strong and confident. That, of course, is big for him and even bigger for us.
On generally coming up with good efforts and wins against the teams closest by in the standings this season:
We needed to get a win here today. No matter who we were playing, we needed to get back on the right side of it.
It is another game here tonight that we were in control. We had a two-goal lead. I hated the fact that we made it a one-goal lead going into the third. We had to turn the lightbulbs on there for the third period and make sure we took care of this one. I thought we had a good period. We had more than enough opportunities to extend our lead. We didn’t execute to finish our chances, but we did a lot of good things to control play for good portions of the third and most importantly, not give up a whole lot around our net.
In terms of the standings and everything like that, we didn’t talk about that a great deal. No matter who we were playing today, we knew we needed to get a good effort. I think we did that here today. There are a lot of things we could do better and we are certainly going to have to do that on Saturday.
On Joe Thornton and Wayne Simmonds getting themselves on the scoresheet:
You need to have those contributions every now and again. Those guys have been playing some good hockey. That was Wayne Simmonds’ best game in a long time here today.
I think Joe has played really good hockey for us for a while now. He is another guy whose offensive contribution hasn’t been there, but Joe knows how to play and how to manage games when the game is on the line. He is making a lot of really smart plays with the puck and taking care of it. It is allowing us to utilize our fourth line in important times in the game. He is really pushing and challenging the rest of our bench to be really good in those areas and in those moments.
To see them get some offensive contribution today is good and it is a reward for them. Again, I thought with the four lines today, I felt comfortable playing those guys despite the fact that we were playing against one of the deepest forward groups in our division here.