Sheldon Keefe addressed the media after his team’s 4-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks that improved the Leafs’ record to 32-13-5 on the season.
On the performance of Timothy Liljegren and Ben Hutton in their season and Leafs debuts, respectively:
Both guys did really well. They gave us good minutes. Both guys looked comfortable on both sides of the puck — moved the puck really well, defended really well. I thought it was really good.
The extra minutes and responsibility that were spread out all the way through the defense — a lot of it fell on Sandin, and I thought he was excellent again. TJ Brodie, pairing with Rasmus, was exceptional tonight. I thought that really helped not only Rasmus but our entire defense.
On the decision to give Rasmus Sandin extra responsibility tonight:
A) We think he has earned it. B) It is part of the growth process for him. We want to give a little bit more and see how they handle it — give him that exposure. We had the maintenance days for Muzzin and Mo. It creates more opportunity for everybody.
With Rasmus, it was just natural for us to give him that increased responsibility. We just put him out there and got him going. He did a good job today.
It is a really positive development for not just Rasmus but our entire defense. To get Hutton in and have him get comfortable with his teammates, play a game, and do well, as well as for Liljgren to step in and our team not miss a beat defensively, is a really good and healthy sign for the depth of our team.
On Wayne Simmonds settling the score with the fight vs. Alex Edler and the message sent:
It is part of what Wayne brings to a team. I do think little things like that are in the fabric of our game and are a part of what makes a team a team and brings a team together. Credit to Simmer for stepping up in those situations. I think his teammates appreciate and recognize it. It a good tone for the game.
It was nothing we talked about beforehand or anything like that, so it caught me a little off guard, but I think anyone who has been around the game knew what was happening there. Credit to Wayne for stepping up, and at the same time, for Edler to participate in that.
On Auston Matthews’ comment that his chemistry with Mitch Marner has taken a step forward this season:
Auston finds space to get available and is ready to shoot. Mitch knows to buy some time and find him and then deliver the puck at the right time and in the right place.
The 2-on-1 was a pretty good example of it on Auston’s goal tonight. It didn’t really seem like there was going to be a whole lot there developing. Mitch makes the play anyway, and Auston is ready for it and makes no mistake. Just with little things like that, I think they are definitely on the same page and are enjoying being together.
On David Rittich’s performance amid a light workload (16 shots against):
I thought he did a good job. It is a tough night when you are not getting a whole lot of work. You have to stay with it. He kept them at one and got the win. He did his job tonight. It is good to see for him.