Sheldon Keefe addressed the media after his team’s 5-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks that improved the Leafs’ record to 33-13-5 on the season.
On the team’s five-game streak of allowing one goal per game:
Especially as we shifted from our games in Vancouver and went onto Winnipeg, I think our team really just recognized that it was time to really dial in the details of our game both offensively and defensively. I think there has been a real shift there for us. Any time that we have had breakdowns since that Vancouver trip, our goaltending has been excellent in each of the games as well. All of those things combined really help us.
Today, we were not very good at all through two periods, but once again, in the third period, our team regrouped and decided we were going to take care of the game and it was going to remain in our control. The guys were really good again and it was fun to watch them in that third.
On Auston Matthews’ goal-scoring pace and whether it unfortunate we won’t see his numbers over a full season:
I am just enjoying watching it now with what he is doing, no matter how many games we are playing. He is feeling it. The chemistry between him and Mitch is obvious. He went through a tough stretch where he battled through injuries and stuff like that. He is obviously feeling better and you’re seeing the results.
On the team’s ability to flip a switch and turn the tide of a game:
I just think it is all relative to how we decide to play with the puck. At times, we get ourselves into trouble — and it has happened a lot to us against Vancouver here throughout the season — where we have the puck a lot, and when you have the puck a lot in a game — maybe more than you would against other games against other teams — you tend to overcook it, overdo it, and you feel like you have more plays available than you do.
That causes you problems. All of a sudden, you are playing in transition a lot and chasing it. When we just make smart, efficient plays, take what is there, make plays when they are available — and otherwise just put the puck in good places, take care of each other that way, and manage the game — especially with the lead, we are a hard team to play against.
That managing of the puck is a big piece of it. Today, through two periods — where we were managing the puck very poorly — we still defended well. We didn’t give up a great deal in terms of quality looks at our net — oddman rushes and stuff like that. We have been really good in that area since we left Vancouver and through most of the season. That is a big part of why we are where we are in the standings.
That puck management and the ability to roll over our four lines and six defensemen is a big peice of it, too. That was a struggle for us through the first two periods. We didn’t have all of our lines gonig, but we certainly did in the third.
On Justin Holl’s status after taking a puck to the face:
He was bloody. Aside from that, he was in the room with the guys after the game chumming around a little bit. That is positive. In terms of his actual status and everything of that nature, I don’t have that. Just the fact that he was in the room with the guys joking around a little bit seems positive.
On Thornton and Spezza’s five-game point streaks at their respective ages:
They’re just giving us real good shifts. Whether they get rewarded offensively or not, we need those guys to give us good shifts and manage the puck well.
I thought, like a lot of our team through two periods, they were not very good. In fact, I went into the third unsure of how much I was going to play them. But we gave our whole team a chance to be better in the third, and that line was outstanding.
It was a huge goal they scored for us. They did it through a really good, smart shift taking care of the puck and doing what you really hope to get from the fourth line.
The combination of the experience and skill set of Jumbo and Spezz, and then Brooks’ energy and his intelligence, has really helped that line. That was a real big moment in the game. It was good to see that.