Sheldon Keefe of the Toronto Maple Leafs
John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Sheldon Keefe addressed the media after his team’s 3-1 win over the Ottawa Senators to improve the Leafs’ record to 2-1-0 on the season.


On the team scoring first for the first time this season:

I got a lot of questions the other day about our start. I actually didn’t have any problem with our start in Ottawa, depending on how you define our start. If you are talking about the full 20 minutes of the start, we were down 3-0, but in Ottawa, they scored at about the eight-and-a-half minute mark. That was the first scoring chance we had given up. The shots, at that point, were 4-3 or 4-2 — something like that. I had no issue with our start in Ottawa, but certainly, it is nice to score first.

On Michael Bunting’s performances through three games:

Whether he is scoring or not, he is competing at a very high level. He is engaged in the game, and he is engaged in every shift. He wants to score. Of course, everybody wants to score, but it is very obvious — it is apparent — that he is putting himself out there. He is not afraid to go to the areas where a goal is more likely to happen. He is in the fight every day. That is what I like about him.

On the decision to challenge Ottawa’s 2-2 goal that got reversed:

The process is that our guys, led by Jordan Bean and Sam Kim on the video side of things, are on top of it every time the puck crosses the blue line. Whether it is a goal or not, they are on top of it. We usually know pretty much instantly whether they feel it is offside. We had a pretty strong sense of that one right away.

They told us to give them a second. I have a screen on the bench as well. They put the picture up there for me. It was pretty clear that we had a good case there. It was a pretty easy decision in that sense. I was pretty confident it was going to come back.

On the performance of the fourth line of Spezza – Amadio – Simmonds:

A lot better. Scoring a goal does a lot for everybody’s confidence. For the line, it gets them going. The coach gets more confident and wants to get them out there because they have earned it and gotten our group going. I thought those guys were good.

I thought they were better in Ottawa as well. I thought those guys gave us some good shifts down in Ottawa. It was nice to see them build on that today and get rewarded.

On Timothy Liljegren’s season debut:

I thought he was really good. He gave us some good minutes. He played with Muzz and killed penalties. He had some tough assignments for his first game today. I thought he did a really good job.

A couple of times, they got in behind him, but he also got his stick on some things and broke up some plays at the same time. He played some important minutes for us today. It was a real nice first game for him.

On Petr Mrazek’s status and if Hutchinson will be backing up during his absence:

We are expecting it to be 14 days… Hutch will be at practice for us [on Sunday].

On breaking up the Ritchie – Tavares – Marner line at different times in the past few games:

Breaking them up really has nothing to do with that line necessarily. It is more just me trying to get Will with those guys. That is really it.

The line has had a ton of chances. Tavares and Marner, in particular, have had a ton of chances. Ritchie hasn’t had a bunch here yet, but I think they will come. I thought today was his most physical game. I thought he did some good things and made some good plays with the puck in the neutral zone.

I thought that line did some good things. It deserved to be rewarded. It had some really good shifts and some great scoring opportunities. They didn’t get rewarded, but fortunately, we didn’t need it tonight, which leads me to believe they are more likely to score next time out.

On moving Nylander up with Tavares and Marner:

I just think putting our three best guys together has great potential to produce positive results for us. At different points in the game — coming out of a TV timeout, after an icing, or what have you — I like to go to that. I do similar things when Matthews is available.

You do it more frequently when you are trailing in a game, but there were a few good opportunities for us to get them together and give our group a boost. I also, of course, like them on different lines because it gives us greater balance, too.

On whether there were any nervous moments about Campbell’s health knowing the backup goalie situation:

There was no reason to think that way. Jack got through the game and was good and comfortable. It is an unfortunate situation. It is the reality of the flat-cap system here and the fact that, for the first time in the flat cap, we don’t have the exemptions that were in place with Covid last year. You are going to see a lot of this throughout the league.

In fact, from what I am told, Colorado is playing one man short tonight as well. You are going to see this a lot around the league, I think, because of the reality. It happened to be us here tonight. We got through it.

Like I said before, you go into the game thinking positively so that you are not too concerned about the backup goaltender. You are just preparing the team. Lucky for us, we didn’t need it. We got through the game very well.

On the importance of Alex Kerfoot bouncing back with a two-point game:

I had spoken with him this morning. Kerf is a good player. He has played a lot of good hockey for us over my time here. I can tell he just wasn’t playing the way he is capable of, but I spoke with him about having the mindset that today was game one. Let’s go into it with a clean slate, go out, and play like you are capable of.

It was really great to see him score a goal. I think that will go a long way for his confidence and for him to get rolling. I thought today was certainly his strongest game, and not just because of the goal.