Sheldon Keefe of the Toronto Maple Leafs
Sheldon Keefe, post game

Sheldon Keefe addressed the media after his team’s 2-1 overtime loss to the New York Rangers that dropped the Leafs’ record to 2-1-1 on the season.


On Auston Matthews’ season debut:

He played well. He was all over it. 16 shot attempts, 8 on net. If that keeps happening, they’re going to go in in bunches.

On giving Matthews 22 minutes of ice time in his first game back:

I spoke to Auston this morning. I told him my intention was to play him as I normally would. I think his feedback was that he expected no less. That was what we did. We obviously had some really long power plays that got his minutes up there really quickly, and then he probably could have done without over time.

I think it is good for him to go through that. We don’t play again until Friday. I think it was the right way to go about it — to keep putting him out there and have him push through that. I thought he was very effective throughout the game despite the fact that, naturally, it would be a challenging night for him from a conditioning perspective.

On the power play (0 for 3):

I thought it looked good. It generated chances. We want to be more dangerous. There are other layers and steps it can get to. We saw, like I expected with Auston’s presence there today, that it changed some of the dynamics, looks, options, and the way things flowed.

We had so much time as well that the guys started moving around and we got some of our best looks off of that. I thought there were some positives there. We need it to go in the net. It could have made a huge difference for us today — not just, obviously, to win the game but just as a chance to build positive momentum for us.

It did that in terms of spending time in the zone, but the power play needs to produce. That is really what it comes down to. It is a good first step for us today for the guys in their first game action together in that alignment.

On the opposing goaltenders standing on their head in both the team’s losses so far:

Getting frustrated is a waste of time. It is a useless emotion for us, especially in this early going. We have to be encouraged by the fact that we are generating as many looks as we are. Today was probably the most that we have generated in the games thus far. It didn’t go in for us. We were all over it. The goalie was good.

I still think there are some things we can do differently and better to make it harder on the goaltender, but we generated more than enough offense to win the game today, and we didn’t because we didn’t get it over the line. That is the name of the game.

On Nick Ritchie’s fit next to Matthews and Marner:

I would have to watch it back closely to pick up little things like that, but Auston was all around it today. He generated a ton. It is a sign to me that the line was working well.

For a guy like Ritchie, you are playing on that line and you know you are going to have Auston and Mitch playing off of each other. He is trying to find his place on a line and how that all works. That is going to take some time.

Also,  one of the dangers I spoke to tonight: With Auston being back, the natural part of that is that guys are going to start looking for him, over-passing, and changing their games a little bit. We talked to the guys about just continuing to do the things that we’ve done. Auston makes us a better team. Let’s not adjust or change too much.

I still just sense that all of the guys on the ice – whether it’s Mitch or the D on the ice — were trying to find him. That kind of stuff will sort itself out over time.

On Mitch Marner’s one point in four games:

I’ve liked a lot about Mitch’s game. I know it hasn’t gone over the line. He has had really good chances, but he has generated a ton. Again, I will reference Auston having as many opportunities and looks as he did today. Mitch is the facilitator on a lot of that.

He has created a lot of scoring chances for us. He has had a number of chances himself. I have liked a lot about his game. He has been very good on the penalty kill for us as well. There are lots of positives happening with him.

I know that we haven’t scored enough goals at 5-on-5 as a team. We have a number of players throughout our lineup that we think can break out and the offense can start to come. We aren’t there yet, obviously. That was the difference tonight.

On the wild 3-on-3 OT period:

They are not always as crazy as that or last as long as they did tonight, but that was fun. It would’ve been nice to see it go in. We clearly had our own chances. They didn’t go in, and that is the nature of overtime. The other team is going to get their chance. It went in for them.

On the fan atmosphere during the OT:

Maybe it’s just because it had been so long for me, but whether it was the way they were getting behind Soup and his saves and the energy in the building through that overtime, or different parts like the Morgan Rielly shot block and things like that, you could tell the fans appreciated it. We certainly appreciate having them here and being as engaged as they are.