Sheldon Keefe addressed the media after his team’s 5-4 win over the Buffalo Sabres that improved the Leafs’ record to 10-5-1 on the season.
On getting the W in Woll’s debut:
It is nice to get it for him. For him coming in here today, his focus is to come in and do the job for the team to get two points. For us to get it there regardless of how we got it, we are happy for him and his family. It is a big night for them.
On the new line combinations:
We made a lineup change with Simmonds out tonight. It was one minor thing there. Really, the biggest impact… You saw how we finished the game last night. We moved some things around. We just felt that we wanted to get Kase a look up top. As a result, we kind of moved some other pieces around.
I also was just trying to get more out of Nick Ritchie. I wanted to give him more of an opportunity here tonight.
Alex Kerfoot has played terrific for us and did again tonight — and no matter where we play him, which is nice to see. I thought that line with Engvall and Kerfoot was our best by a mile.
Aside from that, I didn’t like much about it… The lines just didn’t have a chance tonight. It didn’t matter what the lines were tonight. When you work and compete like we did tonight, the liens don’t have a chance. You can’t really take too much out of it.
On the way the team finished the game:
The final 20 was our best period. It was not even close. We didn’t give up a shot the first 11 minutes or so. We scored a big power-play goal to make it 4-2. It then gets away on us over a couple of shifts.
The momentum swings a little bit. Towards the end, again, we dug in and had some of our best shifts in the game — at the end with the game on the line.
There are some positive things there in the third, frankly, but the first two periods were dreadful.
On whether the underwhelming performance was a matter of the scheduling:
Everybody in the NHL is playing a lot of hockey. We can’t hang our hat on that. This Buffalo team played last night as well. We do have a day off tomorrow, and then a practice day, and then we’ll get ready for Nashville.
I am not going to chop this one up more than I already have. Two big points for us. I liked that our guys fought to the end and had some shifts at the end of the game there. We got ourselves two points without having to play extra time. That is positive for us.
We are just going to move on from this one and get ready for our next battle.
On Joseph Woll’s performance:
I love that he made a huge save early in the game. We had to count on him early on. We want to do a better job of giving him a chance to ease himself into the game. But he made a huge save early. It was maybe his best save of the night on the first shift or two there.
He didn’t get a lot of work in terms of real high-quality chances, but once they made it 4-4, they had a couple of things in and around the net, and he was there. He battled.
We got the win for him. That is the biggest thing for a guy coming in. He wants to be able to do the job for the team and give them a chance to get two points. That is what we got here tonight.