Sheldon Keefe addressed the media after his team’s 3-0 win over the New York Islanders that improved the Leafs’ record to 13-6-1 on the season.
On the team’s overall performance:
I just thought it was a very sound effort from our guys all the way through. I thought we played hard. It is not an easy building to play in. At the beginning, the fans were engaged. We knew the Islanders were going to play hard and be competitive. I thought our guys matched that and played through it. We just played a really sound game and got great goaltending.
On the penalty kill coming through with a shorthanded goal and three kills:
When your penalty kill is feeling it and is confident, they tend to hold onto the puck a little bit longer. Sometimes you can catch teams like that. I thought there were a couple of times just before the goal where our guys were patient with it and looking for an opportunity to make a play. It was a huge goal for us. More importantly, it was a huge kill at an important time in the game.
On mixing up the LW spots and the performance of the Ritchie-Kampf-Kase line:
I thought they were good. I thought they had some good shifts for us. I liked all four lines tonight. If you look at that goal, it is a great forecheck by Nick. He got a good stick on it. It was a great play and a good finish. It was a huge goal for us with all three of those guys contributing.
It is a different mix there with Ritchie in that spot. We have come to really like and appreciate what Engvall offers the line, but we thought here tonight, with the matchups and such that were going to be presented by the Islanders, it would be a good opportunity to give those guys a go together.
Ritchie and Kase have a good history playing together in Anaheim. It has been productive. It has been something we were thinking of doing for quite some time. We thought today was the right night.
On Joseph Woll’s shutout:
He has been great. In the first game that he played, we didn’t do a good job in front of him. We made his life harder than it needed to be in his first NHL start. He battled and found a way to help us get a win.
Tonight, after another week of practice and preparation for this start, he was that much more confident and comfortable. It is not easy to do coming into this building. It is going to be a much different experience than what we had in Buffalo. He was excellent.
Our guys did a really good job in front of him, which I am proud of our team for. That is the way it should go. Our team should take care of Joe and give him every opportunity to succeed tonight. He made a few saves early in the game where he looked confident and comfortable in the net. I think that gave our team confidence as well.
On preparing for a shorthanded Islanders team:
They lost Nelson here tonight, but they started the game with all four centers. When I looked at it, they essentially had nine or 10 full-time NHL forwards and their goaltender.
We thought there would be some vulnerabilities on defense that we could take advantage of. But we have a lot of respect for this team, their coaching staff, and the culture that they have here. We knew that we were going to be in for a tough game no matter who was playing.
We had to be really good, and I thought that we were. As a result, I thought we had a nice, clean game. We didn’t really give them a whole lot of life. If you give them life and energy in this building, it can be hard to reel it back in. I thought we did a good job of it.
On giving Wayne Simmonds a power-play shift:
It was more reward for Simmer. I think he has done a really good job for us of late. I haven’t gotten him the minutes… At the end of the game, when you look at it, I think he’s deserved a bit more. Just with the way the game flowed, he hasn’t gotten in. That was a situation where we got back-to-back power plays pretty much. He was going to end up sitting for quite a while. I thought it was as good of a team as any to get him involved.
We have kept him involved in our power-play meetings. We have talked to him about the fact that we know what he can do there, but we are giving Ritchie, Bunting, Engvall, and Spezza a good, long look, and he needed to stay ready. I thought today was an appropriate time to give him that extra shift. I think he has done a really good job for us.