Sheldon Keefe addressed the media after his team’s 5-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks that extended the Leafs’ road winning streak to a franchise-record-tying seven games and improved their record to 16-6-1 on the season.
On the team’s performance to close out the California sweep:
I thought we regrouped after the first period. I thought Anaheim was definitely the better team in the first period. We were able to regroup and find our game in the second. In the first period, Anaheim made it real hard for us to get through the neutral zone. It is harder to sustain that in a second-period setting. That allowed us to really get our legs going.
That [second frame] was a good period for us. Obviously, we got a lead again. Jack Campbell was great all the way throughout. We gave up certainly a lot more volume than we would’ve liked, but I thought we defended pretty well, kept things to the perimeter, and we made good on opportunities.
It was just a good team effort all the way through and a great road trip for us. This is a challenging game to get through here at the end of a long trip. The guys dug in and got a win to let us go home on a nice, clean trip here. Really proud of the group.
On whether there is a difference between the team stringing together wins this season compared to its best periods of last season:
I think there are a lot of similarities. We had good stretches last season. That is why it is important that we continue to focus on one day at a time here and find that consistency.
That is what we have been talking about since day one. It has been a great November. The calendar is going to turn here. We are going to get back home after a long trip. We have a really good team waiting for us. We just have to focus on every single day. That is what we will do.
On Alex Kerfoot’s play on Nylander and Tavares’ line:
He has done an excellent job. In these last two games, in particular, he has been a real standout. He has been consistent and good throughout the season, but in these last few games, his speed, the way he is skating with and without the puck, driving play down the ice, defending, penalty killing — his game has just been really good. It has been a real nice fit with that line.
On Kyle Clifford’s first game back with the team:
I thought he was okay. I would have to watch his shifts back. He gave us energy. He was physical. I think he led our team in hits despite not playing a lot. He made a contribution that way. That is part of what he brings.
On Michael Bunting’s play since returning to the Matthews line:
He is more comfortable. While on the surface, playing with players of that calibre is somewhat easier, there are some challenges that come with it that are more difficult than playing lower in the lineup. Some of that is mental — in fact, a lot of it is probably mental.
That takes some time, especially for a player that is still really trying to establish himself in the league and trying to get comfortable in the league. That is part of why we reset him a little bit going back down with the expectation that he would move back up. He has gotten his opportunity here, and I think he has done a good job.