Sheldon Keefe addressed the media after his team’s 6-5 win over the St. Louis Blues that improved the Leafs’ record to 24-9-3 on the season.
On the emotions of a wild 11-goal game:
A little bit crazy. It’s interesting the way it works out. A game like this kind of sums up the way the road trip went for us. Obviously, we’re thrilled with the way it worked out.
Each time, when we needed to push back and respond, we did — whether it was after the first goal of the game, or giving up the lead and getting it back, or in the third period, having to get a key goal on the power play, and then grinding it out to the end. This is an important win for us going home.
On Timothy Liljegren scoring his first NHL goal:
It is huge, and we are happy with him… I have been with him so long that I had to be reminded that it was his first goal, actually. It feels like he has been here a while. I have certainly seen him score, but I guess it was just at the AHL level.
I wasn’t even really aware it was his first one, but it certainly was a great one. I am thrilled for him. I thought he played a great game today — moved the puck really well, helped us on the breakout, got us out of trouble sometimes. At times, he got himself in trouble but then bailed himself out.
It was great for him. It is huge to see him get rewarded.
On Mitch Marner’s goal:
I thought he was great tonight for a guy who hasn’t played in a while. He had just the one team practice. He had good legs. Whether it was that goal or the big-time pass on Matthews’ power-play goal to tie the game, it is what Mitch does. He is a game breaker like that. It was certainly nice to have him back in the mix tonight.
On Ilya Mikheyev’s goal-a-game pace:
Miky is just a guy that works. He works really hard. He wins the puck. He has a good skill set to bring the puck up the ice. He puts himself and his linemates in good spots to score. I don’t think there is a whole lot different going on this season than any of the previous two seasons. He has just gotten some better luck. Tonight is a good sign or a good example of it. He puts a puck at the net and it finds a way in.
Those are the types of goals that go in when you have a season full of basically no luck. It is starting to fall for him consistently. That is huge for him. Obviously, it is great for his confidence. The more scoring depth that we can have, the better for us.
Certainly, we felt he had a terrific training camp. He was sort of wiping the slate clean in terms of some of the lack of offensive production. He thought he was capable of more. He was off to a great start. He had tough luck with the injury.
Since coming back, he has fit in well and hit the ground running. He has done what he has done for us since he has been here, but the puck is falling in. That is huge. We are obviously hoping it continues for him.
On whether the bench knew the Mikheyev goal went in right away:
We did not recognize right away. It took a while for sure. It was a good, long pause, but we found it. I didn’t see the puck at all, but I caught the official pointing at it and then saw the goaltender’s body language.
It was one of those nights. It is funny how that is the one that is the difference-maker. We will certainly take it. We will get on home tonight and get some regroup, a little bit of practice, and head back out to New York.
On Morgan Rielly’s 28+ minute game at the end of a long road trip:
I just thought he had good legs. He was around the puck a lot. He helped us offensively. He helped us defensively. He helped us get a little extra work — six seconds of work — on the penalty kill at the end of the game [laughs]. He played a good game.
We used him too much here tonight. We had some guys that were fighting it a little bit in that second period. If you are Dean [Chynoweth], you are just going to keep going with the guys that you think can get it done and get you through that period of the game.
As we know, Morgan is a horse for us on the backend. Whatever we ask for him, he is going to give us his absolute all. End of a road trip, day off tomorrow, and we don’t play again for a little bit — you are going to go with guys like that.
On whether he is worried about leads the team has surrendered on the road trip:
No. It is not indicative of who we have been all season long. Each game has had its different circumstances. I also think we are just getting back into it here.
Each game has been a different animal. Today’s game — I don’t know when the last time, if ever, that Jack Campbell has given up five on 22 shots. I don’t think it was indicative of how we were playing as a group. I thought we were actually playing quite well tonight even all the way through the third period.
We had been talking about our third periods, but I thought we had a really good third period and controlled the play. We didn’t give up very much at all. It just so happens, when you control play like that, a bounce goes your way.
I think each game and each lead that we gave up had different circumstances around it. I look more at the greater sample of who we were before the break. We will get ourselves back to that.
On Kyle Clifford’s status after blocking a shot:
I think he is fine. He took a puck on the knee there. It was a huge block and a great effort by him in that moment. He was banged up from that a little bit.
On his next shift — I personally didn’t see it — he might’ve taken a hit. I think it was the spotter that pulled him from the bench at that time to get assessed. In talking to him after the game and the fact that he came back on the bench and was available to us, I think he is fine.