Sheldon Keefe spoke to the media after his team’s 4-3 shootout win over the Anaheim Ducks that improved the Leafs’ record to 26-10-3 on the season.
On his evaluation of the team’s performance after giving up the 3-1 lead:
I had no issues with our game today. There are things in every game that you want to do better, but I, for the most part, liked a lot about our game today. I thought we were controlling the play for most of the game. The only thing we didn’t do was score at five-on-five.
We had a lot of chances. Their goaltender was good. We didn’t finish on those opportunities. That is something that we want to do better, of course.
Our penalty killing was good when we needed it to be. Our power play was outstanding. Lots of good things to take away from the game today. I have really no issues with how we played.
On the team’s new line combinations:
I really liked the flexibility for sure and the ability to move things around. That worked out the way I thought it would and the way I planned it in terms of getting Willy extra shifts up with John and Mitch. There was one or two where we got Auston an extra shift with Kerfoot and Willy. That worked out the way I thought it would. I liked that.
In terms of the chemistry of the group and the flow, it is going to take some time. We can’t assess that off of just one game. It was a funny game today, too. There wasn’t a lot of flow to the game. There were a lot of whistles, or at least it seemed that way.
I don’t know if it was the no fans or whatever that played into it, but it just felt like a slow game with lots of stoppages. It became a little bit more challenging to use the bench.
We were also trying to get our fourth line going at the same time. We had three lines that we moved around, and then with the fourth group, we are trying to get some traction there and to get that group going with some chemistry there. We think Engvall’s presence helps it.
It was a little more challenging tonight to do that tonight with how many stoppages in play there were.
On the Ducks’ 3-2 goal at the end of the Leafs‘ power play:
I’ll own that one. We called a timeout there. Our power play was feeling it tonight so much that I just thought I’d call a timeout, give those guys a breather, and let them go back out for the last minute or so. They were great. They had a couple of good looks and hit the post.
They overdid it at the end. If you get a line change at the end there, that is something the second unit is accustomed to doing — getting off the ice before something like that happens. I failed to point that out to our guys to be mindful of that. That is on me.
That group, in particular, is not used to being out there at the end of the power play when it expires. I will own that one there.
Our power play, obviously, was tremendous tonight.
On Jason Spezza’s touch in the shootout:
In my time here, he has been as consistent of a shooter as we have had in the shootout. He missed earlier this year, but he is a reliable guy. He is an experienced guy. I like his ability to go first with the combination of his experience and poise.
When we come out of the overtime, Matthews and Nylander are our second and third shooters. Those guys can use an extra breather coming out of it, I find. With Spezza going first like that and setting the table for us, he did a tremendous job of finishing there.
On Timothy Liljegren’s status after leaving the game with a head injury:
He was held out mainly for precautionary reasons. They’ll just continue to monitor him. There were some positive signs as the game wore on and after the game. They were feeling a little bit better about him. They’ll assess him and make a determination on his availability for Friday’s practice.