Sheldon Keefe spoke to the media after his team’s 5-3 win over the Washington Capitals that improved the Leafs’ record to 35-14-4 on the season.
On the team’s performance:
I liked the game. I thought we were good in a lot of areas except the power play. Otherwise, I thought our guys did a good job.
On Petr Mrazek’s play in net:
I thought he was really good. We didn’t give up a lot in terms of grade-A chances other than the shorthanded chance. They never really got in alone on us off the rush at all. That has been a major area of improvement for us as a team since Columbus.
There are still some dangerous shooters out there. On their power play, I thought he was really good. He made a couple of big saves on some one-timers — not just Ovechkin but some other guys.
I thought he was full marks for the win tonight.
On John Tavares’ two-assist performance:
He was excellent. He hasn’t been feeling 100% for sure. He has taken a little bit to get through this little bug that has been going around. His play on the Willy goal early, and then the one to get the puck to Hollsy… Unbelievable play by Justin Holl and finish by Sandy, but John was really good today.
He hit the post. Looks to me like a guy ready to break out here, so it’s really good.
On Justin Holl’s five points in two games since returning:
When you are sitting a guy, it is not a punishment by any means. It is a combination of using your depth and it’s a chance to step back. He hasn’t just kicked his feet up.
He has gotten to work before and after practice. He has worked at his game. It was a chance to reset. You want to prove yourself again. I think he has been really good.
On the penalty call that led to the 3-2 Washington goal:
You are just trying to get an understanding of what they might have seen there. They don’t get a chance to watch it back like we do. That is a luxury that we have that I know they don’t love. We have that ability to make them understand it.
We felt that the player had fallen on his own. It turns out it is a significant call in the game. They obviously scored on that power play.
Between that and the shorthanded goal that we gave up, we don’t like giving up either of them, but I thought the team remained composed and continued to play. That was really good.
Simmer got in there and mixed it up a little bit, drawing the four-on-four and opening the game up for us, which I thought at the time could be a real advantage for us. It turns out that was the case.
On the power play cooling off recently:
It is hard to say [why]. In the other games where it maybe hasn’t gone in, I thought we did some good things and got some really good looks. I think teams are really starting to adjust their penalty kill to us. It is on us to adjust and adapt.
We did make some adjustments coming into the game tonight. Our guys didn’t look comfortable with those changes. That is a combination of us coaches needing to get them comfortable, and it is also on them to get comfortable with the need to adapt and adjust.
We have made it pretty clear around the league that our power play is dangerous. Teams are taking note of that. I would be certain that teams see us coming up on the calendar and their coaches are getting to work two or three games ahead. I have been in that position myself when you see good power plays coming in. You’re getting ahead of it and working hard on it because you don’t want to look bad.
Teams have done that. It is on us to counter that now. We didn’t do a good job of executing today.
On completing the circuit with a game against Washington, the final team he hadn’t coached against before:
I don’t have to tell you guys how strange of a time it has been these last couple of years. It was nice to play this team. They have a lot of great players. It is a great city. It was a great chance to spend the day here yesterday. I am even happier to get the win and get out of here now.
On Ondrej Kase’s status after missing the game:
I’d just say he is day-to-day here. Nothing serious. Obviously, he took the full morning skate today, but he wasn’t feeling quite right to play night.