Sheldon Keefe, Toronto Maple Leafs post game
Sheldon Keefe, Toronto Maple Leafs post game

Sheldon Keefe spoke to the media after his team’s 5-1 loss to the Buffalo Sabres that dropped the Leafs’ record to 35-15-4 on the season.

On how he would assess the team’s performance:

It was terrible from start to finish.

On Morgan Rielly describing the game as “disappointing”:

I would say the same. Our team has been playing well. We had every reason to believe our team was ready to play today. Fans are back. We’re back home. We should have confidence in the way we have played of late.

Not good from the start. I liked how we defended in the first period. I thought we did a good job of that, but offensively, in terms of how we played with the puck, we were really careless.

We just didn’t have much happening offensively. We made one big play that led to a goal, but offensively, we were abysmal tonight. All four lines.

On whether this is another wake-up call similar to the Montreal game:

The team has to be passed that. This is different. In Montreal, there was no attention to detail. There were odd-man rushes, 2-on-1s, breakaways, and all of that.

That was not what was going on in the game today. There was no real urgency or competitiveness. It is different today. I look at it entirely differently. This is more of a reflection on our competitiveness as a team — individually and collectively.

Montreal was far different.

On whether it is more concerning when it is a lack of competitiveness to blame:

No, it’s not. We just didn’t have it today. It is as simple as that. That is is a reflection on coaching that the team was not more prepared. It is a reflection on the players. I didn’t think anybody had it tonight.

On Petr Mrazek’s play:

You need to get maybe a save or two in there. That is part of a goalie’s job. One is a redirection. One is basically a tap-in. We left a guy wide open at the net. They got chances and shots in the slot tonight that we did not get.

Give Buffalo credit. They really clogged things up in there. We didn’t do enough to earn space. We were content to play on the perimeter.

We just didn’t have it tonight all the way through. Goaltending, defense, all four lines didn’t have it.

On what the team should take out of this game:

We had been playing good hockey coming into tonight. We had every reason to be confident coming into today’s game and to be wanting to assert ourselves on the game.

We look at the model of what we did in Detroit when we went out right from the start of the game and really took control. That is what we were looking for tonight and what we had talked about.

With the way that we managed the puck and just kind of made it up on the fly today to start the game, we didn’t grab a hold of anything.

I didn’t think there was anything separating Buffalo from us today in terms of who is where in the standings. We just let them hang around. They were right there. They have skilled people who are good in possession of the puck. We gave them opportunities. They have guys who can score, and they did.

On whether it was disappointing how the team played after getting the game tied through 20 minutes:

It was clear that we just didn’t have it today. The Matthews line has been lights out for us for a while. They get a goal in the first, but that is a line that has been getting us going and getting us rolling. That is as bad as they’ve played in a long time.

On whether he would go back to the Rielly-Sandin pairing:

Probably not.

On what Rasmus Sandin can take away from the experience:

It is about finding some comfort in his game and not changing things. He had some bad luck here today with the puck bouncing and rolling around on him.

It shouldn’t be a surprise. He is a 21-year-old defenseman with fewer than 100 games in the league. He is playing on the top pair, playing lots, and on his off-side. There is a lot going on there.

But he has played great hockey for us all season. In today’s game, he scores a great goal for us. There are some things there where the focus would be on him on some of the mistakes around the goals, but it is a complete mess all around him. All forwards on the ice, his partner, his goaltender — there is not much happening there. Let’s not focus too much on Rasmus.