Sheldon Keefe addressed the media after his team’s 5-4 overtime loss to the Arizona Coyotes that dropped the Leafs’ record to 37-16-5 on the season.
On Erik Kallgren’s performance in difficult circumstances:
He was great. He was calm, cool, and collected. He made big saves. He looked really confident for a guy going into his first start in those circumstances with no heads up. I thought he looked excellent. He didn’t get tested a lot, and when he did, he was really good.
Obviously, there is nothing he can do at all on the winning goal, but he kept us alive on that save in overtime just before that. He gave us a chance to win the game the other way with Will’s breakaway. A great showing by him. He should be proud of himself.
On Petr Mrazek’s tough night after getting the chance to take over the crease in Jack Campbell’s absence:
It is tough. I don’t know what else to say. It is tough.
On the decision to pull Mrazek:
To be honest, I wanted to do it after two. It was a tough position to put Kallgren in. I was hoping we could find some level ground.
I obviously challenged that second goal partly because I thought maybe there has been some of these offsides that have come back when the puck is a little bit off the stick. I thought there was a chance maybe it comes back and gives us an opportunity, or I thought, if we have to kill a penalty, maybe that gives us life, gets us going, gets the guys rolling a little bit, and gets their attention.
It is a tough hole for us to start with. With the third and fourth goals, I don’t think there was a lot Petr could do on those. When you give up the first two like that, you can’t give up three and four. You have to find a way to make the saves for us in that case.
At that point, it was obvious we needed a change.
On how the players are affected on a night when goals are going in too easily on the goalie:
It is hard mentally. It is two minutes into the game on the first one. That is a tough one. That was as maybe as tough of a goal as we have given up all season to start the game. It is tough. It takes the wind out of the sails for sure. There is no doubt about it.
All of our guys are pros. They have to find ways to gather themselves and keep playing. Credit to them for the effort they put forth in the third period. They didn’t lay down, kept pushing, and had plenty of opportunities to win the hockey game in regulation and didn’t. We get a huge point.
Erik gave us a great chance to counter and get a good look to get the second point. It doesn’t go our way. They get one the other way. That is the way those overtimes go. I love the fight in our team and the performance by Erik Kallgren today. Great job by him.
We are just going to have to push by this one.
On the sheer number of goals against in the last 11 games (nine out of 11 with four or more goals against) and the precarious situation in net:
Today was a great opportunity for Petr to get going. That is disappointing. He is a pro and has been around a long time. He has played a lot of games and a lot of good goal. We have confidence in him as an organization. We need him to find himself.
How concerned am I? Obviously, my concern continues to be the team that plays in front of the goalie and how we can set the goalie, no matter who is in net, up for success. Petr, through his career, has been a better goaltender than he has been for us. We have to own part of that and help him be the goalie he has been through his career.
On whether he might give Erik Kallgren some starts going forward:
Let’s give him a chance to enjoy the night. Who knows if his family is even watching the game? Let’s give him a chance to connect with people and talk with this experience here.
In the time he was in our net, we made the team feel comfortable and confident. That is a goalie’s job. I think our fans recognized that. Our fans were terrific. I loved how they welcomed him into the game and gave him and our team a boost.
It is a great performance by him for sure. What it means going forward? Obviously, he doesn’t have a great deal of experience here, but we need to find stability there.
On the missed call on the game-winning goal:
You guys all saw that. You don’t need me to comment on it.
On whether star players get the respect they deserve from league officials:
You guys watch the games. I’ll let you make your own assessments of that. It is on us and our players to find ways through it.