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

Sheldon Keefe addressed the media after his team’s 7-3 win over the Washington Capitals that improved the Leafs’ record to 48-20-6 on the season.

On whether this was the bounce-back game he was looking for after the loss to Buffalo:

Yeah, the guys were good tonight. It was more like we had been playing. Right from the start, it was clear we were more engaged here today. We were more engaged physically. We had way more pace and way more speed to our game. Everything falls into place from there.

On Tom Wilson’s hit on Jack Campbell:

Any time a guy gets hit in the head, you don’t like it — especially when it is a goalie and the mask is flying off. I didn’t like it at all.

On the team’s response to the Wilson hit:

I thought it was great. I thought our emotions went up with it. I would’ve liked it if our power play scored us a goal in that instance. I thought, for the remainder of the game, we did a good job of… I thought there was still some physicality, but things really settled down from there. Clifford and Simmonds, in particular, did a really good job.

On the balanced scoring contributions tonight:

We got three guys with two each. I don’t know if it was that spread out. But it is three guys playing on three different lines. That is really good. We scored at four-on-four. Getting two there was huge — especially in response to them getting one. That was big.

Great for Bunts. Bunts was doing a lot of good things. Bunts had been scoring at a really good rate and a really good pace. It hasn’t gone in for him. The one the other night kind of rolls along the goal line. You can take that one of two ways — either, “this might never go in,” or, “it is right there, and just stay with it.” That is how I was looking at it. He was getting the chances.

He was in the right spot for two goals tonight and made good on them. It was great for him.

A great night for Willy. I thought he could have had three or four tonight. Miky, again, scored two great goals, especially that one in the third period.

On scoring seven even-strength goals without any goals from Matthews or Marner:

That is big. Obviously, things, for quite a while now, were going where almost everything was happening off of their sticks. Those guys’ confidence is really high. We have a number of other guys that have been waiting to break out and have been wanting to contribute and need to contribute.

The reality is that there are going to be times where those other guys, for whatever reason, the puck is not going to go in the net. You need to have other guys feeling good about their game and confident in their ability to score.

To get six from our forwards there and get Lyubushkin on the board — there are a lot of good things there offensively.

On Pierre Engvall emerging as an integral piece on the team:

I am glad you asked about him. I thought he was excellent tonight just with the way he moved his feet and his speed. I thought our speed really caused some problems for Washington tonight — Pierre, in particular, with the way he skated, was great in getting the puck through the neutral zone. He was a lot to handle tonight for them.

That is what I think he has done well. His confidence is there. He is feeling good. He is playing more. I have seen Pierre play some really good hockey. He was an essential part of our Calder Cup team in terms of how he played. That is the type of play I am used to seeing from him and what I thought he was capable of doing. He is doing it more consistently now.

On the bench’s response to Lybushkin’s goal:

The guys were pumped. The guys were excited. The fans were excited. That was a great goal for him. He has played very well for us now. I know his family is now coming into Toronto now. They had been in Arizona for a long time. They had just gotten in here. This was the second game they had been here. For him to score tonight and continue to play well, we are happy for him.

On Mikheyev’s emergence this season offensively after the reports that he wanted a trade last offseason:

A lot of it was that Miky felt he was capable of doing more. Last season, offensively, things didn’t fall for him. We have talked about it. I don’t know how many breakaways he had last season, but the puck just didn’t go in. This season, he is making good on them. He is adding different moves and deceptions to his finish. The confidence has been there for him.

Last season and this season, he has been such an important player for us because of what he does with his size, his speed, his skill set, his ability to play on both sides of the puck, and his penalty kill. Right from camp this year, we have wanted to get him more involved in the power play with hopes that more touches offensively might help other areas of his offensive game.

Whether that is the reason why it has, I don’t know. His injury was tough news for him. He has stuck with it. We were steadfast as an organization that Miky is a big part of our team and we needed him here. We were going to make him important and feel good. He had to live up to his side of it. He has done that. It has been excellent.

On whether there are concerns about the power play going quiet in recent games:

A little bit. We had a sense that today was going to be a tough day.  In the last 10 games, Washington has given up one goal on their PK. Looking at it on the video and in the preparations, we thought it was going to be a tough night for the power play.

There are some things, despite what the power play is doing, where we have gotten a little bit disconnected and casual with it as a result of some of the great offense we are getting at five-on-five. There is not as much urgency on the power-play side of it.

That is not a good thing for us. We have to dial that in for sure.

On the team winning around 60% of the faceoffs and the importance of winning draws:

Of course, we want to be as good as we can in the dot. We have some really good centers who have been good there. Adding Kampf this season has really helped us.

Manny Malhotra spends a lot of time — not just with the centers but with the plan around what happens before and after the puck drops. We think we have made great strides in that area this season.

The centers do the work, and the wingers and defensemen really help clean up a lot of pucks. Any time we can start with the puck, it is a bonus. We try to be as clean on that as we can.

On Matthew Knies deciding to return to college next season:

We, as an organization, believe that he would be ready to come in and play. We have followed very closely what he has done this season. We believed he would be ready.

He is going to be more ready a year from now. Ultimately, he makes that decision. I am sure there is a combination of his commitment to the University of Minnesota and part of it is just his own development. He is still only 19 years old.

We are really excited about the player. He is going to be even better a year from now. We will continue to work with him and monitor him.

What they are doing in Minnesota is really serving his development well. We have to respect his decision. If he doesn’t feel and his family doesn’t feel he is ready for this step, we have to respect that. That is probably the best thing for the player.