Sheldon Keefe of the Toronto Maple Leafs
John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Sheldon Keefe addressed the media after his team’s 3-0 win over the Detroit Red Wings that improved the Leafs’ record to 53-21-7 on the season.

On putting Auston Matthews’ 60-goal achievement in perspective:

All you can say is that it is special, unique, and rare. I am just really happy for him. He works extremely hard. We know the abilities that he has, but he works extremely hard at his game. He works extremely hard off of the ice. He takes his craft very seriously.

To see him at the top of his game and reaching these milestones is outstanding. I am really happy for him. I could tell he was really happy. I just loved how our fans took care of him tonight, too. The fans were outstanding in recognition of his accomplishments. It was a good night.

On the team’s reaction to Matthews’ 60th goal:

The guys were really excited. We were a little concerned it might have been offside. Once we got a good look at it to see it definitely was not offside, the guys were really happy for sure. It was great.

The guys feel so happy for him because he is our leader, right? He does so many other things that you want to see him get rewarded. The guys also feel a part of it, as they should. Obviously, Mitch has been right there with him all season long — and not just him, but also our whole group.

We are a united group. In those moments, you are united. You feel great for one of your people. I was really happy with how the guys responded and how happy they were for him.

For Auston, he gives so much to his game and to our team. It is great for him to have that moment here.

On Matthews achieving the 60th goal milestone on a night when the team clinched home-ice advantage in round one:

That is the thing. Those are important goals. It is a 0-0 hockey game. We are carrying play. We feel fine about our game, but it is 0-0.

It is fitting that he is the guy who scores the goal that ends up being the game winner. It allowed us to really settle in and relax with our game. And he puts the game away in the end. It was really great.

On earning home-ice advantage and the benefit of it:

I am excited about it. To start playoffs with fans on our side, you can see tonight how excited they are for our team. We are going to need them. It is going to be a battle here. It is still not decided who we are playing, but no matter who it is, it is going to be an absolute battle. We are going to need that edge.

To start that way and give us an opportunity to play in front of our fans — we were in control of the situation, and we took care of it today. I am happy for our guys that way.

We have one game left to play, but obviously, we are very much focused on what is coming in six days or whatever it is.

On his excitement level about the first playoff game with fans since 2019:

I am really excited for it. There were moments in the game today where you are seeing how the fans respond to Auston. Whether it is 50 or 60, today seemed to go to a whole other level with the support that they are giving him for the MVP. With all of these things, you can tell the city is really excited for Auston and for our team.

The team success we are having goes with it. If we are losing games, they are not going to be as excited about what is going on. It is all a part of it. To have an opportunity to play in front of them and compete in front of them is big for us.

You see the support the Raptors have gotten through their runs. I haven’t lived that myself yet here. We have a number of players who have. To have that is important, especially with the fact that we were in control of it. That’s what I liked: We were in control of the situation, and we took care of it to make sure we got it done.

To get that secured when it is in our control is part of it, too. We want to be a team that when we are in control of a situation, we finish it off and get it done. I am happy we did that tonight.

On Jake Muzzin’s first game back:

It was good. I would have to watch it back for the details of it. It wasn’t a game where we had to defend a whole lot, but I thought he was really good on the penalty kill. The most important thing for me is that it looked like he got through the game without any issues. I didn’t see where his minutes finished up at, but for a first game back, I thought it was a good night for him.

On whether Jason Spezza is elevating his play at the right time of year:

I see him trending well for sure. Tonight, he made a big play to Auston. He had a big chance just before that himself and a couple of others the other night in Washington. I thought he was really good.

Obviously, he got a power-play goal that was called back, but for me, it is a goal. He shoots it in the net. I see it. He can see that he is capable of doing it. He scored a huge goal for us at 6-on-5. He scored a huge goal in the shootout. You can see those contributions that he is making.

The other thing that stood out to me with the Washington game, in particular: He had a couple of really good forechecks, too. He was really good on a night when our team was extremely tired. It was really apparent that he didn’t play the night before. You could see him having a little bit more when the rest of the group maybe didn’t.

I wanted to keep him in here today and see if he could continue to build on that momentum. I was happy with his game and the plays that he made.

On Jack Campbell finding his groove at the right time of year:

It is huge. There are a couple of things on your mind when you come into the game. Obviously, Jack’s play and continuing to be in that groove was a big one. He was perfect. That is really what you are looking for.

More important than just the shutout was how he looked. He looked super calm and relaxed. There were a couple of times that we had some breakdowns — not a lot of them, but when we did, he was solid. He had that save in the third period at a time when it looked like we had the game put away but we gave up a pretty high-quality chance.

That was one thing that really stood out to me. I was really happy for him. The Auston thing coming together is big for us as well, but the Jack thing is big.

Going into the game, for me, Auston was already at 60. I am a round-up kind of guy. I don’t know if anyone would ever describe him as a 58-goal scorer. You are already a 60-goal scorer. For those things to come together was great.

On how Auston Matthews shapes his approach to coaching:

Coaching a guy like Auston is pretty special and unique in the way that he scores goals and in the manner that he does. I know goal-scoring is on an uptick this season, but the thing that he does is the hardest thing to do in our game: score goals at even strength. It is the hardest thing to do in the game. It seems like nobody is able to do at anywhere near the same level.

That is special. It is the hardest thing to do in our game. It is not just this season. It is past seasons that he does that. The way he scores in so many different ways, how he uses his body, his personality, the professionalism that he has, the demeanor he maintains throughout all of it… He is special.

I don’t know if there is anyone quite like it. I don’t know if the Leafs have seen anyone quite like it, either.