Sheldon Keefe addressed the media after his team’s 4-2 loss to the Arizona Coyotes that dropped the Leafs’ record to 2-2-0.
On the team’s performance:
I thought we started well in the game. We had full control of the game. We had the puck really the entire first period, for the most part, at five on five. We couldn’t get to the net. It was a credit to Arizona. They packed it in. They had five people on the inside blocking shots and defending the net.
We couldn’t convert our offensive-zone time into anything really tangible at the net. I thought we had a shift in there about six or seven minutes into the first period where it felt like we had the puck in the zone for a minute and a half or two minutes. I thought that shift sort of lulled us to sleep. From there, it felt like we had full confidence that we were going to have real control of the game and get lots of chances.
I thought we overhandled pucks. I thought we didn’t the puck to the net quick enough, so we allowed them to get inside with how they defended the net.
It is a much different game than any of the other three we played in that first period because we had the puck so much. It is a different type of game. You are always playing against their five players kind of standing on the inside. It is a challenge that we didn’t adapt to well enough.
Special teams were obviously an issue. As the game went on, I thought they gained confidence. Our team got frustrated, lost its way, and couldn’t break through. That is sort of my assessment.
On the called-off tying goal late in the game:
It is a tricky thing. I see a couple of things. The puck clearly changed direction on its way down. To me, the thing I don’t think they were really looking at — there is a debate of whether it hit Rielly’s stick on the way down and if it hit the toe of his stick, which helped change the puck’s trajectory. Did it hit Keller’s skate? Is that enough for possession?
I don’t know. It’s crazy that we are talking about such little things on these reviews. We just have to do a better job of not putting ourselves in that spot.
We felt that call could’ve gone our way, or at the very least, was not conclusive enough to overturn it. That one didn’t go our way here tonight.
Situation Room explanation on disallowed TOR goal in last minute: pic.twitter.com/gIdXeG1Jkk
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) October 18, 2022
On the team’s biggest area for improvement through four games:
The Montreal game was just a debacle in how we played. We had no real rhyme, reason, or purpose to our game. I thought we played two pretty good games against Washington and Ottawa.
Tonight’s game is its own animal as well. That first period that you are playing there — it is such a different game. Even in the preseason, you don’t play games like that where you have the puck that much. We didn’t adapt. We didn’t score. Special teams…
Is there an area to improve? There are a lot of areas to improve. We are only four games in. The guys haven’t found their rhythm. Our best people have not found their rhythm.
When you really look at it, the difference between us and Arizona is that we have elite players. Our elite players didn’t play like elite players today. They couldn’t make the difference. In that sense, the game is going to be close. That is the way it goes when those guys don’t make the difference that they can.
On whether there are lineup changes coming for Thursday’s game:
We will talk about it, but I would think we could find some changes to make for sure.
On Erik Kallgren’s performance:
The thing I liked the best: In the third period there, when we started to really push and they got in behind us a few times, those were some of the best chances he faced in the game. He stood his ground there.
Aside from that, the two power-play goals I didn’t think he had a lot of chance on. The other was a goal where we were soft in behind our net. That is a tough one there, too.
I thought he made saves for us in the third to give us a chance to come back in the game, but special teams and our lack of execution on offense are the difference.
On Jake Muzzin’s status after he left the game injured:
He has a neck injury. I don’t know the extent of it or how he is feeling right now.