Sheldon Keefe addressed the media after his team’s 4-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets that improved the Leafs’ record to 4-2-0.
On the team’s performance:
I really liked that we scored a big goal in the second period to go up 2-1. It got a little hairy there for a bit. I loved how we responded and dealt with that. We came out of one of those incidents with a power play, and when you get a power play in that moment with the temperature of the game rising, you want your best people to make good on it. They did a great job to give us a two-goal lead going into the third period.
It was the first time we have been in that situation going into the third period. It wasn’t perfect, but with the combination of our guys playing hard and defending our net well and Samsonov being really strong for us, it was a good win for us to start this trip.
On Morgan Rielly’s response to the Nick Robertson hit:
Our sport calls for different things at different times. Sometimes you need players to step out of character a little bit. Rielly’s moment was that he had to step up for a teammate and address that. David Kampf, Simmonds, and Clifford scored the game-winning goal. That is just the way the sport is: You need different people to step up at different times.
That was a really positive thing to come out of the game today: Everybody contributed in different ways, and in some cases, not in the way you would expect.
On Wayne Simmonds and Kyle Clifford’s first game of the season:
They had fresh legs and lots of energy. They were really motivated coming in here. That is part of the reason why you change the group up a little bit. You are coming out on the road and trying to continue to build our team and get some traction on the season.
Those are two important people for us in our organization. For me, I sort of had my fingers crossed that both were going to get through waivers — selfishly, for me, they give us additional depth and the ability to change the look of our lineup at any time that you choose now that we have the cap space.
Those guys are still important to us. It was good to see them come in today and contribute.
On Simmonds’ between-the-legs pass for the game-winning goal:
Wayne is a guy who has made a lot of plays in this league. Every now and again, he pulls it out. It was good to see. And David Kampf continues to do his thing.
On John Tavares’ strong start:
This offseason was really good for him. He was healthy all the way through it. He could really push, challenge, and look to add to and improve his game. Of course, he had a setback in camp that stalled him. He didn’t get the same momentum going into the season that others might have had. It doesn’t seem to have affected him. If anything, maybe that time off has given him a little more juice.
He looks really good. Two very important goals for us tonight. More important than that, I think he has been really good in each game. At five-on-five, he has been really good. His line — whether it was Malgin or Robertson there now — has been consistently good for us.
On the team winning four of six even without hitting its top gear offensively:
We can be better for sure. We can be better in our structure. I think there were a lot of good moments. Anything that we gave up tonight, for the most part, came at the tail end of our offense where the puck changed hands and off they went the other way. In terms of our structure, or when we were in our structure, we didn’t give up a whole lot.
The goal that we gave up — I didn’t like how we dealt with that situation. But there were good things there. The power play gets two really important goals for us tonight, but the power play can still be better. All of our guys aren’t really clicking yet offensively — for Auston and Mitch and Bunts, it was maybe their best game tonight. Auston had 13 shot attempts or something crazy tonight. You can tell he is right there and ready to break out.
All of those things are really good signs for our team. We are still picking up points. On a night like tonight, it is special teams and goaltending. We get out of the third period clean and we now head out to Vegas.
On his concern for Mitch Marner when he was hit from behind into the boards:
I didn’t see it initially. He came to the bench, and his face was a mess. I didn’t quite know what happened. I asked them to find it for me so I could figure out what happened there. I was not concerned because he seemed like he was okay, but he is not looking quite like himself right now. But he will heal.
On Auston Matthews appearing to be nursing some pain in his back:
I think there were a couple of times when he looked like he was getting some attention to that, but when he comes back to the bench, he doesn’t say anything about it. He is just playing hockey. I don’t think it is anything to be too concerned about, but any time it’s a guy like that who is as important as he is and plays as much as he does, you are going to continue to be mindful of what is happening on the off days and such.