Sheldon Keefe addressed the media after his team’s 2-1 win over the New Jersey Devils that improved the Leafs’ record to 11-5-5.
On his thoughts when the debris started showering down on the ice in the third period:
Take cover. That’s really all you can do.
I have been through that experience a few other times — maybe not to that degree. That one felt like it could get dangerous. That’s why we decided to leave the bench for a little bit there.
On how the team handled the atmosphere:
I thought we did a good job of it. It got a little hairy in there in the third period with the atmosphere, but it was an intense atmosphere right from the start of the game. It was the most engaged I have seen fans engaged here in New Jersey in my time in the league. You can tell they are really excited about this team and the run they have been on.
I thought our guys did well. An excellent first period sets us up for success in the game. I thought we defended really hard all game long. We made one mistake in the third period that ended up in our net.
All game, I thought our guys battled hard and defended the middle of the ice extremely well. We took away the strength of their game. I thought we were full marks for the win.
On Jordie Benn’s status and how the team responded to losing another defenseman during the game:
I don’t know have much of an update other than that he has an upper-body injury. We will get him assessed here today or tomorrow and have another update for you.
In terms of how we did, I thought the guys battled hard. You’ve got Mac Hollowell playing in his first NHL game in this environment here. That is a lot, but I thought the guys did well. I thought the forwards did extremely well to support them.
When needed, Murray was great, too, to keep it out. There were some flurries around the net there.
Until that mistake we made in the third period, I thought all game we did a really good job of defending against the big chance. We just didn’t have any real clean looks at our net. With the way they can score and their ability to generate, I thought we defended it well all game.
That, in combination with getting the two goals in the first period, is why you win.
On his familiarity with Conor Timmins:
Not a lot at this point. We will spend some time getting to know him better on video. I think he is going to join us in Minnesota tomorrow. All I know is that he was a high-end prospect. I can recall him dominating the World Juniors. He has had real battles with injuries in his pro career to date.
Obviously, we have a lot of opportunities here right now and a lot of need. For a player like him that has a lot of potential, a lot of ability, and is looking to find his way, I think it is perfect for us.
On the level of satisfaction taken from ending the Devils’ streak:
We needed to get a win today no matter who we were playing. That is a tremendous hockey team over there. They deserve everything they have gotten to date.
We needed to get a win. This is a character win for our team given what we are going through here. To do it on the road against this team, with how they have been playing and the type of push they had, is a really good day for the Leafs.
On the controversial calls:
Any time there is a challenge situation, you are not certain how it is going to go. We felt pretty strongly about the first one. Had they called it a goal, we would’ve challenged it. We felt pretty confident about that one.
The second one is kind of a rare situation. Murray is outside the net there in open water and got his feet taken out. I think they got the right call on that one. And they kicked one in.
Those are pretty straightforward that way. It is obviously rare in the way there were three of them like that. Obviously, I am on this side of it, so I am going to say it, but it is really clear, if you take your bias out of it, that the calls were made appropriately.
I thought our team, despite the rollercoaster of emotions throughout the game, managed it well.