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

Sheldon Keefe addressed the media after his team’s 5-4 overtime win over the Calgary Flames that improved the Leafs’ record to 18-5-6.

On the team’s performance:

We are thrilled that we get the win and get two points. I thought we still did a lot of good things in the game that helped ensure we got two points. I thought we did a lot of things that were not good in the game which made it a lot harder on us than it needed to be.

It has been quite some time since that’s been the case, but I thought today was not indicative of the type of game we have been playing. As a result, the game was chaotic.

On the team winning despite not being at its best:

I think the fact that we have won in different ways is a real good thing. We can be comfortable in different situations. The game doesn’t completely run away from us. They didn’t get two or three in a row or anything like that where the game is just completely out of reach. You are right there. You are a shot away. We can kind of recover from some of our mistakes today.

We have been talking a lot about a certain process, the way to play, how to take care of the puck, and those kinds of things that have really set us up for success. We weren’t that tonight. We are not going to get too excited about this one except for the fact that points are important.

It is very encouraging that we still found a way to get the two points. There is a day off tomorrow, a practice day, and then we come back in here again and look to get back to playing the way we were. I didn’t like our game entirely.

On the decision to start Kampf-Sandin-Liljegren in OT:

I figured Sandy would be the most likely to take a stick in the face [laughs].

It is no secret that things haven’t gone well for us in overtime. We have tried a little bit of everything in terms of mixing and matching our top four guys. It hasn’t gone well.

The reality is that we have lost to some teams that have taken on a more conservative approach from the start. Given what we have been through, I think we needed to shock the system a little bit and try something entirely different.

On Rasmus Sandin’s recent strong play:

He has played more and is in more of a groove. With the injuries, you have fewer options, so you just put him out there. He’s growing on the fly. He is figuring things out, and he’s being relied upon. I think he has done a nice job.

Everybody likes playing on the power play and thinks it’s just great and easy and all of that… It is not easy. It is a challenge, especially against a team like this that puts a lot of pressure on you. They look to score on the penalty kill. It is a stressful situation to make those decisions, make those plays, and execute at a high level at key times.

Those experiences are helping him grow. There is no doubt that he has found a different level in his game from where he was earlier in the season not unlike a lot of our team that has really turned the corner in the last month.

On William Nylander’s increased production this season:

I think he has been consistent with his play on offense and how he pushes and the chances he generates. Over the years, we have had this conversation a number of times. Last season, he set a new standard for himself.

As I have said in the past, he has a long way to go still in terms of what his potential is and what he can do. You are seeing that.

He is producing at a higher clip. He has been very consistent to start the season here. To me, when we look at it, I think Willy can — and should — be in that top elite tier of players in the league. He is working his way there.

In terms of his play with the puck, that is it. Like all of our players, there is a whole other side of it with the stuff without the puck defensively. That is a whole other area to discuss and talk about.

In terms of the offense, consistently making plays, and helping our team win games, he has been very good there.

On whether Nylander needs fewer pushes from the coach than in the past:

Yeah, I think so. I think it is a combination of things. He is maturing. Over time, you get sick of having the coach in your ear all the time. You want to get that sorted out yourself before the coach has to come and get there.

I also think our players, internally amongst themselves, are pushing each other. Those top guys are pushing each other. Willy, I think, has that potential to be in that top tier. Auston and Mitch have really established themselves in that very exclusive top tier in the league. Willy should be right there hanging with those guys.

He is pushing himself, and they are all pushing one another, which I think is how that group gets to even greater heights.

On Conor Timmins’ assimilation into the team:

I think he has done a nice job. I have liked a lot about his game. The game was really tight today. You start to shorten the bench. A guy like him who hasn’t played a ton is going to get caught up in that.

I think he has done some good things for us despite being a guy who hasn’t played a lot, hasn’t been around our group a lot, and hasn’t had a lot of practice time to really get comfortable. He is playing with a new partner in Brodie, new teammates, and all of these things.

There is lots going on for him as a guy who is still trying to make his mark in the league. But we have been really encouraged by what we have seen.

On Joey Anderson’s first game of the season:

Especially in the back half of the game, I thought he really started to do some good things. I was really encouraged. I thought he made good plays on the breakout on the wall, advanced the play with the puck, got in on the forecheck, and won some pucks back. He generates a huge power play for us in the third period.

Very encouraging game for him. He is going to get an opportunity to keep going with us here. With our situation with injuries and how he has played, it is time for us to give him a little runway here to see what he can do.

On the crowd’s reaction to Mitch Marner’s point streak extending the franchise record:

Loved it. I love how dialed in our fans are. Of course, they are dialed in on that, but just in general… If you look at the other night, there was their reaction to the situation late in the third period with the Engvall situation and the LA player.

Tonight, I looked up. I didn’t know what happened. I quickly learned that they were really attuned to what is happening. It is terrific because it is so well deserved for Mitch. This guy has really been driving the bus for us. For him to get that reaction and know that people are behind him is terrific.

On the 4-3 goal by Calgary that was ruled a good goal after a review:

The rule is pretty simple. As soon as I saw it back, I said, “That’s a goal.” With the way the rule is, even if the whistle goes, if there is a continuation of the play and the puck lands in the net, it is a goal.

If that puck stopped on the goal line and they came and poked it, then it is not a goal. That is the way I understand the rule. For me, it was pretty straightforward. No sense in complaining about it. Just move on.