Sheldon Keefe addressed the media after his team’s 4-1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings which dropped the Leafs’ record to 26-10-7.
On the team’s effort in the second half of a back-to-back:
I loved the effort. It is not just the back-to-back. That’s five games in eight days for our team. The fact that we punched back in that second period to make it a game when it was 2-0… You don’t let it run away on you, you scored a big goal, and you are fighting right there, basically, to the end. I loved that.
With our group, we didn’t get generate enough offense to make the game go in our favour, but in terms of the effort, I loved that the guys dug in tonight.
On the rule that disallowed the Bobby McMann goal at the start of the game:
My understanding — and I have asked the officials for the exact clarification on it — is that because it is kicked in any direction and it doesn’t go off of another stick — whether it’s our stick or their stick — it’s no goal. It doesn’t go off any sticks, so it comes back.
Rules are rules. In terms of what should or shouldn’t be, that is over my head.
On whether McMann could stick in the NHL full-time:
It is early here, but he is big. He is fast. He is strong. He works hard. He is first to the puck. That checks a lot of boxes in terms of guys who find a way to contribute and play in the NHL.
It is early, but I have liked what I have seen because of what I just mentioned: the size, the competitiveness, and the strength on the puck. He can do a lot with that.
He is a guy you can rely on. I felt comfortable putting him over the boards in the two games we’ve had him. He’ll continue to go.
On elevating Pontus Holmberg onto the top line partway through the game:
It is less about tonight and more about what he has done for us. To be honest, it was something I thought about last night, but I didn’t think he had a great night last night. I didn’t think the timing was right.
Here tonight, I thought he was a little bit better, and we needed more offense. I just thought the time was right to give him a little bit more there and have a true center in that spot.
I thought we would give him a look. I thought he was good with the puck and made some plays. Obviously, there was not enough from our team as a whole.
On the struggles to generate enough offense inside the dots:
They made it hard. They were fast, hard, and competitive right from the get-go. You could tell that they were fresh and focused.
We had a good start — we had one go in the net that gets called back — but by and large, for the first period, they came at us for sure with lots of pace. I thought our guys pushed back and it was a pretty even game in the second half.
You would expect that we would sort of wear down and get a little worse as the game wore on, but I thought we just dug in and kept coming. They got in our way and made it hard to get to the net nearly enough.
On the decision to insert Jordie Benn and Wayne Simmonds into the lineup:
Just trying to get two guys that I think add a lot of personality and bring a lot to the group. We have played a lot of back-to-backs; in terms of when we got in and all the travel and all of that, this last one might’ve been one of the toughest ones for us just because of the hour that we got in. I was a little bit more concerned tonight and thought we could use their energy and personality.
The guys that we take out didn’t necessarily play a lot yesterday — it is not about that — but it is more just getting those two guys involved.
On whether Auston Matthews should be good to go for the game in Boston on Saturday:
I am not quite sure. He woke up sick today, too. It is a complicated thing. We are not exactly sure where he is at. I haven’t seen or spoken to him today.
I am not quite sure. We are going to be off tomorrow as a team. We will see where we are at on Saturday.
On the current separation in the divisional race against Boston:
It is not much of a race at this point. Unless I am mistaken, they are playing at a pace that is the highest points pace in the history of the NHL. It is not much of a race at this point.
We would like to make it so that they have to try to maintain that pace or we are going to be right there. That is really it.
Obviously, we failed to get points tonight, but any time you play head-to-head, it is a good opportunity to compete. More importantly, it is a good chance for our team to bounce back against a team that is going to push us in all regards. I am excited about that.
We will take a day off tomorrow — much needed — and regroup for Saturday.