Sheldon Keefe addressed the media after his team’s 4-3 loss to the Boston Bruins which dropped the Leafs’ record to 26-11-7.
On his takeaways from a hard-fought defeat against an elite opponent:
The big thing is that we can play with any team in the league. We can do it on the road. We can do it with three games in four nights and all of those kinds of things.
At the same time, you know you can’t beat yourself when you are playing any team in the league, but when you’re playing a team of this calibre, you can’t give them freebies — and we did.
Those are the two big things to take away from this. Both are very positive. You have to learn these lessons sometimes the hard way. You’d like to think our group is past some of these things, but clearly not. We got a smack right in the face tonight
… They’re a good team. They close fast. There is not as much time on the ice as there is normally. You are forced to make decisions quicker and execute under pressure. That is the game.
I thought we did a lot of good things in the game today. Against a team that doesn’t give up many leads, we tied the game in the third period. I thought we had some opportunities and time spent in their end. We were right there to get points out of it. We didn’t do it.
There were a lot of positive things to take out of the game today and some not so positive that we will make sure to turn into being productive.
On Matt Murray’s performance:
He pulls a couple off of the goal line that were tap-ins. We gave them some freebies early on. He made some saves there for sure. You like his game. He probably wants goals three and four back, but there was a lot of stuff happening in front of him there that shouldn’t even allow those shots to get to him.
On the decision to re-unite Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner as the game wore on and whether he might stick with it for the next game:
To me, it is situational tonight. I thought we needed just a bit more push in the third period. I thought Matthews’ line was going really well even with Will there. I just thought in a game like this tonight, everything considered, we could use a little extra push. I thought Mitch might get energized and give a boost to the group.
Ultimately, that group made a play for us. In terms of what we will do going forward, I don’t know. Let’s digest this one first.
On Wayne Simmonds and Nick Foligno dropping the gloves early in the game:
I think it is two teams recognizing that they are going to play a very competitive and hard-fought hockey game. That’s what I like about our team. I don’t think we backed down. I thought we were very physical and strong on the puck. I thought we hit back and initiated at times.
Obviously, we were down in the third period. We pushed back to tie the game. There were a lot of really good things our team did today in terms of their fight and their compete. I thought Simmer set the tone in that regard.
On Morgan Rielly and Conor Timmins’ giveaways leading to goals and whether he re-thought the pairings:
The players need to make better plays in those spots. I don’t think it is necessarily the pairings.
We’ve been talking about Conor Timmins a lot and how positive the plays that he makes are, how much he is contributing, and how he moves the puck. For players that move the puck a lot and move the puck well, at times, they are going to make a mistake. That is just the reality of it.
We are not going to overthink it. We need to encourage him to continue to go out and make plays for us. Morgan is just the same, and John [Tavares].
That is the reality of it, but you feel it when it has the impact on the game that it did tonight. I expect we will be better going forward.
On Auston Matthews’ pace and performance in his first game back:
I thought he was great. I thought he had lots of jump. He was all over the puck. He had some good looks even before the goal. The goal is a world-class finish. It sure is nice to have him back in a game of his calibre for sure.