Sheldon Keefe addressed the media after his team’s 4-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets which improved the Leafs’ record to 28-11-7.
On Auston Matthews tipping the game in his team’s favour in the second period:
I loved how Auston went out and took charge of the game to start the second period. I thought that was excellent. I thought we were good from there.
We were not perfect; that is a good team on the other side that was pushing and not making it easy on us.
Auston took over.
On what he noticed about Matthews’ game as he was taking it over:
I noticed the puck hitting the mesh.
On whether it was Matthews’ most complete game of the season at both ends of the ice:
I don’t know about that. He has had some really good [games]. It is probably the game that looked the closest to him last year in terms of him being dangerous and the way the puck went into the net. He could’ve had four or five tonight.
I don’t know if I would say it was his most complete game. He has played a lot of really good hockey despite not playing at the same rate offensively that he did last season.
On Matthews’ shot block in the third period providing an example of another way he impacts the game positively:
He does what it takes to help us win games. It shows up in different ways. I am not sure where he sits in the league for blocked shots for forwards, but he is a guy that has no issue getting in the way of shots.
Sometimes, you maybe squint a bit when those hit him there. But he is doing what it takes to help us win.
On Ilya Samsonov’s performance:
He was terrific. In that first period, I thought we were on our heels a bit just with their speed and the pace that they played with — their best players, especially.
Part of it is that they are really fast. Part of it is that we played into that a little bit too much. Sammy had to be really strong.
A lot of the shots he faced were straight on — still dangerous shots from really good shooters, but we didn’t allow much in terms of side to side or clean in behind us. It allowed him to get some really good action and get involved and engaged in the game on some dangerous-looking chances, and yet I thought they were manageable. He was really solid on them.
Without a doubt, it allowed us to get out of that first period and get going.
On why Samsonov has been so good at home and Matt Murray has been better on the road:
I don’t have a theory other than to say: With the way the schedule has fallen for each of them, it is just sort of the way the games have gone. They have found their groove in each of those spots.
It wasn’t a plan or anything like that for us going into the season. It is just kind of how the schedule has fallen. They have been pretty much alternating, and at times, there is some doubling up there.
It is definitely a thing. It is something we are looking at. As we have talked about with Murray, we are trying to get him a little bit more action at home. We have been trying to get Samsonov some time on the road.
Whatever it is, I’ll take it.
On the threat Mitch Marner creates on counterattacks on the penalty kill:
He is just a very good player with great instincts — great instincts to create the turnover to get the transition going the other way.
If you look at the play he made tonight, he is just reading where that puck is going to go, and he is there to meet it. He catches you going the other way.
I love that in the moment, he looked to the pass, and it wasn’t a great option in terms of the spacing that was there. It was a big-time shot. That is a huge moment in the game.
It is a very dangerous power play on the other side. For us to turn it like that was great. He is just a really good player with those great instincts that put him in those positions.
On whether he can sense when Marner is about to jump on a play with his anticipation on the PK:
There are times for sure that you can sense something is going to happen and that he is sensing the opposition is either, A) vulnerable, or B) going to fall into the trap that he is setting. That is sort of what he does and is a big part of what makes him a good defensive player.
On Timothy Liljegren’s status after taking a puck to the face and leaving the game in the third period:
I haven’t heard. We are hopeful. It looked like he just got a puck to the face and was a little bit stunned by that. I am not sure if there is any damage in terms of a cut or anything, but he was having to go through the proper protocols.