Sheldon Keefe addressed the media after his team’s 5-3 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks which dropped the Leafs’ record to 34-15-8.
On the team’s performance:
I just thought we were very clearly a tired group from the start. We made tired mistakes.
On Ilya Samsonov’s performance:
We made it hard on him. They didn’t have a lot of chances or shots or anything like that, but they had some really clean looks at the goaltender. We didn’t do enough to support him tonight.
On the contributions of Noel Acciari through two games:
He is just a reliable and responsible player on both sides of the puck offensively and defensively. He plays a very hard and simple offensive game, and yet he plays with confidence and poise with his head up to make a play.
He gets rewarded tonight around the net, but he has been around the net in both games. Defensively, he is in good spots. He has an incredible defensive stick. He is just really heavy and hard on the puck. When he pushes on you or leans on you, you stop generally.
Very, very encouraged with what we have seen from him.
On how much additional practice time with the new players could help establish chemistry:
I don’t think a morning skate is going to do much of that, but the best thing for chemistry is playing games. Practice time and all of that to become familiar with the system and structure is perhaps important, and yet these are two very smart players that we brought in. Just like they would’ve said yesterday, just jumping right in and playing games is probably the best thing for him in that sense. Practice time is always nice.
On whether this was a game that the team will flush due to the back-to-back or if the coaching staff will pick it apart:
There are some things that we did… When you are tired, you have to be really smart, structured, and all of that. Some of the clean looks we gave up tonight are the result of just not being smart.
The game-winning goal came off of a four-man rush that ended up being an odd-man rush the other way. It is something that we talked about this morning because a very similar player happened yesterday and it came back to hurt us tonight.
Those kinds of mistakes, you continue to look at. In terms of the energy and execution by the group, we knew it was going to be a tough one today, and yet you are right there in the game.
It is a 1-1 game. They get away with a very blatant trip that doesn’t get called. Instead of us being on the power play, now we are down 2-1. We hit the post, and instead of us being up 4-3, they score shortly after and make it 4-3. You are right there in the game, so credit to the guys for that, but we didn’t play a good or smart enough game to make up for what we were lacking in energy.
On the contrast in Patrick Kane’s performance in the first game vs. Chicago as compared to tonight:
The one in Toronto didn’t get any free looks at the goalie.
On the difference in the game:
I thought we were right there. When we break down the game, we were in control of the puck and the game quite a bit. We were in the offensive zone twice as much as they were.
I don’t know if that was a part of it, but you can’t give a guy like that so many opportunities. They are going to score. You are going to get behind in the game.
When you are playing a game like this tonight like we were, you can’t chase the game and be playing from behind. That is dangerous territory. That caught up to us.