Sheldon Keefe addressed the media after his team’s 5-1 win over the Seattle Kraken which improved the Leafs’ record to 37-15-8.
On the team shaking off the opening goal against:
Gio settled us down with his goal. Maybe it is a little good fortune for his time spent here — I don’t know — but it certainly settled us down for sure.
I am not sure why we started the way that we did in terms of giving them the puck back. I was a little concerned coming into the game, frankly, just with the travel, time change, and disruption of sleep. You are a little unsure about how it is going to affect the group.
Certainly, it looked like it maybe was a factor early. Once we did get through the fog, I thought our guys settled in really well. Obviously, we had a tremendous first 15 minutes in that first period. It was a different fashion than what it was in Buffalo, but in essence, we won the game in that sequence.
On Auston Matthews coming to life offensively (two goals) after Mitch Marner rejoined his line:
That is the intent when you make the change. You are thrilled to see it come together like that in terms of how they scored and the jump Auston had tonight being all around the net and all around the puck.
We had good and important goals all throughout the lineup with different lines contributing and good shifts from each line.
In the second period, I would like us to manage that better. There were some real long sequences in there where we couldn’t get out of our end and were on our heels a bit.
I really liked our third period. I thought we took care of it well there.
On the team’s third period:
The last time we were in Buffalo, we had a very comfortable lead — more comfortable than tonight even, and then all of a sudden, it is 5-3. You are protecting the lead there. Their goalie is out and all of these things.
We didn’t want it to be like that. We wanted to close the deal. We wanted to do it by controlling play and playing on their half of the ice, defending hard, and getting out of our zone quickly.
I thought the guys did a good job of that. Most importantly, we just didn’t want to give the opposition any real life. Aside from the penalty that we took and the power play, I thought we did a good job of that.
On whether the team was more prepared for Seattle than the first game against them (a 5-1 loss):
The last time we played these guys, they were leading the league in goals. We knew what to expect there. In fact, when you look at a lot of the areas statistically, we might have played a better game at home, and we lost 5-1. The difference is today, we scored early and got a good lead.
The last time we played them, we had a ton of opportunities we either missed the net on or didn’t convert on. We had three 2-on-1s in the first period the last time we played these guys, and we didn’t register a shot on goal.
In a lot of ways, we played well last time we played these guys, but we just didn’t score. We gave up some really good looks.
Tonight, one of the good things about how we played is that even when they had some of their long, extended time in the zone, there was not a whole lot happening. They were shooting from distance. We had people all around the puck.
This team is very, very dangerous on the rush. I thought our defense on the rush tonight was excellent. That really took away that threat.
That was important for us. That is three games in a row now where that area has been really solid.
On John Tavares’ adjustment to the wing through five games:
I think he has adjusted well. Moving from center to wing is really not that big of a deal. I think we make a bigger deal of it than it really is.
We make a big deal of it with a guy who has played so long in the middle, of course, but in terms of the actual play and making the adjustment, probably the biggest thing is just accepting it and being in the right place mentally. Certainly, John has been right from the time I discussed it with him.
He just continues to play. He has fit in well with O’Reilly. He is going to the net. Pucks are getting there. He is as good as anybody in the league in that area.