Sheldon Keefe, Toronto Maple Leafs practice
Sheldon Keefe, Toronto Maple Leafs practice

After a rest day on Friday, head coach Sheldon Keefe discussed the challenge ahead as the Maple Leafs attempt to close out the series on the road in Game 6.

What are your points of emphasis with the series heading back to Tampa?

Keefe: Just use today as an opportunity — like we did after Game 2 — to rest, recover, and have our mindset right as we travel out to Tampa.

It’s a recovery day today. We will get out to Tampa and dig into the details tomorrow.

Do you need to go to 11 and 7 to alter the lineup and get the most and best out of your group?

Keefe: We are looking at everything today. We have a couple of things happening with some of our players in terms of injuries and such that will play themselves out throughout the day today and probably part of tomorrow.

We are looking at what all of our options might be to give us the best opportunity to get going tomorrow.

Is considering Michael Bunting as an option a part of that?

Keefe: Yes, of course.

What could Bunting bring after watching the last four games?

Keefe: He would bring energy. That would be the first thing, both in how he plays and the fact that he hasn’t played.

As the series goes on, it wears on everybody in terms of the grind that it is. Having a guy that hasn’t played come in can give us a boost that way. Those are all of the things you consider any time you are going to make a change.

You got a lot of good hockey out of Mark Giordano and Justin Holl earlier this season. What do they need to do to get back to that?

Keefe: There are a couple of things to it. There is the defensive piece and keeping things in front of you and not letting guys in behind. That would be a big one.

Those guys have done a really good job for us all season. It has been interesting. We have had some guys that have taken a step backward from the regular season. Some guys have taken a big step forward.

The time of the year, the challenge of the opponent, and all of those kinds of things affect everybody differently. Certainly, those guys have been and can be better again.

You basically shut down Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos, and Brayden Point last night. Their even-strength numbers throughout the series are quite low. How frustrating is it that you were able to do that and still not come away with the win?

Keefe: That is part of it. Tampa is a deep team that can hurt you in different ways. It is not unlike last season. I thought we did a good job against those guys last season as well, but it is a long series.

When you are playing a long series, whether it is our team or their team, you are going to have some nights where your big guys are going to step up and carry you through. Sometimes, they are going to have off nights or are going to be checked really hard and your depth comes through or your special teams come through.

Over the course of a series, you experience a little bit of all of that. Last night, it was their depth guys that did the work for them offensively. Those types of things happen as a series goes on.

We have had nights where it’s our depth guys doing it for us. In others, our big guys have stepped up and produced at a high rate. You just learn to deal with all of that when you are going up against an opponent like this.

What did you see on the Patrick Maroon hit on Mark Giordano? Is Giordano okay?

Keefe: I think he is doing okay today.

In terms of the hit itself, any time there are hits in the numbers, you are concerned with it. We have had a few of those from that player in particular in this series. When you see a player smash his head off the glass, it is a tough look.

You have mentioned before that it feels different this year. What differences are you noticing today in terms of the response to the loss?

Keefe: Good energy from the group. We had a meeting here today. As a coach, before you walk into the meeting, you are always getting a pretty good sense of where the group is at based on the volume, the chatter, and the energy of the room when you walk in. Today, it was vibrant. That is a really good sign in terms of our mindset here.

Today is a mindset day and [about] making sure we are in the right frame of mind while recognizing we still have a great opportunity here to win a series. We have put ourselves in a good spot through the work that we have done over the course of the series. I think the guys recognize that.

Based on the mood today, there is excitement to get out on the road and get back to it.

Where is the team’s confidence level going into Tampa given the team’s two wins in there this week and the regular season win at the end of the regular season schedule as well?

Keefe: I think both teams have shown they can win in either building and in any situation. Certainly, that helps our cause. You can’t just lean on that. We have to still play better.

That is the big focus and where the confidence might come from. We got the two wins on the road despite not playing our best hockey. Collectively and individually, we think we can get to another level. That is just what is going to be required to defeat a team like this.