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

After practice on Tuesday, Sheldon Keefe discussed his situation in net ahead of Game 4 and the pressure on his core to step up in a do-or-die game and extend the series.

Practice Lines – May 9

What is the update on Ilya Samsonov?

Keefe: Sammy is not available tomorrow [due to an upper-body injury]. He is day-to-day. That is really it.

Joe [Woll] will go. As I have been maintaining here, we have lots of confidence in him. We are excited for him to have that opportunity.

Did you consider playing Matt Murray at all for Game 4?

Keefe: No.

With Jake Muzzin having such a presence still around the team, do you — and can you — lean on his experience of being part of a team that has erased a 3-0 series deficit?

Keefe: We lean on Jake a lot throughout the season. Some of it is spoken, but most of it is unspoken just with his presence being around. A lot of it can be more through his discussions with other players. I would think they lean on him a lot in this case.

As I maintained with the players, I don’t think it makes any sense for us to sit here and focus on coming all the way back. There is only one game on the schedule right now. Let’s focus on that one game. We need to win that one game, and then we can take it from there.

We are looking to build some positive momentum as a team. With the one game that is on the schedule, that is where our focus is.

What are you looking to accomplish with the changes on defense?

Keefe: We are looking to change the group up a little bit and try to get Brodie on the left side to see if it can help us. Also, he and McCabe hasn’t gone the way we would like it to throughout all of the series, frankly. We are trying to change the chemistry of the group a bit there.

We have lots of flexibility within our defense to try different things. Brodie-Holl have played together a lot throughout the season at different times. They have done a really good job. Rielly-Schenn have been really good for us. We want to maintain that. We fall on McCabe-Liljegren, and with Giordano’s presence there as well, it gives us a lot of options to try different things.

We think the timing is right to change it up.

There is such a burden and pressure to produce on Auston Matthews, John Tavares, William Nylander, and Mitch Marner. What is the message to them heading into the must-win game?

Keefe: Just like it doesn’t make sense to sit here and focus on the fact that we have to come back all the way to win four… You can’t win four tomorrow night. You can only win one. The focus is on winning the game. We have to do the things that are necessary to win the game.

Scoring is part of that, but the other night, it was Gustafsson and Lafferty. I don’t know if Kampf pushes one in and we find a way to win 3-2… We’re going to be okay with that. We would live with that.

If we are going to end up on the right side of it, it is because all of those guys you mentioned — who are key players and play as much or more than anybody — are doing good things from shift to shift. They are managing the game well, they are managing the puck well, they are competing, they are playing great defensively, they are minimizing their mistakes, and they are capitalizing on their opportunities. It is all part of it.

Let’s not get distracted from the things that really matter. Those guys carried us offensively through the Tampa series and came through at clutch times. They scored big goals at big moments. We are here playing largely on the backs of how they came through for us in those moments.

They will come through for us again, but our team needs to take care of this situation right now. Everybody has to play their role, give us everything that they have, win one game, and bring this thing back to Toronto. Give us more time for all of these other things to come together. We have to win one game.