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

Sheldon Keefe addressed the media after his team’s 2-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens in the fourth game of the 2023 preseason.

On Matthew Knies’ training camp:

He has just picked up where he left off in the playoffs. He stepped in out of college last season at the hardest time of the year and showed he can not just play but help and contribute. He has just picked up where he left off.

I am happy he has just picked up and is working. Some of the areas that I thought were issues for him — in particular, on the wall in our own zone and stuff like that — he has improved upon.

He shows a real capacity to learn and apply lessons. He has been great. I was happy to see him finally shoot the puck tonight, too. He has done everything but that. I think getting one in will encourage him to shoot even more.

On Knies’ fit on the PK:

With his speed, his length, his reach, his tenacity, his ability to get a stick on pucks and win a loose-puck battle is really, really good. We think those are strong assets to have in a penalty killer, particularly with how we kill penalties with a lot of pressure.

He has done a good job of that. For some of the reads, Dean [Chynoweth] has had to work with him on it, and he will continue to do that. But how he has handled the penalty kill thus far has been really positive.

Now, it helps that Montreal’s power play is probably sitting on their couch tonight, but these are good reps and important reps to get.

On what Timothy Liljegren needs to do to take a step into a top-four role:

Just keep doing what he has been doing. He has been excellent.

You guys probably put more attention on the top four than me. He has a spot in the lineup, and he is going to play a lot. He is going to kill penalties. He has shown an ability to play on the power play. Guy [Boucher] really likes him there.

He is going to play a lot for us no matter how he slots in. I am not too focused on putting a label on it.

On Conor Timmins’ play without the puck:

To me, he battled really hard tonight. He took on some big minutes. He had to play a bunch in some tough spots and some spots where we haven’t used him as much. That is what this time of season is for. I thought he looked really good tonight.

On Ilya Samsonov’s first preseason performance:

I thought he was solid. We didn’t give up a lot, but there were some flurries around the net there that he had to really compete for.

From our perspective, this is probably as good as you could ask for. It was not an overwhelming amount of work, but certainly, there was enough there that he had to still track the puck and battle.

He looked very solid. He looked very confident. He kept the puck out of the net, so from my perspective, it was a great night for him.

On how Noah Gregor has handled the PTO opportunity:

He has brought lots. I think he is a confident guy. He should be. We have made it very clear to him that we like him and there is an opportunity here for him to just go out and be himself. He has played a lot in the league. He has lots of reasons to be confident there.

I think he has done a good job. I moved him around a bit tonight. I put him up with Holmberg and Bertuzzi a little bit to give Robertson some time with Kampf and Reaves, but I put Gregor back with Kampf in the third period. I thought that line did a really nice job for us, especially to close out the game there.

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