Sheldon Keefe addressed the media after his team’s 4-3 win over the Detroit Red Wings in the penultimate game of the 2023 preseason.
On what the team needs to work on over the next few days:
We just need to continue to refine our game. Every area needs to get better. You see how it is once you flip into next week, our group is here, and the regular season is right there.
In terms of this game tonight, I thought our third period was our best period of preseason. You are talking about getting better as you go, and for a lot of our guys, this will be their last game tonight. For the third period to go the way that it did, I am happy with that.
On Fraser Minten’s performance:
He was good just like he has been. He played smart. He competed. He had good pace and good speed on the puck. He did well on faceoffs — probably better than he has done in some other games, actually. He did a good job.
On evaluating a young player against an AHL lineup:
It is harder for sure. The preseason in general is hard, right? But it is what you have. You have to be able to sort through it.
The thing with Fraser is that he really hasn’t taken a step back at any time. That is really what you are looking for with young guys. We will continue to look at him. He will be back in on Saturday.
It is not just him. There are a number of young guys competing for spots as well. They will all get their chance to go back in on Saturday. We will make the decisions.
On Tyler Bertuzzi’s fit with Matthews and Marner so far:
I thought today was his best game — not just because of his goal, but I just thought he had a little more pace. I thought that line was a little more connected, especially as the game went on. It was our best period and the best period for that line. Again, that is encouraging.
On how William Nylander and Auston Matthews have shown on the PK:
Today, I thought the penalty kill was probably the best that it has been. We made a mistake on the one goal. Jarny missed his assignment there; it looked like a guy who hasn’t played in preseason. I don’t know if he made that mistake once last season.
Aside from that, I thought we did a good job on the PK. We had some good chances. Those guys had some jump. Also, I thought they kept their shifts short. They got off at the right times.
I thought we had good flow. I think we used eight penalty killers at different times tonight. I liked that. We will look to continue with that: getting people more involved with that as we try to find our rhythm and get ready for the regular season.
It was good reps for those guys today. Those are not NHL-calibre power plays that they are going up against, but again, we can only take what we have in front of us. They did a good job for us tonight.
On Ryan Reaves’ camp:
It has been great. I have been really happy with him all the way through. I have learned a lot about his game and him as a pro. To me, he has been very solid in doing his job in every game.
If the puck comes to him, he advances it. He makes very few — if any — mistakes defensively. He is in good spots. He pays attention to it. You can see why he has played in the league for a long time. It is not just because of the toughness and intangibles that he brings. His overall game is very efficient.
No matter who we have played him with, that line — on a lot of nights — has been one of our best lines. A lot of that is just because they are just out there playing. They are not trying to do anything or be anything that they are not. He knows exactly what keeps him in the league. I think he has done a really good job of showing that here early.
On Ilya Samsonov’s performance:
He didn’t get tested a lot, but there are some things there we want to get him to tighten up on for sure.
On seeing Justin Holl in the opposition’s sweater for the first time:
I’ve seen him in blue and white for a lot of years now between the Marlies and here. Justin was a really good player for us and for me. With the Marlies, I won a championship with him. He gave us a lot of good years and minutes here. I am happy to see him get paid.
Toronto Maple Leafs Lineup
#59 Tyler Bertuzzi – #34 Auston Matthews – #16 Mitch Marner
#11 Max Domi – #91 John Tavares – #88 William Nylander
#23 Matthew Knies – #39 Fraser Minten – #19 Calle Jarnkrok
#29 Pontus Holmberg – #64 David Kampf – #75 Ryan Reaves
#44 Morgan Rielly – #78 TJ Brodie
#22 Jake McCabe – #2 Simon Benoit
#55 Mark Giordano – #37 Timothy Liljegren
#35 Ilya Samsonov
#60 Joseph Woll
Detroit Red Wings Lineup
Soderblom – Veleno – Fischer
Berggren – Danielson – Kostin
Doucet – Lombardi – Hirose
Spezia – Bliss – Sawchuk
Gostisbehere – Chiarot
Johansson – Holl
Wallander – Rafferty