Sheldon Keefe addressed the media after the Maple Leafs’ 2-1 shootout win over the Florida Panthers which improved the team’s record to 11-6-3.
On the team’s performance:
I thought we started the game fine. We knew they were going to make it hard on us. We started fine, and we were making our way through the game. With eight minutes left in the first period, shots were 7-7 and it was 0-0.
We just sagged after that. Credit to Florida. They were making it hard on us. I don’t know what it was. It coincided with Mitch taking that puck to the face. I don’t know if that is it. I don’t think it should be it. But that was the checkpoint. I went to check on Mitch’s injury and saw what the shots were. There were eight minutes left.
We just really had an emotional sag after that. When you sag emotionally and competitively and lose your intensity against that team, it is going to look the way it did the rest of the first period.
I thought we got real life from our penalty kill in the second period. From there, it is a pretty even game. We were right there. We hit a couple of posts, crossbars, and pucks were sitting on the goal line.
We have had some of that bad luck recently where the puck just doesn’t seem to fall for us, but I liked that we stayed with it. We found a way to get the second point again, but I think this was a hard-fought game that required a lot from our guys. I thought we stood in there.
On the shootout goal review that ruled off Evan Rodrigues’ winning goal:
I thought he might have pushed his pad in with his stick and that’s why the puck went in. I gave that a quick second look on the bench before I left. I didn’t see that, so I left. I didn’t catch the fact that it was a two-touch on it. I was back in the room. Woll and I were back here as well as a couple of others.
As soon as I walked into the coaches’ room, our video guys said this is going to come back. I headed back out.
On Noah Gregor’s performance (one goal plus the shootout winner):
It is huge. He has had a ton of opportunities just like that one — maybe not as clean in terms of getting in alone but putting the D on their heels and getting in behind them. He certainly shows that skill set.
I really liked his game today. I tried to give him a little bit extra here and there on some different lines, including a shift on the power play. You go to him in the shootout because you feel like he is having a good night. You hope for the best.
It was great to see him come through for the guys tonight.
On the decision to go with Gregor in the shootout:
I was thinking about it before the Rodrigues shot. I was thinking about him then. Obviously, we didn’t need him, so I didn’t communicate it to him. I came back from the room and told him he was going.
Probably better it worked out that way. He didn’t have much time to think about it. Just go out and shoot. Generally, if we have a chance to win a shootout with a save, I try not to tell too many guys or mess with it too much, especially for guys who don’t shoot that often. The first three guys I tell right off the start and in what order, but after that, I am waiting to feel it out.
Especially when we get past our first three, we have a lot of guys who either haven’t shot or haven’t had much success. You kind of feel it out from there.
On the status of Mitch Marner and Mark Giordano’s injuries:
Mitch seems fine other than a pretty good gash on his cheek or jawline there.
I haven’t gotten the final report on Gio, but it looks like he is going to miss time.
On Joseph Woll’s performance:
Outstanding. Just so solid.
This has been a problem for us in the last little bit. A lot of the best chances we have given up has come off of our breakouts. We are giving the puck back to the other team, and all of a sudden, it is at our net. You don’t have a lot of time to think, get set, or make any reads. You just have to battle and be athletic and compete. He did that.
His play through the final segment of the first period keeps us around in the game. I didn’t think we gave up very much after that for the most part, but anything that we did, he was solid. And of course [he was solid] in OT and shootout.
On the team running out of healthy defensemen:
We are getting thin. We were just talking about it. We are thin, and we had some guys who played big minutes today. We are thinking we might be shorthanded for practice tomorrow just giving some guys time away. It is a busy week for us in terms of every other day. We asked a lot of those guys today. They stood in there.
On using Jake McCabe in three-on-three OT:
Yeah, and Conor Timmins. It is kind of what it is called for.
We have done that a few times this season where we have had to play with five guys. The team has taken care of them. The guys have done a really nice job. Mike Van Ryn has done a good job of managing it.
It is not ideal by any stretch, especially against a forechecking team like that. Really pleased with how the guys handled it.