Sheldon Keefe addressed the media after the Maple Leafs’ 4-3 shootout win over the Seattle Kraken which improved the team’s record to 12-6-3.
On giving up a two-goal lead in the third period and whether the team is thinking about the forfeited leads too much:
We don’t like that.
I am sure we are thinking about it too much. We have been in this situation a lot. We are asked about it every single day — and for good reason. We haven’t found a way to get on the right side of it.
At the end of the day, this is a really hard league to get points in. I just looked before I came in. I think there are 23 teams below us in the standings right now, and we haven’t played our best hockey.
We are in a pretty good place while we continue to work through the things that we have to improve on. The points that we have accumulated to this point are not nothing. There are a lot of good things happening there that are putting us in those positions.
Obviously, we know we have to continue to improve in the areas that will get us on the other side of it so that we don’t have to go to overtime or shootout.
Those points aren’t nothing. Those are important.
On Mitch Marner’s confidence once he scored the first goal:
He looked confident to me. He played with authority. Obviously, the two power-play goals get him going, but to me, that is part of it. When you are feeling it, all of a sudden, it starts to come to you. The breakaway goal is vintage Mitch Marner breaking away like that and capitalizing. Again, he scored with authority in the shootout.
It is a great sign for us.
On the ripple effect on the team when Marner is confident again:
It is a positive, obviously. He is an important guy for us for so many reasons. Even on the nights when he is not scoring or it is not happening for him offensively, he does so many important things for us defensively and on the penalty kill.
For him to have a breakout game like that, I suspect he will be a lot more relaxed. He can just go out and play. That is very positive for him and us.
On what he’s noticed about Joseph Woll as he’s strung together wins:
Just confidence. He gave up the two in the third, but he was right there to make the next save. He got us through the overtime. He was great in the shootout, too.
On Woll rewarding the coach for his confidence in him:
It is huge. My feelings on it don’t really matter, but his teammates feel it back there. When we make a mistake, he is there. He is competing. It seems like he is growing every single start. That is an important piece for our team.
Ilya Samsonov is not to be forgotten about. He is continuing to work at his game. He is going to factor in and be important for us.
To see Joseph growing like this through this process of this week — as we have started to get into more of an NHL-type rhythm — is great. Clearly, he is the backbone of getting these points of late.
On the cobbled-together blue line:
We’ve asked a lot of our guys. We are asking a lot of the guys who are playing more minutes. We are asking a lot of the Lagessons, Timmins, and Benoits of the world. They are playing more and in different spots. We are asking a lot there, but the guys are managing it.
Is it a factor? On the two goals we gave up in the third period, there was some soft defending there. We just didn’t close quickly enough. Perhaps that is some of what you are seeing in those moments.
To me, we have to manage those situations better, but credit to the guys. Whether it is the situation we are in tonight with six D or the times this season we’ve had to play with five, the D core has — for the most part — responded and found a way to keep us hanging around in these games.
On the team showing resilience despite giving up leads:
We have to get some saves and all of that kind of stuff to help us get through [the OT] but the guys aren’t rattled. They just keep playing. That is why we are able to get these points. They are not throwaway points. They are important.
We are still working our way through our game, but collecting points is not nothing. It shows the character of our group and some mental toughness to stay with it. It has been kind of building of late for good reason. We have to find a way to get on the right side of these things, but while we are working through it, it is good to continue to pile up the points. There are a lot of teams that are not doing that.
It is not at all negative. We know we have to get better, and we will get better. There are still a lot of good things happening that are putting us in these spots. It is very obvious where we need to continue to grow. We are not there yet, but we have put ourselves in a good position nonetheless.
On moving Matthew Knies off of the Matthews unit late in the game and Knies’ performance on the line:
Matt has been like that line — kind of up and down. If I remember it correctly, I think Knies got stuck out there for a really long shift at one point in time. I just thought he wasn’t quite recovered enough, so we went with Jarnkrok in that spot.
As we have talked about, he has great size and a skill set that clearly shows he should be in this league, and yet he is a young guy who is figuring it out. Some of those moments show up.
He is not the only one. Nick Robertson is trying to find the league and figure it out as well. That is part of the process of becoming an NHLer, especially for those who don’t spend much time — or in Knies’ case, any time — in the American league.