Sheldon Keefe, Toronto Maple Leafs post game
Sheldon Keefe, Toronto Maple Leafs post game

Sheldon Keefe addressed the media after the Maple Leafs’ 7-0 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins which improved the team’s record to 16-6-6.

On Matthew Knies starting the game with a goal and a fight:

Terrific start to the game attacking with speed. World-class goal. And then what might have been my overall favourite part of the whole game was how he gets involved physically thereafter.

Great start for us.

On what Knies’ fight says about him as a player:

Just his commitment to the group. Quite honestly, I didn’t see exactly what was initially going on in the corner. I didn’t know how it started.

His first-ever start comes not because of anything to do with him. He just didn’t like what was going on with Max. He steps in and it leads to the fight. He stands his ground.

It is part of the game. He is a big, strong, physical guy who has the ability to assert himself in more ways than just what we saw in that fight and skirmish. You could see the goal that he scored to start the game. To me, that is the complete package he has the ability to grow into in terms of being a physical force.

That is really where the next phase of his development is. It is tough to do at the NHL level as a young guy, but credit to him.

On whether the absence of Auston Matthews really raises the urgency and focuses the rest of the group on the task at hand:

Perhaps. I don’t know if you could ever know for sure. We have played without Auston over the years at different times. The group has reacted well to that. I am certainly thrilled with how guys stepped up here throughout the lineup.

Good energy and a good start to the game. Knies and those guys got us going. The guys never really looked back from there.

Our execution offensively was maybe as good as it has been in a long time. I expected a high-event game tonight. We were hoping to kind of slow it down coming our way and capitalize on what was available the other way. That is really what happened for us.

On Martin Jones stepping up with a great performance:

He was so calm and relaxed in there tonight. With the scoring being what it is, it’s one of those nights where everything is going right offensively. The other night, we were down 5-0, and to me, it is not as bad as the scoreboard shows. When you are up as big as we were tonight, it is not as good necessarily as the scoreboard shows.

There is still lots of stuff coming our way and at our net. The goalie has to be really sharp or the game could change a little bit and momentum could change. He didn’t allow that to happen. He was so calm and relaxed in there that it made everyone else start to feel that much better about themselves and the game.

To me, that is a much bigger part of the game than what the scoreboard might show. We scored some big-time goals and made some great plays, but the goaltending and poise he played with back there is terrific.

It is a credit to him. It shows his professionalism and his experience.

On Bobby McMann finally scoring his first NHL goal:

He has worked incredibly hard. He is not your everyday rookie player given his age and all of these kinds of things. It is a long road for him to get here. Credit to him for the work that he puts in. He works incredibly hard on his body and his game.

It is really nice to see him get rewarded tonight.

On when he found out Auston Matthews was unavailable for tonight’s game:

It was a newer development. He was here at the game. He arrived intending to play, but waking up from his nap, he wasn’t feeling right. He thought he could get through it and tried to do everything he could to be ready to play. Ultimately, he just wasn’t able to. His body wasn’t cooperating with him. He had to go home, and we had to make adjustments.