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

Sheldon Keefe addressed the media after the Maple Leafs’ 7-3 win over the Arizona Coyotes which improved the team’s record to 32-16-8.

On the team’s strong performance in the second half of a back-to-back:

We got through the first few minutes where they were really coming at us there. Once we adjusted to the game… It is a good team over there, quite obviously, and they play and compete at a high level. It demands more of the group.

We talked about that coming into the game. It is one thing to talk about it. It is another thing to get on the ice and feel your way through that.

Once we adjusted to it, we really started to come on. We started to skate really well. This team, probably more than any in the league, makes it hard to get to their net. We had to really be committed to getting to that space.

I thought we did a really good job of it. Every single line did a really good job. Our defense contributed. Getting to their net and stressing their goaltender allowed us to really get going in the game.

On the play of the middle-six forward lines since splitting up William Nylander and John Tavares:

It has been great. It felt like our depth could be a real factor today. [The Golden Knights] are shorthanded up front. They were missing four forwards. It takes a significant chunk out of their depth. You had a pretty good feeling that if our guys could get going, they would have a good chance to make a real impact in the game tonight. That is how it worked out.

For a game like this against a team like that, to have those guys contributing on different lines and for the Kampf line to have the game that they did, it is really, really good for our team.

On Max Domi’s play since joining the line with Nylander:

He has been great. He has been working.

Today, he scores great goals for us, but his checking defensively coming back, tracking, getting back above the puck, and using his speed and tenacity to close plays defensively have been tremendous.

That is going to allow him to continue to play a role in a situation like that. When he is skating and competing at that level, he can play against anybody in the league. We can see what he can contribute offensively, whether it is scoring as he has tonight or if it’s making plays and facilitating for others.

On Morgan Rielly’s first game back:

I thought he was great. I thought he skated extremely well. Maybe it was because we hadn’t had him, but he just looked fast. He was flying through the middle of the ice up and down the rink. It really helped us pushing out on breakouts as well as joining and helping the attack.

It is great to have him and great to get a win for him, too.

On whether this is as good as we have seen the team play all season:

I think that is fair, especially with the consistency. We have been talking about consistency being the difference. We have played good hockey over the course of the season, but we haven’t put together a stretch like this. That is what has been tremendous.

In the response to losing Morgan as we did as well as the injuries and illnesses we have been dealing with, the guys haven’t been fazed. They have just been growing their game one game at a time.

Tonight’s game was going to require more than what we had been doing in previous games. We had to be better. I thought we were. It was great.

I don’t like that they scored early in the second and I don’t like that they scored early in the third, but what it did do was sort of raise the temperature of the game again for us. It gave us an opportunity to respond and play again in a very competitive game where they were really pushing. We need to be in these situations as much as possible.

As much as you want to be comfortable and sail away, the fact that they pushed us back and we had to withstand that without breaking and then push back ourselves — on a back-to-back with a team rolling as it has been — I was really thrilled with.