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

Sheldon Keefe addressed the media after the Maple Leafs’ 5-1 win over the Washington Capitals which improved the team’s record to 41-22-9.

On the team’s response after an “immature” effort vs. New Jersey:

It was good. It was a tidy game. We had a few breakdowns in the first period where I thought Woll made some good saves for us. After that, I thought we were really good and didn’t give up much.

We got a lead. We took care of the lead. We score goals at the start of periods. We had two great penalty kills. Their power play has been rolling, and we didn’t give them a chance to do much tonight.

I liked how we played. I like how we defended. We didn’t give up much of anything in terms of odd-man rushes — no 2-on-1s, no breakaways. It was a tidy game for our group, and we just continued to pull away throughout the game. That is what you are looking to see.

On Mark Giordano scoring in his first game since Feb. 29:

You feel good for him. It is funny how these things work out. We came to the rink this morning, and Gio wasn’t supposed to play. It is funny how these things work out.

As we know, Gio is the ultimate professional. He has worked extremely hard to get back and get ready. He has been through a lot. For it to go his way — post and in — was great. It was a great goal to get us going, too.

On TJ Brodie’s performance:

It was a good, sound team game here for us. Brodie cleaned some things up for us when we needed him to and blocked some shots. He and our defense moved the puck well tonight.

It was a good day. We have nine defensemen here. Now, we have officially used all nine in this last little bit. Guys stepped up. The team played well in front of the defense. The group as a whole played well in front of the goaltender. This is the kind of game you want to have on home ice.

On Joseph Woll’s bounce-back performance:

It was great. In the first period, the save he made on Jensen — who got in alone on a breakdown in d-zone coverage — was probably the biggest chance of the game. I might be mistaken, but I think it was 0-0 at the time. It might’ve been 1-0. Regardless, it is a huge save and doesn’t allow them the chance to get life.

It got us through the first period. It was another good period for us, but on that and a couple of other breakdowns that we had, he had to be good. I thought the group took care of him pretty well from there.

It is a good response, bounce back, or whatever you want to call it. It was a tidy night for Joe, too, to not give them the next one and give them life. They got the tip, but it didn’t seem like anything was dangerous after that.

On Conor Timmins’ progression over the last few games:

I am really happy with it. It has been good that he has had this run. He has been through a lot, too, with his injuries and mono. He got caught up in the numbers game a little bit.

We have needed him of late, and I think he has done a good job. He is competing. He is giving us everything he has to still be true to who he is in terms of moving the puck, making plays, and getting the puck to the net, but we also need him competing and showing that he can defend and be consistent that way. He is working hard through that.

It has been a good stretch of games for him now. That will continue for him. It is a good development for him and for us. When you get injuries, there are opportunities for others as we have seen for others in other cases, but this is Conor’s time.

On Connor Dewar’s first goal as a Leaf:

Quite honestly, it is one of my favourite goals of the season. That is a coach’s goal in a lot of ways. It is kind of how you draw these things up.

For that line, in particular, it starts with Reavo. He comes in on the entry. He doesn’t force it up. He takes care of it and puts it to the bottom. Kampf retrieves it. Side change. Two people at the net. Throw it in there, win a battle, and Dewy finishes it.

It is a great goal for the line and a great goal for Dewar, but to me, Reavo starts the whole thing. That is what you are looking for. At that particular point in the game, too, we were spending a little too much time in our own end. Those guys drove it down the ice, took care of it, and scored a huge goal to make it a two-goal game there.

That is what you are looking for from that line, but Dewar has been really good. He keeps his game pretty simple, but it is reliable and trustworthy. He did a good job on the penalty kill again tonight. We have liked what we have gotten out of him. That line was solid.

On how much of the big uptick in goal production for Tyler Bertuzzi in the last 15 games comes down to puck luck turning around:

Puck luck is a big part of it. Today, he gets one from below the goal line. He couldn’t get one from above the goal line with empty nets before. Now, they are going in for him.

He has worked. He has continued to put himself in good spots. Confidence is a funny thing. When things start to go your way… These are the ebbs and flows of the season.

We are playing Washington tonight, and over the last 25 games, I think they are number one in the league on the power play. They were at 6% or something over the first month of the season. Nothing went their way. Now everything has gone their way. These things happen, fix themselves over the course of 82 games, and land where they should.

It is a good example with what Bert has been through. Credit to him for continuing to stick with it, doing good things, and not getting discouraged. He’s taken advantage of the extra opportunities he has gotten.

It is very important for our team. I have maintained all the way through that Bert is going to be a very important player for us. He is going to score big goals at key times. He is building momentum toward that.

On how close Auston Matthews was to not playing tonight:

It is somewhat unorthodox in terms of not practicing yesterday and there being no morning skate today. That is a little different for guys. They are not used to that in terms of the regular rhythm.

In terms of how close he was to not playing, I am not really sure about that. That was his call. He came to the rink tonight and was good to go. He didn’t come in at all this morning. It looked like he had some energy and found his way through it.

I kept him off the penalty kill to sort of reduce his minutes and responsibility a little bit. That line was good tonight.

On Timothy Liljegren’s status:

Lily was one of the guys yesterday who was not going to be available for practice. He got a little banged up the other night. He tried it today in the morning skate. It just wasn’t right. He is going to miss some time for us.