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

Sheldon Keefe addressed the media after the Maple Leafs’ 4-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning which dropped the team’s record to 43-23-9.

On the team’s performance:

I really liked our first period. I liked lots about our first period. Defensively, it was outstanding. We didn’t give up a shot for the first 10 minutes of the game. That was really good.

The penalty kill was outstanding tonight against the toughest challenge in the league. You win the special teams battle against a team at the top of the league in special teams. When you do that against this team, you are putting yourself in a pretty good spot to win the game.

Ultimately, I think we were in a pretty good spot to win the game, but we made a few more mistakes than they did. They played a really good, smart defensive game. They didn’t give us a lot. When we did get to their net, their goalie was outstanding. We didn’t get there enough.

We made some mistakes they capitalized on, right? We left Point open and alone at the net. We gave Stamkos a 2-on-1. Ultimately, that is really the difference in the game.

On the breakdown on the Brayden Point goal:

Kamper left the net front. He just has to hang out there and let the D recover. He has to hold. He got a little impatient there.

On why the fourth line took the assignment for that d-zone shift leading to the Point goal:

A couple of things.

You have to trust some other guys. It is that time of the year. That line, to me, was our best line in the first period. We want to put them in a position. They had a couple of shifts against that line in the first period that went extremely well for us.

Matthews and Tavares, because we had been chasing the matchups… We came out of a power play not long before that or a penalty kill. We needed another line. To me, especially right now, that is my third option in defensive situations. We needed to get through that.

We are fine if Kampfer just holds the net front. We would’ve been okay there. We made a mistake.

On the reasons for Ryan Reaves’ uptick over the last few weeks:

Hard to say. He would have better answers for you on that.

Tonight was by far and away the most physical he has been in terms of being able to get there on time, make the contacts, and have them be impactful contacts that really set a tone in the game. Not only that, but we also got pucks back. Now he is getting to the net front.

That line was a real highlight for us in the first period. Reavo was leading the charge. That is terrific to see.

It wasn’t just that. After the whistles, I thought he was a really strong presence in the game. He handled himself extremely well in the fight. He certainly did his job tonight.

On Joseph Woll’s performance:

It is a tough game, right? He doesn’t get a shot for the first 10 minutes, and then it is a laser from the top with traffic via Hedman. Then Brayden Point is left alone, and Stamkos is in alone on a 2-on-1. Those are some tough spots.

You probably need a save on one of those three to keep us going, especially with the quality of goaltending at the other end. That is the reality of the game.

He made a couple of big saves once it was at three to keep it there and allow us to get a chance to stay in the game. He did his job in that sense.

It is one of those games where one or mistakes our way and one or two saves their way are really what the game comes down to. We were playing from behind against a team that plays smart. That was a textbook third period from their perspective.

It just shows that playing from behind is a bad recipe.

On whether the Lightning are a team other opponents in the East are going to want to avoid in the playoffs:

I don’t know how you pick them in the East or the West. There is not a lot of separation between the teams. There are a lot of teams going into the playoffs thinking they can win a Cup. Teams like us and Tampa are still trying to secure a spot in the playoffs.

I don’t think anybody is overly excited to play anyone in terms of picking a matchup and feeling like it should be all right. We have seen numerous historical examples of the first round being a challenge and battle.

The goaltending is a huge part of it, but with the pillars they have on defense and forward, those guys have a ton of experience and have won a lot. They have a great culture there, which we know from playing against them as much as we have.

I thought they played a really good road game. Ultimately, we didn’t have enough to get on the right side of it.