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

Sheldon Keefe addressed the media after the Maple Leafs’ 6-5 loss to the New Jersey Devils which dropped the team’s record to 46-24-9.

On the sloppy nature of the game:

It was a loose game and a strange game. We scored on the first shift on the first shot. We gave them a couple of gifts after that.

Strange game tonight. It is not one that you love, but we will move on.

On whether it was part and parcel with a late-regular-season game:

These things happen. We didn’t play as bad of a game as the score shows, but these things happen, especially at this time of year. We’ll move on.

On the potential of a Nylander – Tavares – Marner line:

I see lots of potential in it. I wanted to get them some reps. I see it as something I can move to through a game when it is hard to really get rhythm with three lines. I think it is a way to simplify it a little bit and get those guys out there.

I thought they were really good tonight, actually.

On Max Domi stepping in to fight Simon Nemec and the effect of losing Domi to the penalty box for 17 minutes:

Max is all about the team and is responding to a situation he felt needed to be addressed. You love that about him.

It has an impact on the game. You not only have to kill a penalty, but it disrupts the rhythm and the flow of the bench. But we’ll take it. You have to be able to manage and handle that.

He was playing so well, especially, and losing him for 17 minutes is not ideal.

On Ilya Samsonov’s performance:

We clearly hung him out to dry early in the hockey game, so we don’t give him much of an opportunity to be in this game today. We’ll move on as a team. We need him to move on as well.

He has been outstanding for us, and he will be outstanding next time out. I was looking at it before the game, and I can’t remember the number, but it caught my eye how few regulation losses he has had this season. It is pretty remarkable the opportunities to win he has given us this season.

He will rinse this one pretty quickly.

On how much he knew about Max Domi’s playmaking ability prior to Domi joining the Leafs:

Quite a bit. I saw it on full display in London many years ago starting there.

Throughout his career, looking at his game closer this past offseason when we got him, it is very clear he has that ability. The way he has connected with Auston has been remarkable and great to see. It is something we didn’t get to until this part of the season for a lot of different reasons.

There is Mitch and Auston and their connection, as well as Willy and Auston. When we moved Max into the middle earlier in the season, he started to really thrive and gave us a third-line center option.

All of these sorts of things stopped us from doing this, but the connection has been terrific. Max is serving his role on that line extremely well. Auston seems to be enjoying it. He is free and doing his thing.

Bert’s role on that line is integral. If you break down Bert’s game, he gets pucks, moves them, gets to the net, and creates space for others.

The way the three of them are working has been really great.

On how much he cares about home-ice advantage in round one:

We play the games. We try to win every single game. Wherever the games are played in the end, we will be ready.

On how badly the team would like Auston Matthews to score his 70th in the final regular-season home game on Saturday:

It would be terrific. 70 is a nice round number to aspire to, but what he is doing right now is pretty incredible. He is rewriting the record books. There are a lot of Leafs fans who, in their lifetime, haven’t seen that many goals in the NHL.

It is pretty remarkable. Wherever this ends up going, who knows, but I wouldn’t put any limit on it at this point. It is just terrific to watch.

I thought tonight was the first time — especially after he got the first one — I saw us start to force it a little bit to him, and things started to break down. I didn’t love to see that. He doesn’t need that. Just play the game. He is good enough as it is. It is going to find its way to his stick.

The way he himself has continued to play hard, lead the way for us, and embrace his line and his linemates has been great. The fans got to see this tonight. He’ll stay at it again on Saturday.

On Rodion Amirov’s family attending the game:

I don’t know a lot of the details. We haven’t gotten a chance to meet them yet, but I knew this was happening and this was the game that worked where they could bring the family in. It was something that was in the works for a while.

It was quite the moment. Rodion’s time here made an impact on our group. The story is extremely sad. The family should be coming here to watch their son play in the NHL here in Toronto. It is clearly an emotional time.

I really felt for the family. At the same time, it is terrific to have them here. I am glad that they had that moment and the fans recognized it.