Sheldon Keefe, Toronto Maple Leafs head coach
Sheldon Keefe, Toronto Maple Leafs head coach

Ahead of Saturday’s game against Detroit, head coach Sheldon Keefe discussed the impact of the Bertuzzi – Matthews – Domi line, Matt Murray joining the Marlies for a conditioning stint, and his current sense of the playoff lineup.

Morning Skate Notes – Apr. 13

Are there any lineup changes for tonight?

Keefe:  Reaves is in… I can’t even remember the lineup tonight. Edmundson is going to be out.

Did Joel Edmundson re-aggravate his previous injury?

Keefe: Nothing to do with his previous injury. Something has popped up that we are being overly cautious with at this point. He skated today. Nothing we are too concerned about, but everything considered, we will give him tonight off.

Liljegren will go in for him.

What were you looking for from Morgan Rielly and Timothy Liljegren in a pairing together in practice yesterday?

Keefe: All season long, they have been playing together even when not playing together at different times, right? This is more about getting the reps.

They will not be paired together tonight in the game, but they will still get shifts together, and O-zone starts together. We haven’t done it so much through practice, but we have been doing it pretty consistently in games when Liljegren was healthy.

We didn’t put a whole lot of thought into the pairings yesterday as they related specifically to today. We are looking more at the bigger picture.

Matt Murray has been sent to the Marlies on a conditioning stint. Can you speak to what he has been through to get all the way back as he has?

Keefe: It has been tremendous how he has gone about things. It has been very much on the periphery, but you see him in there every day. You see him working, often by himself and at odd hours when there are not many people around. You see him doing his thing.

You have a good appreciation for how long the road has been but also for the mindset that he has maintained all the way through, which is to do everything he can to be ready and give himself an opportunity to get into the net this season.

Just the fact that he is going to go down and play in the American league is a tremendous story. Credit to him and his approach as a pro. It is a distant thing from what we are doing here, but as an independent thing for him, it has been cool to watch.

It is not surprising because he is a pro. There is no doubt about that. Credit to him. I hope he goes down, has some fun, and stops some pucks.

It does not necessarily pertain to Murray, but teams have used multiple goalies in the playoffs in the recent past.

Keefe: There is no shortage of those situations. That is why goaltending depth is important. We have kept Jones around here for the very same reason. It is all important stuff.

Matt himself has a couple of Stanley Cups as a guy who didn’t start in the playoffs. You have all sorts of these stories over time.

You never know what could come about, but it is far from what our focus is right now.

For young hockey players at home such as your own, what would you tell them about Auston Matthews and how he has gone about this season as a player?

Keefe: I am not so sure that my kids could ever relate to what someone like Auston is going through or many kids could, but I do know it is something that is exciting.

I am out and about and in the rinks with my kids. Even yesterday, I had about a dozen 10-year-olds run up to me how many Auston is going to get. Everyone is excited about it.

It is definitely a thing. There are a lot of young Leafs fans — some much older than 10 — who, throughout their lifetime, have not seen something like this in the NHL. I get the hype around it. It is certainly something fun.

I get more of a thrill just watching Auston play and where his game is at. Wherever the number gets to, I am not concerned about it and have never been concerned about it.

I am not even convinced he is concerned about it. Where it sits right now is a pretty tremendous accomplishment. We will see what the rest of the season brings starting tonight, but the most important thing for me is that his game is in good order.

He has developed tremendous chemistry with Max and Bert. It has given us so many more options as a result. That is what has really come out of this for me.

Do you have a picture of what your playoff lineup is going to look like, or do you wait until after game 82 to find out who your opponent is before you put it together?

Keefe: I have a picture of it and have for quite some time now, quite honestly, but to your point about 82, you don’t have all of the information until game 82. There is health, the opponent, and all of those types of things. You never really finalize anything.

You have a sense of what you want to look like, what you want to have, and you are working toward that, but one or two things… For us, right now, Jarnkrok is out. That is a factor. How does that affect the group? If he is in, how would we use him? If he is not in, what are the results? You are trying to manage these kinds of things at this part of the year.

Honestly, with the way things have come together here with Auston, Max, and Bert, it is a real thing. It is not just a short-term thing. It is a real thing that gives our team a completely different look. We have been wanting to give that time.

For me, you are trying to balance getting chemistry, continuity, and all of that, which is on important on one side, but just how important is it? The reality with this team — and this is not to say it is how it works for anyone else — whenever we have had disruptions or change, this group has responded positively and gotten even better.

We are talking about the type of year Auston Matthews has had. We lost Auston unexpectedly for a game and had to throw together some lines against Pittsburgh. We played maybe our best game of the entire season.

These are the kinds of things that are exciting about our group. There is a lot of versatility and people who can do different things with the skill set of the group. Whether it is some of the guys who are in for Game 1 or some of the guys who are out, we have some good options who have all played very well.

We will use all 82 to sort it out, but what you have seen of late is a sense of how you see it going forward.

Is there a Cade Webber contract and a possibility of him joining the team in the works?

Keefe: I know some of that stuff has been out there, but it hasn’t come across my desk now in terms of what it looks like or what its potential is. I don’t know if anything is finalized at this point. It’s not on my radar at this point.