Sheldon Keefe after 3-0 win over Habs in pre-season: ‘Matt Murray looked excellent’

Sheldon Keefe, Toronto Maple Leafs postgame

Sheldon Keefe spoke to the media after his team’s 3-0 win over the Montreal Canadiens in Game 3 of the 2022-23 pre-season.


Jordie Benn and Carl Dahlstrom injury updates:

Benn has a groin injury and Dahlstrom has a shoulder injury. Both guys will be undergoing more testing tomorrow, so we’ll know more and get it to you once we get it. We don’t know the full extent of it yet, but both guys will run out of time. We’ll just have to see how many.

In terms of worry about accumulating injuries:

It sucks to see it happen as often as it has here. It seems like every day we have one or two guys falling. Some of them happened before the camp even started. It’s not a good thing, but it happens. It’s part of the game.

There are a lot of teams that go through it. Montreal is in a similar situation with a number of guys who are unavailable. We’re going to get through this and find out on these two guys tonight how much time they’re going to miss.

So far, nothing that’s happened is really long-term. I think we will overcome this. In the meantime, there are plenty of opportunities for guys.

It was another great performance for all of our guys today – the experienced guys who took over, defense with Rielly, Giordano, Mete and Brodie. These guys have taken over. Kerfoot and Jarnkrok came up there when I asked them to leave.

That’s the big lesson for me about the game: the way these guys went, did it, served the team and got the job done. Everyone else had to play further forward, move around and play in different positions. They just kept working. I thought we had a lot of good nights from a lot of people.

Why Jarnkrok and Kerfoot were the ones used in defense in a pinch:

When we lost Dahlstrom and went from five to four, there was a television downtime. There were about four minutes left. I spoke to Gio on the bench and said, ‘Can we skip those four minutes and then we’ll sort things out between periods?’ He was good with it. I think they were fine at that time. We succeeded in the first period.

It gave me some time to think about what I was going to do and how we were going to adjust. With these two players in particular, their skills and the fact that both players have experience playing in the middle… Playing low in the defensive zone is one of the biggest challenges of playing defense as well as defending out of the race. You can’t really do much against the rush, but the defensive zone is part of it both to defend there and to get out of that space.

I thought those guys would help us out there. In terms of general attitude and approach to the game, they are both selfless players. They are there to serve the team and do what they can to help. They didn’t hesitate at all when I told them they had to play defense for me. They went out and did a job.

In this game tonight, I think they are as complete as we are in terms of skills and experience. It made sense. I thought they had done an amazing job.

If he would insert forwards on defense in a regular season game if he only had four defensemen:

I don’t like to answer hypothetical questions, but in this case, I will answer. I think the obvious answer is that I might not put two. But you can’t do two periods with four defenders. That’s a lot to ask. We would definitely throw a striker there and mix it up like what we did tonight.

I guess that’s a positive thing that comes out of it. Now we got two guys, we feel pretty confident [about] and experience it. Like I said to Dean Chynoweth, maybe it’s not that hard after all to play there [laughs].

On Matt Murray and Ilya Samsonov, who have both kept a clean sheet in their 40-minute screenings so far:

It’s early and they’ve only played 40 minutes, but they can only cope with what’s coming their way. For me, they’ve been excellent – ​​from practices with Curtis Sanford, off-ice testing, training and preparation to play in pre-season – and they’ve answered any questions that have arisen. so far. They did a good job.

I thought Murray looked excellent today. It didn’t look like it was his first pre-season game. He looked sharp and focused. The guys played well in front of him, as they did for Samsonov.

I thought it was another good performance in the goalkeeping department today – with Kallgren, too, coming on for the final 20 minutes. He was also lively.

We have everything going on with all these injuries. The goalkeepers have been very solid for us from the start here. Obviously, we want this to continue.

If he remembers anything from Matt Murray’s training as a junior that gives him faith he’ll succeed in Toronto:

I have seen tremendous growth from him. I was hired around Christmas time mid-season in Sault Ste. Mary this season. I finished that season with him, came back and got him for another season. There was a difference in his growth after being really pushed, challenged, and reset. We also changed goalkeeper coaches over the summer that year.

For me, he was a different person and a different athlete in terms of focus, preparation and detail. He was the best goaltender in the OHL that year, in my opinion. He really didn’t look back after that. He went straight to the AHL, dominated, went to the NHL and won the Stanley Cup, and all that.

To answer the question, I have experience with him in that sense. I don’t know how much of a factor that was in this situation, but certainly, given that experience, it’s better than having no experience.

On Nick Roberton’s game and goal:

I thought it was a really good game for Nick today. He gets the goal early. It’s a nice goal on his part. It is really well placed. He doesn’t hesitate and shoots us.

You could tell he was starting to feel it a bit and maybe he was trying to do a little too much there. I talked to him about calming down and getting back to work. But I think it was a very good game from him tonight.

It was a great opportunity for these guys. It doesn’t reflect an NHL game or an NHL roster, but there are NHL players out there and you’re always looking for guys to stand out. Even for AHL guys, you’re playing in an NHL building. You got a big crowd here tonight. Everything is amplified. You are always looking for guys to part ways in this environment.

I thought Nick had a good game today, but I could go all the way. I thought Holmberg was once again really solid. We mentioned Steves. I thought McMann had his best day today. Joey Anderson.

I hate going through the list because it’s a big bunch of guys and I always leave out one or two. This forces us to make difficult decisions. It was really nice to see the progression from where we were a year ago with a lot of these guys to where they are now in their development: pushing and in conversation to make it difficult for us. It is really good. A lot of those guys will be leaving on Friday.

On the team’s power play tonight:

It was not very early; it was a bit slow and stagnant, but it got us a big second-half goal there. There were different times when it started to pick up the pace a bit with the puck. I think the third goal in the third period was a really good power play. We moved it well and performed the things we were trying to do.

At the pre-game ceremony celebrating the anniversary of the Canadian 1972 Summit Series team:

It was exceptional to see these gentlemen standing in the building this evening, proud of their country, their achievements and their heritage. Seeing this here for our organization and our fans – as well as the Montreal Canadiens and the NHL – and giving them this recognition on this day was incredible. I think we can all agree that it was special to be in the building and to share this moment with them.

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