WHAT THE MAPLE LEAFS SAID POSTGAME: “Obviously, we want to play a lot better, a lot more consistent. We’ve got to keep working to find a way. At times it feels like it’s going against us and that’s just the nature of it.” –JOHN TAVARES.


On tonight’s game:

Well, I don’t like that it was 5-4. I really liked our start, I thought we had an outstanding start and played really well. The period was over, we were down 2-0. I thought we crawled our way back and had a really good second period; gave up very, very little. In the end, we gave up the goal at the end of that and then I thought in the third period we weren’t as good as we needed to be in order to have success and crawl our way back. It’s a one-goal game at the end, but the way – I would have liked it better at 3-2, to be honest with you. We’ve got to do a better job. Tonight the special teams battle is 2-0 for them and, so, you can’t win enough games losing the special teams battle so we’ve got to do a better job in that area, for sure. I really liked the start of our game, I liked our energy, I liked our execution, I liked how much time we played in the O-zone. I thought Tavares’ line played in the O-zone more than they’ve played all year, that was good for us.

On Muzzin saying weird lapses led to goals:

When you go through it, the first one we had total control of the puck, managed to turn it over twice, it goes in our net. The third one – the penalty came after a turnover – and then the third one was one of those ones that, to me, it was a simple play for us and we didn’t make it. The bottom line is we’re through 20 games now and, when you evaluate what we’ve done in 20 games, we don’t like it as a group. We think we can be better and we’ll identify the areas again here tomorrow as we go through it and grind our way out of this. We got ourselves in the spot we’re in, we’ve got to grind our way out of it.

On if the team seems frustrated through 20 games:

I don’t think that’s been the case at all. I thought we’ve had good energy and I think we’ve done lots of really good things. In saying that, tonight after the first period, after the second period, you feel you’ve played really well and should be ahead in the game. You’re not ahead in the game. Just stay the course, stay patient, take care of the puck and, if you do good things in life, good things happen.

On Hyman’s return to the lineup:

Like I said to you, I thought Tavares’ line played – I don’t know how many heavy shifts they had, but they had a lot. They spent a lot of time in the offensive zone. I didn’t – I said it yesterday, I had no idea what to expect, I really didn’t. I didn’t know he could be out that long and still come with that energy. Maybe there’s going to be a drop, I don’t know that, but I thought he did a good job in all areas of the game.


On his first game back since off-season surgery:

Felt good, felt strong. I didn’t worry about my knee which was good. Thought I just went out there and tried to play my game and just kind of pick up where I left off, which was six months ago. It’s a long time but I felt good.

On how the team can improve the penalty kill:

We’ve just got to find confidence. We’ve got to string some kills together. The bounces just aren’t going our way right now. I think if we get back on track, we’ll string a run together. That’s what good PKs do, they get on a roll and they find their confidence and it feels like you don’t get scored on ever. So, we’ll get that fixed and come back strong.


On back-to-back one goal losses:

I think we have confidence in this group, in the team and in this room. We’re just having some weird lapses in the game and it’s costing us. I think we just have to be sharper throughout a full 60, shift-to-shift, more focus, better preparation I think and we’ll come out on top in these games.

On where the team can make improvements on the penalty kill:

I don’t know. I mean we’ve got to look at the stuff, I haven’t looked at it. I don’t even know how many penalties we took tonight, how many did we take tonight? [Three] So, that’s better, but we let two goals in, so that’s not good. We’ve got to look at some stuff and clean it up.


On tonight’s performance:

I think we played a good game for the most part. We’ve just got to sharpen up on a few things to not let them score goals.

On what prevented the power play from having success:

I think the one where we had a faceoff in the D-zone and they jumped us, we’ve got to be ready there. I mean, we’ve got to be more determined like we were in the last couple of minutes of the game.


On going down early and not being able to finish the comeback:

It feels like when we do make a mistake it seems to really hurt us. Because I thought, especially in the first period, we had a pretty good first period until they got their first goal and then they capitalize on the power play and got the momentum. We played really well again in the second, didn’t come out the greatest in the third and, you know, they got another power play goal so special teams really hurt us today. It just seems like when we do make a mistake we’re getting burned. I think parts of this game we did a lot of good things. We tried to stay patient, stayed with it, got ourselves back in it, but just too many mistakes leading to too many against.

On where he sees the team after 20 games into the season:

Well, I just think we’re not where we want to be. Obviously, we want to play a lot better, a lot more consistent. We’ve got to keep working to find a way. At times it feels like it’s going against us and that’s just the nature of it. Sometimes it’s the way hockey goes, the way the game goes and you’ve just got to mentally stick with it and keep playing and keep trying to find a way to turn the tide and consistently up your level and up your consistency and get things snow balling in the right direction. We’ve had that for points in the year but we haven’t really been able to sustain it as long as we’ve liked. Obviously, something we need to continue to do and the results are obviously critical. We’ve done good things but we know we’ve got to get the job done. 

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