RANGERS 5, LEAFS 4 (OT). QUOTES: “I think we’re proud of the way we battled back. Obviously, it would have been nice to finish it off, but I don’t think in any intermission or just coming into the third, we were never discouraged or anything. With the way both these teams play, high powered offences. You’re going to get your chances and we battled back.” –AUSTON MATTHEWS.


On if his appreciation for the team’s resilience in last night’s game carries over to tonight: Yeah, I think so. Today is even more challenging, obviously. The back-to-back and we’ve really leaned very heavily on our top guys. On the back-to-back, to do it two days in a row like this coming out of the break, it’s a little bit tougher. But you’re obviously very happy that we were able to do that. That’s a big point for us coming from behind like that.

On how he evaluates how often to play the top lines during a game: In game like that I’m more just going off their body language. Over time you get pretty comfortable with how they look on the bench and when they’re ready for their next shift. Maybe something was just in my own head just with the back-to-back and everything. I kind of lost our fourth line there in the second period and we weren’t getting extra shifts from them. The Rangers weren’t using their fourth line very much either. So, I made it a little bit tougher, plus we’re playing from behind, so you’ll be leaning on those guys. I felt it was important to get more shifts from our depth guys in the third period and I thought it helped us get a little extra rest and a little extra push there. But playing from behind is tough. We haven’t done that very much as a team here of late, but we’ve had to here now three games in a row. That’s not a good recipe for us, not a good recipe for anybody. So, then you get a chance to talk about resilience or to be resilient, we’re able to do that today, but obviously we’d like to flip this trend here and get back to playing with the lead.

On the performance of the blueline with the absence of Muzzin: I thought it was fine. We missed Muzz greatly, don’t get me wrong, in more than just what he does on the ice for us. He has a lot of intangibles that he brings to the locker room and to the bench. Talking between whistles and all those types of things. His presence means a lot to our team, so we missed him greatly, but I thought Marincin did well, filled in well. I don’t think any of our issues that we had in the game today were the result of that.

On if he was concerned when Marner was hit in the head with the puck: Yeah, of course, those are dangerous plays. Anytime the puck comes high like that on anybody, it’s tough. Luckily, we were able to – to get him stitched up and sent back out of there was touch and go there for a bit. They weren’t sure if he was going to come back but he not only came back, I think he pretty much sprinted onto the bench and was ready to go. We put him back out there right away and he was excellent.

On why he decided to start the game with Engvall at centre: I’m very comfortable with Pierre as a centre. I have been in my time with the Marlies. We converted him – I’m not sure exactly when it was but it was January or February of last season. We put him at centre for the first time, and he did an excellent job for us there all the way through the playoffs. Then he’s only played centre with the Marlies this season. He hadn’t played, I don’t think, one shift of wing before coming here. When he’s in there as a centre I’m
comfortable with him. I obviously changed it pretty quickly there just because I didn’t like how that line was going early, it didn’t go the way I thought it would. I thought I had to just kind of change that chemistry, they were minus-2 early, so I had to change it up. It has nothing to do with how I feel about Pierre’s ability to play centre, I think he’s good there.


On the challenge of the Rangers offence: They’re a quick strike offense. They have skilled players.

On the resilience of the group to battle back from behind in recent games: It’s been great. I think, like you said, we keep battling back. Those are big points. And again, another big point tonight.

On the team fighting to get points despite injuries: Of course, we’re missing some good players right now. But, again, we’ve got to play with what we have. I think the guys have been doing a hell of a job doing that. So I think tonight was a good point, but obviously never satisfied with that.


On playing in his first NHL game tonight: Obviously, it was a crazy 24 hours for me. You never want to see somebody go down – a couple of guys that I’m friends with and developed relationships with over a couple of years. You don’t like to see them out, but, you know, it was definitely cool to get this opportunity and to play here Saturday night. My parents were here, it was a great opportunity. Obviously, a day I’ll always remember.

On when his family arrived for the game: They came this morning. They were able to find a flight [from Winnipeg]. I think they left at like 6:30 or something early but it was nice that they’re able to get out.


On the game never seeming to be out of reach: I think we’re proud of the way we battled back. Obviously, it would have been nice to finish it off, but I don’t think in any intermission or just coming into the third, we were never discouraged or anything. With the way both these teams play, high powered offences. You’re going to get your chances and we battled back.

On what the team will miss with Muzzin being out with an injury: I mean, everything. I little bit of leadership – well, a lot of leadership, a lot of physicality. He’s a guy that obviously has experience, he’s won a Cup, he holds guys accountable in the locker room. We’re going to miss him quite a bit but it’s a time for an opportunity for other guys to step up in the lineup.


On the recent win streak coming to an end but still grabbing a point tonight:
I mean points are one thing, but I think there are obviously areas of improvement for us when you look at the games. I mean, you take what you can. We’ve got a day off tomorrow and a chance to regroup after the break and after the back-to-back so it’s important we take advantage of that.

On where the team can improve now that they are out of the Christmas break: Lots of areas, I think that’s for us to discuss. We’re halfway in or just about anyways so a chance to get better here. We’ve got lots of hockey left and it’s important we realize the opportunity.

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