Q. (Lance Hornby, Toronto Sun): Sheldon, how concerned were you about your offence tonight or was it just a case of Columbus doing what it does best?
SHELDON KEEFE: I think it’s both. Obviously, they did what they do best and what we were prepared for. We knew it was going to be difficult. Now we go out on the ice and you feel it. Obviously, we didn’t get one to fall for us here today. I thought we did have some chances to get more than what we got on the scoreboard, but it didn’t fall in for us, it fell in for them. That’s the difference.
Q. (Steve Simmons, Toronto Sun): How difficult is it when you’re putting Auston out there as much as possible and they’re matching with Jones as much as possible and there you have two of the great players in the NHL going up against each other?
SHELDON KEEFE: It’s a tough matchup. We can’t forget Werenski in that equation also because he’s a great player, and their forwards. They play as a group of five so no matter who is on the ice it’s going to be hard. This is all stuff that we were prepared for coming in. As I said, now we’re on the ice and you feel it. We didn’t generate as much as I wish we could have. At the same, as I said, it’s a very tight hockey game out there. One falls in for them early in the third period after we had what I thought was a pretty dominant start to the third and thought we were going to be rolling pretty good. All of a sudden, you’re down and it changes the nature of the game from there. Obviously we’ve got to find a way to score.
Q. (Bruce Arthur, Toronto Star): This obviously was the team you expected, the game you expected. Is there anything about this game that makes you worry about the way your team matches up against Columbus going forward or could you see places where the Leafs can handle this matchup better?
SHELDON KEEFE: Well, I think there’s going to be ways. We’re going to look closer at it and we’ll find ways that we can capitalize a little bit more on some of our opportunities and generate a little bit more. As I said, it’s a very tight game, it’s a good hockey team. It’s two teams that were tight together in the standings, two teams that are very competitive. I thought we played a good enough game to win today, but obviously you can’t win when you don’t score. We’ve got to work with that, but there’s a lot of things that we did do well in the game here today that gave us a chance going into the third period to win the hockey game. We’re going to have to regroup here obviously and push back and get one to go our way next time.
Q. (Chris Johnston, Sportsnet): I’m just wondering what your thoughts were on Freddie’s performance. Made some big saves but he wasn’t happy with the goal that beat him.
SHELDON KEEFE: I thought he did make some big saves, for sure. There was a few times they had some real quality looks. He was very good on those and there was some perimeter chances down the wing and stuff like that that he did a really good job of holding his ground on. Obviously, he misread the one in the third there that got by him, but he kept them to one goal. He, as far as I’m concerned, did his job. We’ve got to find a way to give him some help.
Q. (Justin Cuthbert, Yahoo Sports): It seemed Mitch Marner and John Tavares had trouble getting going tonight. What challenges did you see in front of them and what needs to happen for them to get going in the rest of the series?
SHELDON KEEFE: I thought they had a pretty good first period, actually. They had some pretty good offensive zone shifts and were around the net a little bit. They didn’t really get a chance to build upon that so we’ll have to look at it a little bit closer. Obviously, that’s another part of it is they’ve got a tough matchup there too, right? Gavrikov and Savard are tough defenders just the same as we’ve already talked about the other two. It’s a tough matchup for them, we need to get a little bit more from them but we need more from everybody obviously. We didn’t get anything from anyone today, we only generated one power play. All those types of things make it harder than it needs to be, but we expected it to be hard, we expected it to be uncomfortable. I thought this one today could have gone either way. It didn’t go our way so we’ve got to regroup here and find a way to be better next time out.
Q. (Kevin McGran, Toronto Star): Just a couple of words if you could on your third and fourth lines. Start with Nick Robertson, what you thought of a teenager playing in his first game tonight, and then also your decision to limit the Gauthier line, I guess obviously looking for offence there.
SHELDON KEEFE: First, I thought Robbie had some good moments in the game. In fact, he had a great look early in the hockey game, just got the toe of the goaltender there and obviously that was a big moment that could have put us in a real good spot. It was good to see him get into that position, available to get the shot. Otherwise, I thought he was good in a game that was difficult to play. That would be, by far, the hardest game he’s ever played in, I would imagine. He’s going to have to continue to find his way through that. I thought that Kerfoot and Kappy again, I thought those guys had legs and they were on the puck and gave us some pretty good shifts as a line. As for our fourth line, I thought they had a real tough start to the game, some long sequences in our own zone, just not what you want out of your fourth line. It made it difficult to really find any sort of rhythm with them and then, of course, once we’re down early in the third period, it becomes even harder.
AUSTON MATTHEWS & MORGAN RIELLY
Q. (Lance Hornby, Toronto Sun): What happened to you offensively tonight? What do you have to do in game two?
MORGAN RIELLY: I don’t know. I think we’ve got to look at it. I think that there were chances that we generated, obviously not capitalizing on any, but I think there are good things you have to look at and areas we have to improve on and we’ll do that tomorrow at practice.
Q. (Steve Simmons, Toronto Sun): It’s one thing to hear about how tight they play and to even watch the film of how tight they play. What was it like to experience it?
AUSTON MATTHEWS: Well, first of all, it’s unfortunate that I’m getting a question from you at this point, Steve. I just wanted to say I didn’t really appreciate the article you wrote about me a couple months ago. It was a bit unethical, to be honest. Moving along, I thought they obviously play a really structured defence and they make it hard on you to get on the inside. I think we’ve just got to do a better job of maybe shooting more pucks and have guys coming down on it.
Q. (Chris Johnston, Sportsnet): Was there anything that surprised you that they did or was it kind of what you guys were expecting?
AUSTON MATTHEWS: I don’t think anything really surprised us. They play a pretty straightforward and you know what you’re going to expect every night. They’re going to compete, they’re going to play physical. I thought we did some good things, there are some things we can clean up. Obviously, we’ve got to create more offence, get guys more on the inside and capitalize on some opportunities. Their goalie made some good saves as well.
Q. (Jonas Siegel, The Athletic): Auston, what’s it like to face somebody as big and who can move like Seth Jones, shift after shift?
AUSTON MATTHEWS: They’re good players. They’re good on both sides of the puck. We’ve got to be aware when they’re out there and obviously try to be strong down low, physical on the offensive side as well as the defensive side.
FREDERIK ANDERSEN & ZACH HYMAN
Q. (Josh Clipperton, The Canadian Press): How frustrating is it to play against that team, their style?
ZACH HYMAN: They play playoff hockey, this is playoff hockey. I thought we had our chances, we just couldn’t capitalize. You’re not going to win any games if you don’t score any goals. They got one and we couldn’t get on the board.
Q. (Bruce Arthur, Toronto Star): Freddie, if you could just take us through what you saw on that goal and how it went for you?
FREDERIK ANDERSEN: I saw him coming down the wing and his initial release looked to be a little bit higher. I reacted up and obviously made a little mistake. It cost us a goal and eventually the game, unfortunately. That’s what I saw.
Q. (Jonas Siegel, The Athletic): Zach, what kind of challenges does Seth Jones present?
ZACH HYMAN: He’s obviously an elite defenceman. He’s big and strong, he can skate. He plays well on the defensive side and the offensive side. Just trying to make his life and just out there and battle against him.