Q. Terry Koshan, Toronto Sun: John Tavares described the team as being more connected tonight, things are coming together that way. To what would you attribute that?
Sheldon Keefe: I definitely agree. I think what I would attribute it to is just time – more time together, more games, more meetings, more discussions as a group. I think we’ve definitely seen progress in a lot of areas. We leave the game feeling good about the effort the guys put in today. At the same time, I’m fairly confident we’re going to have a number of things to discuss tomorrow and where we can continue to get better. That’s obviously very positive. We’re still not where we can be. It’s going to take us a little more time, keep getting a little bit better every day, but to get another win here today and have a good second period like we did to set us up well is very positive. As I said, there’s going to be a number of things that we can look at and discuss as a group tomorrow that will help us next time.
Q. Kevin McGran, Toronto Star: What did you think of Mikko’s debut tonight and what did [seven defencemen and 11 forwards] look like for you tonight?
Sheldon Keefe: Mikko, he didn’t play a lot in the second half of the game. I’d have to go back and watch all his shifts just to see the details and stuff inside of it, but from the bench when he was out there I thought he looked good and looked confident. He skated well, moved well, when the puck came to him he didn’t panic so those were all positive signs. I think today’s a good positive step for him. As for our 7-11, I thought it was fine. At times it felt we were maybe a forward short, you’re feeling the effects of not having a guy and then there’s other times you like it. We were able to get Auston extra shifts with a really favourable matchup at different times, whether it’s John or Will or Mitch, those guys are getting extra shifts down there. There’s pros and cons to it and I think I felt both sides of it here tonight.
Q. Jonas Siegel, The Athletic: Could you get a sense tonight for how the Kerfoot line can open some things up for some of the other lines?
Sheldon Keefe: Yeah, I would say so. That’s the intent behind it is that those guys can give us a really good shift against anybody and give us a chance to rest our top people, yet still have them come over the boards in a favourable position. That’s the way it’s set up. I’ve got to go back and watch it obviously, I think it was Kerfoot-Mikheyev-Simmonds was on the line when we gave up that goal right after we had made it 2-0. That was a tough shift for us there, but as a whole, I think when Kerfoot, Mikheyev and Hyman have been playing together they’ve been giving us real good minutes.
Q. Chris Johnston, Sportsnet: Can you give us an idea of how you used the Saturday when you didn’t dress for that game and how you felt that went in terms of getting ready for this one?
Frederik Andersen: A little new thing we’re trying. I think it was good. I think me and Steve Briere got some good time in, extra time on the ice just to work on a few things that we were talking about the night before. I thought it was good. It’s obviously something new. Got to stay at the hotel for a little bit longer and just come for the game.
Q. Terry Koshan, Toronto Sun: I think Tavares used the word connected to describe the team’s play in front of you tonight. Are you seeing that grow a bit here through the first four games?
Frederik Andersen: Yeah, that’s probably a good way to put it. I think we were good at keeping them to the outside and then, as they turned the puck over after a shot, I thought we were good at breaking out and pushing it down their end and making them defend a little bit more and get them a little bit tired. I thought that we showed simplifying our game a little bit both defensively and just cycling the puck offensively. I thought the guys played well today. That was fun.
Q. Lance Hornby, Toronto Sun: How did it feel out there in your first game?
Mikko Lehtonen: I think it felt good. I was confident and felt good. Good to get the first one done.
Q. Lance Hornby, Toronto Sun: Was anyone watching you back home?
Mikko Lehtonen: Yeah, I think a lot of my friends and family. They were excited to see me play and that was fun. Huge thing for my family, too.
Q. Kevin McGran, Toronto Star: Just wondered what was going through your head while you weren’t playing and how you were practicing?
Mikko Lehtonen: Of course I think everybody wants to play every night, but I wasn’t in the lineup the first three games. I worked hard and stayed positive. What I can focus on is giving my best every day. That’s the thing. When the coaches say, go play, I will play. I came here to play so it’s fun to play.
Q. Mark Masters, TSN: What are you appreciating about what John Tavares has brought to the table early in the season?
Mitch Marner: His work ethic every day has been great. He’s come ready to play and being very competitive, every puck he’s out there against. I mean that’s what you want out of your leaders. You want them to show and be an example for everyone else and he’s done a great example of everyone else.
Q. Mark Masters, TSN: This rivalry seems to be bubbling nicely. I’m not sure what Pionk was trying to do there at the end and then Scheifele was quite upset with you it seemed. What was your perspective on that final sequence?
Mitch Marner: Who cares, we won the game. That’s all that matters, that’s all I care about.
Q. Josh Clipperton, The Canadian Press: You guys were dominant in the second period, what was working so well for your group?
Mitch Marner: Speed, breaking out of our zone quickly, finding easy exits. I think we were really communicating and also controlling the puck in the O-zone. I feel like a lot of times when they were exiting they were pretty fatigued so they couldn’t really forecheck our D too much and we were going right back into them. That’s something we’ve talked about wanting to get better at every game. I thought tonight in the second period we really took over and did that well. It’s just something we’ve got to keep doing.
Q. Mark Masters, TSN: It seemed like you guys found another gear, especially in that second period. What did you like most about the win tonight?
John Tavares: Yeah, I think we’re just starting to build some good habits over the last couple of games and just staying with it. Obviously, we didn’t love giving up the goal at the end of the period, but we faced some adversity here with how well we played in the second and we fought hard to get the two goal lead. Good job in the third still being able to create some opportunities, being aggressive on the forecheck and making them really have to work to get up the ice and then create chances on the penalty kill was great tonight but a lot of good stuff especially with amount of opportunities that they had. Good hard fought win.
Q. Mark Masters, TSN: The power play also seemed to have a dominant stretch there obviously with a lot of chances before the goal. What was your sense in the lead up to the goal about the momentum that was building?
John Tavares: Well we’re just sticking to what team’s are giving us and we’re just trying to execute the framework that we’re playing off of and the structure that we have and just taking what’s there. And obviously when you create opportunities and you’re able to retrieve pucks and break them down and get them tired, those open looks start to come and being able to draw people in and Willy made a great play, really selling the shot and I had the easy job of just firing it in.
Q. Kevin McGran, Toronto Star: You’re off to a terrific start production wise. What do you attribute that to?
John Tavares: Well I’m just trying to play my game. I know it’s been part of what’s helped me get to this point in my career, just continuing to find ways to be productive and consistent. The power play’s doing a really good job. Every game 5-on-5 continues to build a little bit better so just trying to build on that and find different ways to create opportunities and produce.