Q. Terry Koshan, Toronto Sun: Sheldon, if you wouldn’t mind just an update if you have one on Travis to start.
Sheldon Keefe: Yeah, I think it looks like it’s pretty minor. It was just a charley horse. Just something that he kept waiting and waiting to see if it was just going to go away, try to get it moving. It just didn’t settle down enough here for tonight, but we’re not expecting it to be anything too major. We’ll see how he is at practice tomorrow and make a plan from there.
Q. Terry Koshan, Toronto Sun: The fourth line, just what Petan did on the line, did you see enough to keep him in for another game and the way he worked with Boyd and Spezza tonight?
Sheldon Keefe: I thought those guys had a lot of jump today. They had the puck a lot, made great plays with it, Petan, in particular, seemed really confident for a guy who hasn’t played a game in a really long time. I thought he looked really comfortable, brought a lot to the group. Boyd and Spezza were very good. Obviously, Spezz had a terrific night here tonight and we’re happy for him. But, yeah, I thought the line was really good.
Q. Josh Clipperton, The Canadian Press: Can you put into words what Jason means to your group? Not so much tonight, but just in general?
Sheldon Keefe: Yeah, I think we’ve talked about it a lot, but like a night like this, it’s a good opportunity to revisit it. With his experience and his voice and his personality, it brings a lot to our room. We feel like we’ve added a lot to that department. I think having Spezz last season just showed us how valuable that is and we felt we could add to that, and I think we did.
Just the work that he’s put in all through the offseason to get himself ready to play and to push others to be ready and help our younger guys. And I guess another example, at his age and where we’re at in the season, he comes and he skates on one of our skill development days this week instead of taking the off day, which, even though he hasn’t played a great deal, nobody would have blamed him for taking the off day.
He comes in and he works with the skills coaches. Some of the guys were giving it to him a little bit, they thought that the hat trick goal looked a lot like some of the drills he was doing with the skills development staff, with our player development staff here this week. It’s great to see him get rewarded for that and the guys were really happy for him.
Q: Bob McGill, Leafs Nation Network: You watch practice and you see the hard work that the guys are putting in over the last couple of days, but I also hear the sounds of the fun that they’re having. You put both of those together and I think it helps in results that you get here tonight, do you think?
Sheldon Keefe: I do think that, Bob. We’ve been having success as a team so the guys are feeling good and they’re coming off a couple days off, they’re together again in practice. We’ve got lots of reasons to be positive, whether it’s the success of our team that we’ve had to date here and the wins we’ve put together, or just the fact that we get to play hockey and come together as a group. We’re grateful for that opportunity. The guys love being at the rink and being around each other.
Right from day one of camp there has been a real good vibe around our club and that continues to grow. A night like this just adds to it. We’ve got to get a sleep in here today and come to the rink again tomorrow and do it again. Come with great spirit, put our work in on the ice and the games won’t stop here. They’re going to come quickly and we’ve got to build upon it and not look back.
Q: Lance Hornby, Toronto Sun: It’s early, of course, you’ve now seen everyone in the division and have at least one win against everyone in the division. Significance of that? Again, it is early, but it’s got to make you feel good.
Sheldon Keefe: Well sure, like I said we’ve been able to get good results to this point and, like you said, we’ve seen everybody. The greatest challenge though throughout this whole schedule is to beat the same team in back-to-back games. In our case we’re going to play Vancouver three times, but we get the edge here today and they’re going to regroup and they’re going to make adjustments and we’re going to have to do the same.
We’re going to have to continue to get better and that’s the greatest challenge. We were able to do that against Calgary, we weren’t able to do that either time against Edmonton. We’ve got to find a way to bounce back and build upon this here because the reason why it’s so difficult is because the other team doesn’t feel good about what happened in the first game and they seek to get better and it’s important for us to not take our foot off the gas. It starts with practice tomorrow.
Q: Mark Masters, TSN: What did you appreciate about Jason Spezza’s performance tonight?
Mitch Marner: I think everything. That’s vintage Spezza right there. Some of those shots and goals and moves he’s making, it’s vintage. I think anyone is happy for that guy whenever he does well and it’s a big game by him tonight. It’s a big one for our team as well for the start of the three games here against this team. It’s something everyone can feel good about.
Q: Mark Masters, TSN: On Auston’s second goal, was he calling for it or is that just an example of your chemistry with him?
Mitch Marner: I think a little bit of both. I know him and Hyman are always going to that short side post and tried to just get it out to him and it was a nice little chip shot by him.
Q. Chris Johnston, Sportsnet: Did you feel you guys benefitted from the time off since the last game and were able to generate a bit more offensively as a team?
Mitch Marner: Yeah, obviously four days off always helps a team. It gets you rested. It gets you everything you need. I think it was good for our team. I think we came out with the popand jump we needed and got off to a great start. We played a pretty good 60 for most of it and it’s something we talked about we wanted to be more consistent with. I think everyone is happy leaving the rink tonight, but we know we play these guys again in two days. We’ve got to make sure we’re ready for that.
Q. Lance Hornby, Toronto Sun: What does Jason Spezza mean to this team and did you ever think that tonight you’d have to get a hat trick to keep pace with him?
Auston Matthews: He means a lot to this team. I think more than anybody knows. That was fun to watch tonight. That was vintage Jason Spezza. He put on a show. He deserves it. He works so hard every day. At this stage in his career, the dedication that he pours into his own game and into the team, it’s pretty incredible. To see a guy like him tonight get rewarded and put on a show like he did, that was pretty incredible.
Q. Kevin McGran, Toronto Star: What was the practice like preparing for these guys and what does it mean to face them three games in a row?
Auston Matthews: Just go through the regular pre-scout, go over a couple of things on their structure and on their play. I think the biggest part of it is on focusing on our own game and our own structure and making sure we’re playing with enough speed. I think coming off of the four day break, we came out and had a really good start, really good legs throughout the whole game so that’s always a positive, especially after you have those three, four days off.
Q. Josh Clipperton, Canadian Press: What was it like today with some of the new changes, the hour and 45 minutes, you guys are creatures of habit, no glass behind the bench – was it strange in any way?
Auston Matthews: I don’t think a lot of guys love the late get to the rink an hour and 45 before but it’s an unprecedented year so you’ve got to go with the flow. There’s going to be adjustments, there’s going to be stuff, roadblocks that get thrown in your way, I just think it’s all about adjusting and going with the flow.
Q. Kevin McGran, Toronto Star: How did it feel tonight, not just to play after a long layoff but to really contribute big fourth line minutes tonight?
Nic Petan: It felt good. Obviously, like you said, long time off. I think it’s like 11 months for me. It was just nice to be back out there and we played great, had a lot of speed, chipped pucks in, got pucks back and played well.
Q. Kevin McGran, Toronto Star: How have you stayed active through that layoff?
Nic Petan: Just the normal stuff, going to the rink, staying positive, getting workouts in. That type of stuff.
Q. Bob McGill, Leafs Nation Network: Getting an opportunity here tonight and your line making that impact, playing with a guy like Jason Spezza also and your line was pretty significant in the victory, that has to feel pretty good.
Nic Petan: He’s an easy guy to find. It’s nice playing with him. Obviously, he’s got the shot and he showed it tonight. It’s always a pleasure playing with him.
Q. Chris Johnston, Sportsnet: What did you find was the biggest challenge in going so long between games?
Nic Petan: It’s a tough question. The pandemic’s huge, you can’t really expect that. Again just trying to stay positive, wait my turn and when it comes just be ready.
Q. Lance Hornby, Toronto Sun: Jason, how did it feel to have a night like that given your role here with the team? And did anyone give you a hat afterwards in the dressing room since there was nobody in the stands to throw any?
Jason Spezza: No hats, but I got a bit of a water shower walking in the room. The guys got me good. But yeah, obviously, nice night, puck was following me. I haven’t had too many of those nights the last couple years so it’s obviously nice to get.
Q. Mark Masters, TSN: Auston and Mitch were just saying how much they’ve appreciated what you’ve brought to the table, your mentorship. What has it been like being around those two guys? How have they maybe given you some extra energy as well?
Jason Spezza: Yeah, I think the excitement and passion they have for the game rejuvenates the whole room. When you see your top guys at work like that, it makes everybody want to be better. They’re fun guys to be around. I’ve seen a lot of growth in their games over the time that I’ve been here in the last year, and we hope to keep going.
Q. Kevin McGran, Toronto Star: Jason, for a guy that loves to be around the rink as much as you do what did you think of the new protocols where you couldn’t show up until an hour 45 before?
Jason Spezza: Yeah, I get here pretty early so the guys are giving me a hard time. Maybe I’ve been doing it wrong all these years. You roll with the punches. We talked about it at the start of the year, though, how there’s going to be changes, there’s going to be adapting. I thought it didn’t faze us today, we came out, we had a good start. When they change protocols it definitely keeps you guessing a little bit, but we adapted well to it.