Q. Terry Koshan, Toronto Sun: What’s your assessment of the game tonight and having to battle from an early hole like you did and not come all the way back? What did you see overall from the group tonight?
Sheldon Keefe: Like you said, we get ourselves in a hole early. It’s a tough game to be playing from behind. We’ve been doing that too much lately. I thought we had parts of our game where we played well and had lots of pressure, did a lot of good things, but obviously our start and the hole we dug ourselves there, how we responded after getting down 1-0 off that faceoff, those are the kind of things that end up being the difference. Overall, Ottawa was better tonight. They were better at 5-on-5, they were better on special teams, they were better in goal. They deserved the result.
Q. Terry Koshan, Toronto Sun: I know a concern level can vary after losses depending on how the games are lost, but where is it for you right now considering you’ve had a couple efforts that weren’t great in back-to-back nights and now that it’s five of six? Is it a high concern level, is it low, is it medium? What is it for you?
Sheldon Keefe: I don’t know. I don’t concern myself with those types of thoughts. We’ve got an opportunity here now to get some rest and some practice time. Obviously, it falls at the appropriate time in the schedule for us with what we’re going through here. It gives us a chance to get back to work.
Q. Kevin McGran, Toronto Star: I remember you guys using the same sort of tactic in pulling the goalie in the bubble against Columbus and loading up with your big guys despite there being five, six minutes left. That whole idea of doing that, can you talk about the genesis of that idea and, obviously you don’t want to be in that position to use it, but how much confidence do you have in your guys to give them the man advantage like that?
Sheldon Keefe: I have great confidence in our guys. We’ve had a lot of success with it even this season. It’s just really kind of reacting to what’s happening in the game. I felt like it’s a three-goal deficit, lots of time left in the sense there’s six minutes, six-plus minutes I think it was. If we didn’t get one soon it would be probably insurmountable to come back. I felt we needed one. All of our top guys were fresh at that point in time coming out of a TV timeout. It was an offensive zone faceoff so it just made a lot of sense for us to go with that and try to see if we could get one and, if we could, then it would change the remaining time significantly. If we let time continue to wind down without getting anything to fall for us, just the energy and emotion of our bench alone would have been too much to overcome. We had to get something going at that point in time. It just fell into place in terms of the guys being rested and timeout and we still had another TV timeout to come on top of that. I felt pretty good about being able to ride those guys.
Q. Mark Masters, TSN: Were you surprised the Mikheyev goal came off the board or going into that challenge were you thinking it might be going that way?
Sheldon Keefe: Yeah, I found it just to be one of those ones that’s kind of grey and you don’t know which way it’s going to go. I had a pretty good sense that it was going to be challenged. I think we would have done the same thing if we were in that situation and then it’s just up to the people upstairs or wherever they’re making the call. Like I said, we’ve seen enough of those and studied enough of those situations that we had a pretty good sense that it could go either way, but I wasn’t surprised they challenged it, especially with the three goal lead.
Q. Mark Masters, TSN: The rest, obviously, will be really valuable. Is there areas of emphasis that you’ve already identified that you’re going to want to focus on when you back on the ice with the guys though?
Sheldon Keefe: Yes, there is for sure, yeah.
Q. Lance Hornby, Toronto Sun: Do you feel the defence hasn’t been as sharp as a whole lately in terms of some mental errors and not breaking out as crisply and helping out the offence as you were earlier this season?
TJ Brodie: Yeah, definitely. The last couple games you noticed it. It’s definitely something that we want to clean up going forward. I think that’s what we’ll do the next couple days is try to work on that.
Q. Lance Hornby, Toronto Sun: How valuable will this rest be? Guys who have played a lot, maybe it’s showing the last couple games.
TJ Brodie: It’s been a busy season so far. Any time you can get a chance to recoup and recover is big.
Q. Mark Zwolinski, Toronto Star: Obviously, again not the result you wanted and maybe not the start you wanted either. Defensively, do you think the team has slipped a little bit there or is it just a momentary thing?
Zach Hyman: Obviously, we haven’t been able to put some wins together. We’ve lost more than we’ve won the past week. We’ve had defensive breakdowns. I think against Winnipeg a lot of it was just one mistake and they come down and they’re such a good offensive team they’re able to score quickly. Then here tonight we gave them a couple of odd man rushes and they got a PK one. Our PK needs to be better. I think that anytime you’re losing you want to shore up your defensive game because they’re scoring more than you are.
Q. Lance Hornby, Toronto Sun: At the end of the practice week hopefully you get some people back from injury. How big is that going to be to get a couple of familiar names back on the roster?
Zach Hyman: Simmer’s been itching to get back. He is a huge part of our team and brings so much energy and grit and can score and play in the dirty areas. We’re excited to get him hopefully soon. And then obviously with Soup. I think we have tremendous depth and Soupy’s been playing extremely well. He had that injury so hopefully he’s back at it. We have an extremely deep team and I think that we’ll have guys coming back who are going to help our team and only make our team better. We’re excited. I don’t know the timeline on when they’ll be back, but I know we have two games here in a longer period than usual so we have a lot of rest and it’ll be good to regroup as a group and take a couple of days here and reassess. It’s right around the halfway mark, I think we’re just over the halfway mark, which is a great time to evaluate things and grow and get better.
Q. Mark Masters, TSN: Obviously, it’s a been busy schedule for you guys the last little bit. Did you sense the fatigue catch up to you or what was your sense of tonight’s game?
Mitch Marner: I thought we were doing things we wanted to. I thought we were doing a good job of staying above them. When we were getting our shifts down low we were really moving the puck well, spacing them out, getting guys to the net, getting second opportunities. It was just a couple didn’t fall. That’s what happens. We’ve got a couple days now to rest, get ourselves ready and be ready to finish out the season.
Q. Mark Masters, TSN: Were you surprised Ilya’s goal ended up being disallowed?
Mitch Marner: A little bit, but at the same time that’s up to the refs to decide that. From our angle it looked like there was a battle between Gudbranson and Pierre and then Pierre got whoever that was in front. I thought we did a good job of sticking with it, not letting that get us down. Obviously, we just came short there at the end.
Q. Mark Masters, TSN: Obviously, not easy when you fall behind on back-to-backs. What did you see as the difference tonight?
Auston Matthews: I think we just had a really poor start. They were able to score a couple early and we were chasing the game the rest of the time. I just think we didn’t really come out very well to start the game and they were obviously ready to go. They scored two quick and we had to dig ourselves out of that hole.
Q. Mark Masters, TSN: You guys have a bit of a break now. What are going to be the points of emphasis so you guys get back on track when you come out of it?
Auston Matthews: I don’t know. I think we’ve been playing a lot of hockey lately. I think it will just be nice to reset and regroup as a team and have a couple days to just regroup. We’ve been playing a lot of games. I think it’s important for us to have a short memory, but obviously with this four or five day break now we’ve got to sit with this one. I think there’s plenty that we can take from here and move forward and use this week to rest and recover and get ready for the following.