HEAD COACH SHELDON KEEFE
On what the process is for a team getting its confidence back:
Well it looks like the process that we want to go through is to just get embarrassed enough to the point where we just really look in the mirror and recognize what’s required for us to be able to compete at a high level at this stage of the season.
On if he is bewildered with recent performances:
Yeah, I am. It’s a different issue again today. We’ve talked about that. It’s been a little bit different each night. So if you had special teams on your bingo card of things that are hurting our group, then you’re happy today and get that one filled. But I think, ultimately, as we look at the different things, whether it’s giving up leads in the third period a couple weeks ago or getting scored on early on home ice or today special teams or what have you, I think the common denominator is just that the overall urgency and competitiveness of the group — I mean, special teams are the issue today, but we get a power play early in the game, we get a chance to take a hold of the game on the road against a very good team and we’re just not there. They’re just competing at a higher level than we are and then they get their chance and they just make it pretty clear what the difference is.
On if the team relies too much on skill rather than hard work:
It’s an easy narrative to latch on to. I don’t think we were relying on our skill or our talent or our work ethic at all today. But it’s not just today, and it’s not everyone either. Some guys are there consistently. You see the difference between a team that’s good some days and not so good others and a team that’s good all the time, no matter who’s in the lineup and you see that in the game tonight, the difference between them and us. They just work and when you do that, then the skilled players are having the puck a lot more and good things are happening and all that kind of stuff. We have to make a decision here what we want to be as a team because we’re going to run out of games.
On how the group finds urgency:
It’s a good question. I think it’s a decision to be made, obviously I have a role to be played in it in terms of demanding it from the group, in terms of accountability amongst the group, all those kinds of things. I think what’s happening here is as the injuries have piled up and as the schedule has gotten harder and the League has gotten harder, the time of the year and how desperate and urgent things are, more and more issues are coming up with our group in terms of some of our habits and details that are lacking and that’s where our team really has to grow. The skill is there, the other part of it has to be there. Without that foundation you don’t have a chance.
FREDERIK ANDERSEN (19 SAVES)
On the difference on special teams tonight:
I mean that’s a big part of the game. I think they capitalized on their chances, we didn’t and that’s usually when a team wins that category that bad, usually they come out with a win.
On his level of concern with the team’s recent performances:
It’s not been good. I think today was good lesson in seeing a team that’s built championship teams and they haven’t really missed a step. Every time they’ve had a guy hurt, they have another guy coming in and playing their bag off with their effort and their detail. Something we can learn from and hopefully we can, like I said, use it and learn from it, but we better do it quick.
AUSTON MATTHEWS (1 GOAL)
On if special teams told the story tonight:
Just early we had a power play and they were pretty quick and obviously still sleeping and then they get their power plays and they capitalize on pretty much all of them and that’s pretty much the story of the night. We just weren’t good from the start.
On his level of concern and wanting to turn things around:
I mean, it’s frustrating. We don’t think we’ve played this poorly since the last time we were in this building a few months ago. It’s obviously frustrating, but I mean we’ve got 20 plus games left obviously, we need to have more urgency in our game. We’re running out of time and have to start playing some good hockey here and really figure it out within this locker room going forward because obviously you only have a certain amount of games left and we’ve got a pretty tough schedule here coming up.
JAKE MUZZIN (1 ASSIST)
On what the team needs to do to move forward:
Well, everyone’s got to take a look in the mirror, and we’ve got to be better. That’s unacceptable. We’ve got to find the urgency, the passion, the love of the game, the love to compete for each other. All of that needs to come. I don’t know why it’s not there. I think sometimes we, like I’ve touched on earlier, when we struggle, we want the easy game. When you play good teams it’s not going to be easy.
On what a hard game looks like:
A lot better than that. On the forecheck, finishing checks, working their D, talking in our zone, quick exits, a way better penalty kill, a way better power play, responding the right way, getting mad at yourself for not performing the right way. Lots of stuff.
JOHN TAVARES (15:48 TOI)
On tonight’s loss:
Well, we got dominated in special teams. We just didn’t respond very well at all when we faced some adversity. Our urgency just doesn’t seem to be there consistently. I don’t know what else we need in front of us to motivate us. We’re obviously at a crucial point in our season and time of year. You know, we’ve only got so many games left and we’re fighting hard so we’ve got to determine what we want to do.
More on tonight’s loss and turning things around:
Obviously, the way that special teams went today really put us in a tough spot. When things don’t go our way, we’ve got to find better ways to respond. We just don’t respond very well getting down a goal, getting down two even though the game wasn’t being dominated on either side for either stretch. We did some decent things early and then we seemed to, I don’t know, either get frustrated with the way we’re playing or feel like things aren’t going our way. That’s this time of year, things are going to be hard. You’ve got to find ways to overcome it.