What do Joe Biden, Kamala Harris and Sheldon Keefe have in common? All three can’t wait for November. For Maple Leafs coach Keefe, the pain and humiliation will linger from losing a qualifying-round playoff series that was there for the taking. But the first eight months of 2020 have already provided 20/20 hindsight, helping him […]Keefe vows to make most of long Leaf layoff — Toronto Sun
Q. (Chris Johnston, Sportsnet): I’m wondering if you could tell us if Jake was taken to hospital and if you have any update on his condition yet?
SHELDON KEEFE: Yeah, he was taken to hospital. I’m told he’s responsive and all of that. Just awaiting his assessment.
Q. (Josh Clipperton, The Canadian Press): Just wondering what the difference was today. You guys were able to generate a lot more. What was the difference from game one?
SHELDON KEEFE: Every game is going to be slightly different, it’s going to have its own personality. Today I thought we forechecked really hard right from the start of the game and some loose pucks became available, gave us an extra opportunity to attack the net. That was a really good sign for us but our guys brought it to another level today from a competitive standpoint and that really helped us in all regards.
Q. (Terry Koshan, Toronto Sun): What was happening in the defensive zone that really negated the forecheck that Columbus had in game one? What were you guys doing a lot better today?
SHELDON KEEFE: Well we were doing a better job up ice in their half of the ice. As a result, most of the time when it entered our half of the ice they were in line changes and not forechecking as a full unit. That makes it a lot easier for us. That’s obviously every team’s goal going into a game and today worked out for us there.
Q. (Kevin McGran, Toronto Star): I guess if Jake Muzzin is going to hospital he’s out of the bubble and can’t come back even if he could. What will you have to do without him? What will losing him mean to this team?
SHELDON KEEFE: I’m not really certain on exactly what the protocol is for this situation. There are protocols in place for these types of situations and I’m not exactly certain what the details are. Our focus is and always will be just on his well-being and making sure he’s okay.
Q. (Mark Masters, TSN): Was there any frustration with the fact Korpisalo seemed locked in and you’re getting the chances and you couldn’t find the back of the net? How do you feel the group handled that?
SHELDON KEEFE: I think we handled it well. It was on my mind, of course, just making sure that we stayed with it. I just kept monitoring our bench and monitoring our players’ mannerisms and how they were coming back to the bench. You see guys talking to themselves and I think we were just focused, focused on what we had to do on the ice and staying with it. So that was really good to see. It was not unlike what happened in game one in terms of us just staying with it, but obviously we were generating more today so there was a little bit more happening in and around the net. The goalie was a big difference for them but I really liked how our guys just took a drink of water and got ready for the next shift and stayed with it and believed in what we were doing.
Q. (Ken Campbell, The Hockey News): Mitch [Marner] just said that on the Muzzin play when you guys asked the official what had happened, he said that he was crosschecked. If that’s the case, do you wonder why they don’t call that more in the NHL? It seems like the crosscheck goes so uncalled and that might have been a reason why something like this could have happened.
SHELDON KEEFE: I think the refs are out there doing their best, doing their job and I’ve got to focus on doing my job, which is preparing our team and keeping us ready to go and that moment there was about keeping us focused. A lot of things happen in the game and it’s our job to just play through it.
Q. (Sean Farrell, NHL.com): What has Fred [Andersen’s] play through the first two games meant to the team?
SHELDON KEEFE: It means a great deal. Obviously, goaltender is very important. You’re seeing it on the other side as well with Columbus. He gives us belief in what we’re doing and if we crack, he’s going to be there for us. It’s two excellent games by him here now. Today when we did crack and they had a little bit of a look or a little bit of a push, he was there. He gives our guys even more life and energy.
AUSTON MATTHEWS AND JOHN TAVARES
Q. (Josh Clipperton, The Canadian Press): What’s it like, the feeling of being two minutes away from the win and then seeing a teammate go down like that and just the quietness of the building?
JOHN TAVARES: No question, seeing one of your teammates go down, especially a guy like Muzz, you know the type of warrior he is. I think what he brings to our team is unmeasurable. Obviously, very tough. All signs are very positive being around him and nice to close it out for him, but certainly tough to see, especially how much we love that guy.
Q. (Terry Koshan, Toronto Sun): Auston, could I get your thoughts on the goal that you scored and what you were feeling after Korpisalo had stopped the first 55 shots he saw in games one and two?
AUSTON MATTHEWS: Yeah, obviously excitement. It’s postseason, everything is tight out there and goals are hard to come by. It was nice to get that one and kind of jump start a nice push. I thought we played pretty well in the first period and second period and I think we just tried to stick with it. [Hyman] made a great play and I just tried to deflect it towards the net and it just happened to go in.
Q. (Rosie DiManno, Toronto Star): Question for John, earlier on in the first and second period, there were times when you were shaking your head during the power play and casting eyes to the ceiling in disbelief. Can you just contrast that with the celebration on your goal?
JOHN TAVARES: He made some great saves. I thought there was a couple that were deflected and were a little bit more fortunate on his side, but he’s obviously playing really well, he’s a really good goalie. You want to see those go in. I just tried to focus on the next shift, next opportunity. On the goal they really were aggressive and I think both D kind of jumped in and I was our last forward coming back and I kind of saw the play getting broken up so as I saw that, I just kind of anticipate that puck might be coming the other way so I was able to get a good bead on it and lucky enough to get that opportunity and nice to finish it off, especially after some of the chances I had.
Q. (Chris Johnston, Sportsnet): Auston, I’m wondering what the biggest factor was for the team in being able to create so many good looks in this versus the first one?
AUSTON MATTHEWS: I think both games, to be honest, we had some pretty good looks, probably more so tonight. I think just upping our compete level, getting to the net, dirty areas and trying to get on the inside where we can beat guys to the net. I thought we came out with a strong push to start the game and I think just the communication factor was there tonight for us and just full effort throughout the lineup.
Q. (Mark Masters, TSN): John, what allowed you guys to do a better job generating chances off the rush considering how well Columbus usually does against that?
JOHN TAVARES: I think we were just quicker tonight and that’s not just necessarily the way we’re moving our feet but I think just our execution and the way we moved the puck. I thought D did a great job of just handling their forecheck, which they do really well, and then I think as forwards we were just in sync reading off each other and doing good job of, when we had to, getting pucks in behind and getting on the inside and first on those races that allowed us to then set up the next couple of plays to break them down and create some opportunities, some more possessions. Obviously, it was a positive tonight for us, it’s something we have to continue, especially when you expect them to make some adjustments. I like the way we were just in sync and connected today.
Q. (Marty Klinkenberg, The Globe and Mail): In a game like this where you very much dominated but still it’s late in the second and it’s 0-0, does it start to get more tense as you’re playing?
JOHN TAVARES: Certainly those thoughts can creep in, but I think as a team when we’re playing like that I think we have so much belief in each other. I think the type of team we have that eventually it’s going to pay off, we’re going to find a way to break through. Don’t get discouraged and stick with it, we’re playing, we’re doing the things we want to do, we’re creating opportunities. Just sticking with it and not getting discouraged, like I said, just kind of staying one shift at a time. A little cliche but you’re just kind of staying in the moment, waiting for the next opportunity. Great play by [Matthews] to break the ice for us. It was a big goal and something he always does for us. As a team we just kind of fed off one another and he led the way.
FREDERIK ANDERSEN AND MITCH MARNER
Q (Kevin McGran, Toronto Star): Your thoughts on seeing Jake Muzzin go down. He’s been such a warrior for you guys and so close to the end of the game too. What’s going through your head when you’re seeing him lying there in injury and being taken off on a stretcher?
FREDERIK ANDERSEN: Yeah it’s difficult. Seeing a guy like Jake that everyone cares about, he’s well loved in the locker room. Being as tough as he is it’s really hard to see him being told to lay down and not move. We’re really just thinking about him and making sure all the right steps are being taken and hopefully he recovers soon.
MITCH MARNER: Yeah, just like Freddie said, he’s a big part of this team, penalty kill, even-strength against the best players against the other teams. He really does mean a lot to us. Being beside him there when he went down and stayed down, obviously it’s a little worrisome and to see the stretcher come out, a lot of things running through your mind. Like Freddie said we’re all on his side, we’re all praying for him and just want to make sure when he does come back he’s 100 percent. There are a lot bigger things than hockey.
Q (Josh Clipperton, Canadian Press): For Freddie, what are you thinking when you’re seeing the guy at the other stop shot after shot? I think it was the 55th or 56th shot that they finally found a way through. What’s your mindset when you see the other guy doing that?
FREDERIK ANDERSEN: Just keep doing what I’m doing. What happens in their end is useless to think about. Just keep doing what I can do and be ready for when they do come. They’re putting a hell of a pressure on him and both games I think we’ve had the puck a lot and obviously been playing well, but I think we did a better job of getting in and getting second chances and having confidence in guys being able to score.
Q. (Jonas Siegel, The Athletic): Mitch, you were right there with Jake. When did you realize something wasn’t right?
MITCH MARNER: I just remember clearing the puck, I remember kind of turning over and seeing him on the ground. Kind of saw him get up on all fours. At this time I think the puck just exit, I was still kind of standing beside him and then I realized after drawing up to the blueline to try and stop them from entering, they dumped it in and hit the ref. At that point he was back down, full lying down. I just kind of skated over to him, I just asked him if he was okay. Obviously, he just kind of said, just give him a second and a couple of other things that doesn’t matter, it’ll stay between us. Like I said, we just want to make sure all the right things are happening to make sure he’s back to being 100 percent. He’s a big part of this team. Hopefully he recovers quickly. Like I said, there’s a lot bigger things than hockey, especially outside this world and his family is a major priority. You’ve got to make sure you’re able to still play with your kids.
Q. (Mark Masters, TSN): What was it like reuniting with Auston and how did you feel your game grew in today’s game versus game one?
MITCH MARNER: For myself I think I was just a lot more competitive with the puck, on the puck, a lot more dialed into my battles and being better consistently all over the ice. I think we worked the puck nicely around, we were using our speed, something we’re going to have to just keep doing and keep using our speed coming through the middle and supporting each other. The chemistry kind of just kicked right back with [Hyman] as well and we were making plays, we’ve just got to find ways to get around these guys trying to block our shots.
Q. (Ken Campbell, The Hockey News): Mitch, I just wanted to ask you as a forward out there who’s in the thick of the battle, that hit on Jake Muzzin was a crosscheck from behind. It was a fairly innocuous one but still a crosscheck from behind that seems to go uncalled almost all the time in this league now. Do you think the League has to do more about crosschecking now? A couple of years ago it was the casual slash and now they’re cracking down on that. Do you think they need to crack down on the crosscheck?
MITCH MARNER: It’s hard for me to say at this moment. I was beside [Muzzin] when the play happened and I was turning and shooting it while he was coming down so I haven’t seen the actual play yet. I think the player’s off two to three feet from the boards and a crosscheck does happen, usually it doesn’t matter how good you are on your feet, there’s a possible chance of you going head first into the boards. It’s always a scary incident. Like I said, I have not seen that play yet, reviewed or on my phone or anything like that, but we were asking the refs and their response was just he got pushed, he got crosschecked, he hit one other player and that’s how it all happened. I think usually when a player is two or three feet from the wall, that’s when the dangerous stuff happens and the injuries come in part. Like I said, I haven’t seen it, we’ll leave it to the League to discuss what they think is necessary.
If it makes Sheldon Keefe feel better, Pat Burns and Pat Quinn both lost their first playoff games behind the Maple Leafs bench and did fine in the bigger picture of post-season success.
But there’s more urgency when down one in a COVID-19 condensed best-of-five.Unlike the aforementioned pair, whose teams were just happy to be at the dance after years on the sidelines, the 2020 Leafs are built for more immediate success. Now that he’s seen the lay of the land — no home comforts at barren Scotiabank Arena, a feisty foe, a 2-0 loss, and some shortcomings in team execution — Keefe insists his team can counterpunch Tuesday at 4 p.m.
First, he needs more than Auston Matthews to drive the net, even though the leading scorer also caught the full brunt of Blue Jackets defencemen Seth Jones and Zach Werenski. Linemates John Tavares and Mitch Marner, meanwhile, were rarely able to get near the blue paint.
“Taking care of the puck, putting it in intelligent spots, finding different ways to get involved offensively,” Keefe listed for the duo. “This team, as we fully expected, would make it really hard, especially on the rush where Mitch and John have a lot of success. We know we’re facing the No. 1 team in the league defending the rush and because of that, we have to find different ways to score.”
More frequently mentioned whenever public complaints are lodged against Leafs kept on the perimeter is William Nylander. Sunday made it 21 playoff games with just three goals, but Keefe was quick to hush the critics, saying he ranked him with Matthews as the strongest catalysts to get on the board.
“I felt it and the stats back it up — (Nylander) had the puck on his stick more than anyone on our team in the offensive zone,” Keefe claimed “He was not a problem for us.”
There could be a lineup change, either with more stacking of Matthews with Marner and Tavares in 5-on-5 gambits or Pierre Engvall replacing Frederik Gauthier as fourth line centre. Engvall practiced there Monday.
“Pierre didn’t have a great camp,” Keefe summarized. “We think he has more to offer. At his best, he makes us a better team, but we haven’t seen his best. When he gets back in the lineup, we expect him to really push to stay. We need him to be physical, skating, doing all the things he’s capable of.”
As a colleague joked in SBA’s frigid 300 level press area, Nick Robertson would’ve got a Legend’s Row statue had he scored Sunday on that first shift chance, based on so many camp stories written about him. Joonas Korpisalo denied him, but it was an impressive start for the 18-year-old. Like the rest of the Leafs, his energy level waned as the Jackets stiffened.
“It went by so fast,” Robertson said of the Kasperi Kapanen set-up on Korpisalo. “Unfortunately, he got to the left side where I wanted, but it was a good save.
“Personally, I thought I did better than expected. There’s obviously a lot more at stake given my debut’s in playoffs and I’m not given more than one exhibition, but (Tuesday) I’ll be a little more confident, hopefully get more shots off and stick to more of my game.”
COLUMBUS BLOCK PARTY
The Leafs are finding there’s a lot more than Jones and Werenski when it comes to picking the lock on the Jackets’ defence. David Savard had five shot blocks in Game 1, part of 18 throughout their lineup and he and Vladislav Gavrikov formed an effective pairing.
“Savvy has it tattooed on his head he’s going to block shots, that’s a big part of his game,” praised Columbus coach John Tortorella. “(But) after Game 1, I think we need to be even better.”
Tavares noted the Jackets collectively “don’t sell out” when they do get in lanes, giving themselves block options with their bodies and sticks. They take away enough ice that Korpisalo can concern himself with setting up to guard sides and top corners.
“We have to break them down, draw them away from the net, make them defend in their end consistently. I’d like to think we can wear them down over 60 minutes.”
Until Sunday, It had been more than 27 years since a Foligno had a playoff point in Toronto. Columbus captain Nick Foligno’s assist on Alex Wennberg’s empty netter links to papa Mike’s helper on Wendel Clark’s marker in the Leafs’5-4 defeat to Los Angeles in Game 7 of the conference final.
“It’s always a little nostalgic coming back here,” said Nick, who was kindergarten age when Mike was traded here from Buffalo. “The memories of ‘92-93, the way my dad was treated … it’s a place he thinks fondly of and has a lot of great hockey memories of.”
If you’ve not heard much of Korpisalo, he was taken to lead off the third round of the 2012 draft. The five goalies selected ahead of him included first rounder Andrei Vasilevskiy, the all-star with Tampa Bay … Frederik Andersen brought his playoff goals-against average under 3.00 with 33 saves Sunday, but he’s now lost 12 of 21 playoff games … Toronto’s Cup odds took a hit after Sunday. BetOnline.com pushed them from 22-to-1 to 40-1, now ranked with Game 1 losers Nashville and the Rangers. Columbus’s 66-to-1 odds didn’t move, with Colorado at 13-to-2 now favoured to win it all … Alex Stalock, with the shutout for the Wild on Sunday, is the same goalie who couldn’t get a shot with the Dubas/Keefe Marlies in 2015-16. Traded from San Jose in the James Reimer deal, he called being buried in the AHL depth chart the low point of his career. He’s also Minnesota’s Bill Masterton Trophy nominee.
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.
Tyson Barrie predicts Sheldon Keefe and the Maple Leafs coaches “will hammer us with video” the next couple of days after finally seeing playoff foe Columbus in a real game. But rather than rely solely on Thursday night’s Blue Jackets-Bruins’ exhibition intel, Keefe saw much of what he needed to know in a jolting TV […]LEAFS SNAPSHOTS: Keefe’s already sized up Jackets — Toronto Sun
HEAD COACH SHELDON KEEFE
On the team having success putting the game away in the third period tonight:
I think it’s a confidence thing. That’s part of it. So yeah, I do. I don’t think that’s characteristic that a team has. I think it’s something that comes and goes, kind of with your confidence as a team. We haven’t really been going as a team, so we haven’t had that. This is another really close hockey game that we’ve had to play here and, again, at 5-on-5 we were outscored today. That’s been a challenge for us. That’s something that obviously we’ve worked at, but when you’re going up against the best offensive team in the NHL, you’re going to give up a great deal. When we did, Freddie [Andersen] was outstanding, in the second period especially. There were a lot of very good things for us and we’ll take two very important points.
On Morgan Rielly’s play tonight:
I thought he was pretty good, all things considered. He hasn’t played and it’s a tough game – especially in that second period. It’s hard for our defence to get off the ice and they’re really coming. It looked like it was taking a toll on him physically, in terms of his conditioning. It’s one thing to train, as we all know and say, and practice in the gym and all that, but it is a whole different ballgame. Just his legs and the way he skates, all of a sudden, he jumps into a hole – whether it’s offensively or defensively he’ll cover for you – he has instincts along the offensive blueline, waits above for the defensive pucks. He plays the whole game.
On if anything over the last couple of days led to a strong start tonight:
We’ve talked a lot about our starts and consistency in our play. I thought we started really well. It was a combination of a really good start for us, but I don’t think it was a good start for Tampa. I thought we moved the puck extremely well. It was a game we just played with the puck on our stick a lot. That’s when we are frustrating. We just kept coming and had lots of chances, lots of time with the puck. It was a really good period for us in that sense, we didn’t have to defend very much at all. That was a real key for us was to try to keep the puck out of their hands and in their end.
AUSTON MATTHEWS (1 GOAL)
On having a few days between the California trip and tonight:
You have lots of time to reflect, it’s a five-hour flight so kick back and relax and nice to get a couple days off and try to get adjusted back to the time zone and time change and everything. Then have a good day of practice and just try to come out like we did tonight. The second period, I think, it got away from us a bit, lots of penalties but I think our first period is a good starting point for us and how we want to play. We’ve got to make sure we do that more consistently and throughout the game.
On Morgan Rielly’s leadership:
He’s extremely vocal and I think he’s a guy that everyone looks up to. I know for myself he’s one of my closest friends on the team and someone that helped me out, especially my first couple years. I spent a lot of time with him and I still do. He’s a great leader and a great teammate and really good person. To go along with his hockey abilities, he’s a guy we’re definitely happy to have back.
WILLIAM NYLANDER (1 GOAL)
On tonight’s win:
Well, obviously, the PK was great, and I think our power play got some big important goals today. We played solid through the first and third periods, so we want to clean up that second period.
On what was the key to the strong start tonight:
I think we had a couple days to feel fresh and we felt we were buzzing already in warmups.
On what worked well on the power play tonight:
I think we just kept it simple, tried to move it around and make easy plays and not force anything really. It was really good work.
MORGAN RIELLY (21:47 TOI)
On the important of consistency this time of year:
Yeah, we’ve talked about that before, we’ve talked about being more consistent and I think now more than ever, just given the standings, the time of year and remaining games, I think it’s an opportunity for us to start to play well and build some momentum. I think if you look back to this time last year our performances weren’t what we wanted them to be in time for playoffs and this year we’ve got a chance to fix that and change that. It’s important that we take that seriously and take the good things here tonight and talk about it tomorrow.
On the key to the strong first period:
Well, I think we moved the puck quick; we’re not holding onto it. For me, I think it was just D-zone execution and the importance of that. Going back, if we’re able to breakout, quick and create speed that way, it just seems to be smoother for us. It’s when you go back for pucks and you get beat back for pucks and you lose races, that’s when you tend to get hemmed in. I think that if we focus on that and that rhythm it creates more of a support system and we can move the puck forward with speed through the neutral zone.
HEAD COACH SHELDON KEEFE
On the need to attack the opposition’s net to generate more offence next week:
Obviously, when you look at the last couple games on this trip, we haven’t been able to generate much offensively. So that’s part of it. You look at a lot of the goals that we’ve scored here in recent games, a lot of it’s been happening around the net. We need to have more of a presence in there, but it’s an interesting road trip. You’d never think that our team would give up two goals in two games and only come away with one point, you’d probably think we were talking about a different team, but that’s the reality, that’s the way it was this week. The offence dried up for us, a lot of things that have been going in for us haven’t and didn’t on this trip and we don’t get results as a result.
On the challenge of keeping the team’s spirits up after the road trip:
Well, it’s difficult, but I think just the fact that our team takes a lot of heat for how we defend and what we give up and how many goals we give up and all those types of things and how wide-open games are. We’ve focused a lot on that as a team, in terms of slowing a lot of that stuff down. I think we’ve done that for quite a while here now — and now today wasn’t as good as yesterday in that regard, but we’ve got to find ways within that to generate offence. I think that the positives are that our guys will feel good about the fact that they’re playing in these tight games and feel good about the fact on the back-to-back at the end of the trip here that we have our best period in the third and have a pretty strong push throughout the period, but we’ll regroup and be ready on home ice.
On the power play drying up in recent games:
Yeah, it has gone dry. Really, what I’m seeing is a lot of the shots that had been going in for us aren’t going in, in recent games. So when that happens, we’ve got to really look at things and see what we can change and see what we can do a little differently to find some different looks and change things up a little bit. Now, we’ve scored at pretty much a ridiculous pace for quite some time here now and over time those things dry up a little bit and you’ve got to make adjustments.
JACK CAMPBELL (26 SAVES)
On the pressure on him to be perfect when the team is struggling to score goals:
I have belief — full belief — in this team as far as their goal-scoring ability. Obviously, we’re a little snake-bitten right now, but I think they played well enough to score a couple and I just take ownership of that second one. If I can see it, I expect myself to stop it every time and he just beat me clean so that one’s on me and we should have had at least a point.
On his save on Getzlaf while shorthanded to end the second period:
Yeah, it was battling. It was a strange play at the net, it kind of went off a shin pad or something, I made a right pad save and the game kind of slowed down a little bit and I kind of saw it play out. I just tried to get my glove up and luckily, he put it there. So I’ll take that one for sure.
MITCH MARNER (22:26 TOI)
On the level of frustration at the recent lack of scoring for the team:
I just think we know it’s going to come so there’s no need to rush or put pressure on ourselves. We’re a team that can score and this road trip we showed that we can play in low-scoring games, it’s just our scoring wasn’t there, but it’ll come.
On what the team needs to do to generate more greasy goals:
Yeah, I just think those second opportunities. It starts with all of us. From our D to our forwards, we all come up top, we all get those shots through and tonight and through this road trip forward-wise, when we come in as F3, we’re not getting those shots through. We’re making those turnovers happen and getting caught with our D down and I just think ruining a little bit of chemistry and stuff like that. So, like I said, we know it’s going to turn around, there’s no reason to feel like we should put pressure on ourselves and we’ve just got to stay calm with it.
AUSTON MATTHEWS (23:03 TOI)
On the team having the personnel to be able to push through this week’s slump:
We’re all in this together. You play through the good and the bad and the adversity and obviously, in the position that we’re in, there’s lots of critics and lots of stuff that comes with it. But I think in this room we’re headstrong, and it doesn’t matter what’s going to get thrown our way, we’re going to come out of it stronger. Obviously, not the road trip that that we really wanted. So, that’s on us and we’ve got to just build forward and put this aside, learn from it and be better.
On what has prevented the team from generating offence:
I think it’s no secret you come on this road trip, it’s not easy and I think the teams that we played they’re more — their strategy and kind of structure is more to just kind of defend and push you to the outside and let you make the mistakes first. I think for us, we didn’t really challenge the middle of the goalie, he didn’t really have too many tough saves to make. I think that’s a bit of an issue for us right now. I think it’s a little bit of our structure too. I think we’re kind of one foot in the door, one foot out as far as the way we want to play, and I think we just all need to be 100 percent in.
JOHN TAVARES (21:18 TOI)
On what has led to a lack of goals in recent games:
Well, it’s that time of year, things get tighter. You don’t have as much room as maybe you get at times throughout the season. We’ve just got to find a way to get second and third opportunities, get a couple ugly ones. I thought we pressed hard and stayed with it. Obviously, we just didn’t cash in.
On if the struggle to score has led to the team playing tight:
Yeah, maybe. At times, I guess it’s just, honestly, don’t even think about where you’re putting it, just get it on net. I think get bodies there, find a way to cause some confusion, make it tough on them to have to defend you around their net, make it tough on the goaltender. Just got to stay patient, got to keep working and staying with it. Obviously, we’ve got to find a way to put some in and get some results. There was a lot of good things. Just got to find a way to, like I said, get inside that tough part of the ice. That’s tough to get opportunities at this time of year.
HEAD COACH SHELDON KEEFE
On tonight’s game:
I thought it was a pretty even hockey game all the way through. I thought our team did a good job in the game, especially as we got through that first period, staying with the process just with the way that they play, clogging the neutral zone and defend really well. I thought as we found our way through that, adjusted in the second and third I thought we did a good job as a team. It’s a game that really could have gone either way. We’re happy to get one point, we could have two in overtime or the shootout, it didn’t go our way in that sense, but not a lot to complain about for us as a group.
On how the team managed frustration when it couldn’t convert scoring chances:
I thought they dealt with it pretty well at times. I think they were 0-for-3 on breakaways so the guys that are missing those type of chances, you can see there’s a little frustration setting in, but in terms of the way the game was going I thought we managed it okay. At times I felt we turned it over a little bit through the neutral zone, but that’s the number one team in the NHL at holding their blueline. They’re going to make it hard on you, you know that going into the game and they did that at times. I thought we stayed with it, Fred in net was outstanding for us. We just couldn’t find a way to get one in. Tonight is a night where we need our power play to be the difference. So if there’s an area we’d like to certainly be better in, that would be it.
FREDERIK ANDERSEN (30 SAVES)
On playing behind tonight’s defensive effort:
It was a great game, a beautiful game. It was great to play behind a team like that. The way we played made it easy for me. It was unfortunate, obviously, we couldn’t get the extra point.
On how he felt after a few days without playing:
I felt pretty dialed in.
On how unusual it is for the team to be shutout:
I mean, he played incredible down there too. So I don’t think that’s odd. He’s one of the best in the League, I think, when he’s on his game. We could have easily scored but he pulled out some nice saves when we had our chances.
KYLE CLIFFORD (5 HITS)
On Jonathan Quick’s performance tonight:
Yeah, he’s a — Quick is a competitor. Obviously, he had a pretty good game and I felt like he stole it for them.
On tonight’s performance:
I thought for the most part we controlled the game, we played pretty well. We had a lot of scoring chances. I’m familiar with them, I know they’re a tight defensive team. It just would have been nice to come out with the win here.
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — Sheldon Keefe’s head triumphed over his heart. Read MoreAndersen returns to Leafs crease on Thursday versus Kings — Toronto Sun
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — Sheldon Keefe’s head triumphed over his heart.
Rather than give goaltender Jack Campbell a start on Thursday against his former club, the Los Angeles Kings, Keefe will turn to Frederik Andersen after Campbell was sharp against the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday.
Campbell will start on Friday in Anaheim against the Ducks, giving Andersen another rest.
“The biggest thought process for us is we wanted to get Jack in two out of three games this week,” Keefe said. “That trumps anything in terms of him playing against his former team.
“Also, Fred’s our starting goaltender. It makes sense for him coming off (the fact) he didn’t play (Tuesday) night, had a full practice day (Wednesday) and he goes in and plays a game. He deserves that. At this time of year especially, you have to make those right decisions.”
Keefe has spoken of load management regarding Andersen, without using those words specifically.
Andersen has made 50 starts this season, tying him for third-most in the NHL prior to games on Wednesday. Campbell gives the Leafs a legitimate, don’t-need-to-worry backup, and we assume Campbell will be used more in the final month of the regular season.
Defenceman Rasmus Sandin will be back in the lineup after sitting in San Jose, with Calle Rosen likely to be scratched.
— Terry Koshan
HEAD COACH SHELDON KEEFE
On tonight’s loss:
They played really hard today. We just finished a stretch of games here where we played against some of the top teams in the League. For me, that was a harder game for us to play today, just the pace the puck moved, the pace that their feet moved, how competitive they were. Our inability to respond to that and find another level in our game causes a problem where we just — the ice tilted in that second period and we just couldn’t get it back. So that was really tough. The third period to me was pretty even, we just gave up some chances that ended up in our net, but the second period was where they really established their game and took it to us. Strange as it is, that’s the one that we win. We win that period of the three. So we’re in a good spot to try and play there in the third but we gave up too many chances and eventually cost us. You don’t win games when you score two goals.
On Jack Campbell’s play tonight:
I thought he battled all through that second period. There’s a lot of shots, a lot of pucks coming at him. He made some great saves for us there to keep us in the game and give us a chance to win that period and then set us up for the third. Some of the goals — when you look at the goals that go in, there’s some funny stuff happening behind the net, behind the goal line, stuff like that, but he battled and made saves for us. As I said, their goaltender made saves too. We had some real high-end chances that didn’t go in for us, but we’ve got to find a way to generate more than two goals if we want to have a chance to win, and then we can’t give up nearly what we gave up today. A lot of things that haven’t been issues for us in terms of odd-man rushes against and guys getting behind us — we’ve been talking about how we’ve cleaned that up pretty well, but It came back into our game today, I think, in part due to the pace of play, and we just didn’t respond well to it.
JACK CAMPBELL (33 SAVES)
On what San Jose did well in the second period:
I just know they got a lot better. I’m just disappointed. I thought we played, we battled and, you know, I just think Jones outplayed me, bottom line. So I’m not happy about that and I just feel responsible for this one.
On if San Jose is known for lively boards when pucks are shot into the zone:
I’ve played well here before and yeah, I don’t know what was going on there. They must have greased them up before the game. The pucks were coming off pretty strange angles, but no excuses. I’ve just got to find the puck and make the save.
On if he felt any rust after not playing the prior seven games:
No. I felt sharp and dialed in and no excuse for giving up four. It’s just not acceptable.
MITCH MARNER (1 GOAL)
On where the game got away from the team:
Most of that second period they dominated us. They did what they wanted to and we didn’t win enough puck battles. The only reason we really had a chance going into that third period was because of Jack. He played great tonight like usual for us and made it feel possible, got us through that second period and that third we just gave up too many chances. We weren’t stopping on pucks or being strong enough on pucks and it came back to haunt us.
On if the team is still learning how to be more consistent when things go wrong:
I think it’s just the consistency of every shift. It’s just knowing that you want to watch guys go on before you and battle, get in lanes. Coming into this game we talked about how they have one of the best, if not the best guy, at getting pucks through. When that’s happening, we know their game plan is going to be trying to get pucks through on tips, high tips, low tips. We need guys to get in lanes, we need guys to sacrifice for each other and I think that’s something that we’re just missing. It’s just guys needing to buy in more and getting themselves ready.
AUSTON MATTHEWS (1 GOAL, 1 ASSIST)
On trying to play catch up tonight:
Yeah, they play fast. I think the momentum kind of tipped their way and I think we didn’t really do a very good job of getting it back. I think they just kept coming and coming and a lot of times, we just had no pushback. Tough to get stuff going that way.
On San Jose making a big push in the second period:
Yeah, for sure. I think we just got caught out there and they were able to just continue to play in our zone and kind of tire us out, tire our back end out and just kind of wear on us. So, like I said, they came with a good push there and we just really had no answer.
HEAD COACH SHELDON KEEFE
On contributions from all lines and D pairings tonight:
Well, the depth guys today did a great job for us. Not only providing offence but they gave us good shifts, worked hard, carried play for us, for the most part, when they were out there. We’re asking a lot of our defence — all our defence that are out there — we’re asking a lot of them to play different roles than they have all season for most of them. Guys did a good job. Marty [Marincin] did a good job all game, and yet had a tough stretch to end the second period there and he got quite tired. I believe his minutes were reaching a minute for [that shift]. He regrouped and made a big-time play there. I’ve come to only expect highlight reels from Marty with the Marlies. Every time he scored it was a memorable goal.
On what he has learned about the group over the last week:
I think just we’re working. We look like what we’re capable of when we’re going about it properly in terms of our preparation and our habits and our work ethic, competitiveness. And, frankly, I thought today we weren’t at the same level we were at on the road. The game was just different. I just thought we weren’t as sharp as we were on the road, so I didn’t love that, obviously. But, just once again, just responding to that first period and finding our way through all the ups and downs of it and then the game settles down and we stayed with it. We didn’t generate nearly as much offence as I thought we were capable of and would have liked to. We got enough to win the game. Not a perfect game defensively by any means, but volume of shots and activity at our net with our defence the way that it is and what we’re asking everybody to do. I think we did a nice job with everybody stepping up and it’s been a collective effort.
On the importance of trying to expand the gap on Florida in the standings this week:
We’ve got to win our games. That’s really all we can focus on thus all we need to take care of. It’s going to be important for us here to take this week, we feel good about it, now we’ve got a little bit of time here before we get going and play on Tuesday and we’re going to travel out there. We’re going to play against teams when you look at the standings that you’re going to think that there’s real opportunity there for us. But we’ve been watching those teams and looking at it. They’ve been playing good hockey and they’ve beaten good teams, those teams out there. It’s going to be competitive games. They’re important games for us, nonetheless. We’ve done pretty well on the road. Obviously, this week we did really well on the road. The sun worked in our favour so hopefully that will continue.
On the connection between the loss last Saturday to Carolina and the three-game win streak:
Well I think the only real connection, obviously, is there’s a real shock to the system when you have a night like that, right? You really get everyone’s attention. So that’s really what I would say. I think — it’s funny how you want to look at it, right? If you look at a six-game sample there, we had three games that were pretty messy. Or you look at a [five] game sample and four out of the five that we’ve played here — the Pittsburgh game on home ice, two road games and tonight. The connection is just we got a wakeup call. When we ended on the road, we got the guys attention on the importance of getting your stuff together, responding well. It’s going to be tough the rest of the way, all the way through, and we can’t have any lapses.
FREDERIK ANDERSEN (25 SAVES)
On what has led to the team’s lower event defensive efforts in recent games:
I think we really bought in to the way we want to play, and I think guys are doing a great job of selecting shots, especially down the end and obviously leading to some good goals. Just chill the game and I think we’ve been playing really tight as a group, so the resiliency has been great.
On bouncing back after allowing a couple of goals early:
Yeah, you said it. Just regroup and focus on what’s next. It doesn’t matter what’s happened, you can’t do anything about it early, but the most important thing is to focus on what’s next and that’s the next shot so all I can focus on.
ZACH HYMAN (1 GOAL)
On the three-game win streak:
Yeah, they’re not perfect games, for sure, but they are all wins, and they are all games where we’re playing against really good opponents and we have to battle in them and really earn our wins. So three huge games for us and it’s big.
On what he’s liked most from his team in the last three games:
I think everyone is contributing. I think that’s been awesome. Great for [Marincin] to get the game winner — what a goal, right? That really gets the bench alive and that was awesome. Obviously, we’re short on staff on the back on D but all those guys are stepping up and playing great. It was three great wins.
MARTIN MARINCIN (GAME-WINNING GOAL)
On his goal:
I just got a great pass by [Tavares] and the ice was open. I had good speed, so I felt like it was going to be a good shot and I was going to try. It goes in.
On his reaction to the goal:
I was so, so happy. It’s my first goal this season. I was excited for that and that goal made it 3-2 for us. Really good goal in the third period, that was good for the team, I think. I was excited.
AUSTON MATTHEWS (1 GOAL)
On a full team effort tonight:
It’s great, obviously love to see when you’ve got multiple lines with all guys contributing. Awesome to see Marv’s goal, it was unbelievable, so I think everyone was pretty excited after that one.
On if he’d seen Marincin score a goal like that before:
I’ve seen it. I’ve seen it before; you don’t see it often from old Marv but when he brings it out it’s usually a treat. It was pretty fun to watch.
HEAD COACH SHELDON KEEFE
On what he liked in tonight’s win:
Yeah, a lot of things. We get scored on first and we don’t let it snowball. I thought we just gathered ourselves and made a couple little tactical adjustments that the guys caught on to quickly. I thought it turned the game for us in the first period there. So we’ve got ourselves the lead and then gave it up, then came back and built an even bigger lead. Just a lot of really good things. Then the third period, we just have to — you know that they’re going to have a really strong push and it’s important for us to not crack. They get the one and we stayed with it even shorthanded on the back end. Some guys battled really hard. A lot of really positive things for us in terms of winning a close game.
On if he feels a game like tonight is how the team grows:
I certainly do. I’ve said we talked about, it’s that feeling, it’s going through it, it’s finding a way, it’s losing a leader in the back end in Jake Muzzin. Just finding a way to get it done and not cracking. I thought we did a good job. They had a push, they threw a lot of pucks at our net in that third period, but I think if you were to go through it you would see there wasn’t a whole lot of quality in terms of scoring chances or anything like that. The guys did a nice job of protecting the net and Freddie made solid saves and didn’t let anything get in at the end there for us. A lot of really good things — the penalty kill, power play.
On the severity of Muzzin’s injury:
We don’t know. We’re going to have to see how it is here tomorrow and kind of go from there. He obviously wasn’t well enough to return. We’ll give it tonight and get more information tomorrow.
FREDERIK ANDERSEN (26 SAVES)
On the performance of the defence after losing Muzzin for the third period:
Yeah, I thought we did a really good job of just kind of covering up for each other and playing hard. I think throughout the whole group was great today. The PK was great, we generated some offence off of that and some huge momentum and then the power play did their thing, so it was a great game overall.
On Nylander’s goal:
I didn’t see it until after, but it was pretty special. I think it just creates extra reach for him and you don’t really expect it so not everyone can pull that off but good for Willy. It’s pretty.
TYSON BARRIE (2 ASSISTS)
On tonight’s win:
I think it was great. I think we played a really solid game. We had a good response to what happened to us last week. It shows a lot of character in this team, and then having [Muzzin] go down and the guys just kind of battling and grinding out a third period is a really good sign for us.
On what he liked best about tonight’s performance:
I think just the way that we responded to some adversity. We’ve got guys go down and they make a big push in the third, but we don’t break like we have in the past. Everyone just kind of mucked it up there at the end and we got the two points, which is what we need right now.
WILLIAM NYLANDER (1 GOAL, 1 ASSIST)
On his goal:
I didn’t really have time to think, it just kind of happened, but it was a nice to put one in, that’s for sure.
On the play Mitch Marner made to get him the puck:
He had a good stick there and then he waited him out. He put his stick to the inside, so he was able to feed it down to me, which was great because I had some space down there by myself.
On if he was trying to elevate the shot:
Yeah, I can’t really see anything so I’m going by feel. But obviously, yeah, you have to get it up there you want to score. Vasilevskiy is good along the ice, so you’ve got to get it up.
JOHN TAVARES (2 GOALS)
On what he liked about tonight’s win:
Just sticking with it. We didn’t get down. We didn’t get away from the way we needed to play when things didn’t go our way. We did a lot of good things tonight, in terms of the way we want to play the game, to our identity. Also, just this time of year, it’s a battle out there each and every shift. Just staying with it and understanding that it’s not always pretty but just digging in, playing hard, playing as a group, sticking with it, doing what we need to do. It’s one game, so build on it and obviously each game only gets more important as we go.
On how tough it is to see Jake Muzzin suffer an injury:
Yeah, he’s such a key player for us. He’s been playing great. No question it’s a big loss, but at the same time we can’t hang our heads and think ‘why us?’ As a group, collectively, we’ve got to all continue to step up and fill that void and continue to play better. When guys get more opportunity, that’s their chance to take advantage of it, relish it and thrive with it.