HEAD COACH SHELDON KEEFE
On the loss:
Yeah, it’s a tough one. It’s going to be a tough one here for us to regroup from, it’s going to take a little time. Obviously, disappointing given the way it went for us the other day and we thought we had put together a good process and a good model for what we need to look like and how we can have success. I thought at 5-on-5, our first period was fine. Special teams was a real issue and perhaps signs of what was to come in terms of — especially our power play, I just thought our execution was so poor. It’s a sign our best players just weren’t having a good night. That was more of what was to come in the second and third. Get out of the first period up 1-0, 5-on-5 I thought we had played pretty good, especially the back half of it. A lot of that work was done from our third and fourth lines and the energy and pace that they had. We just were not able to sustain it. The special teams struggle again, this time our power play. Obviously, the penalty kill didn’t get good results, but our power play really had a chance to make a mark in the game and clearly failed to do so.
On if he thought the team expected an easy game after scoring two quick goals in the second period:
No, I didn’t. The reality is that the game really just stayed the same. We got a couple of shots and they went in. Their D hurt his shoulder, so they lost their coverage and allowed John to turn the corner and get his shot. When the goalie switch happened, I talked to the team and said if we don’t change how we’re playing, they don’t even need a goalie. There’re no chances, no shots, there’s nothing happening. They didn’t need a goaltender the way the game was going. Credit to them, we missed pretty well a near open net at the buzzer at the end of the second and could have made it 4-4 going into the third. Really, we just gifted them two at the start of the third. It’s game over from there. They competed hard, they were above us really the entire game and we just continued to pass into it. Our execution was poor, away from the puck was very poor, unorganized. From an execution standpoint, from our best people, especially, it was a real tough night like we’ve haven’t seen from them.
On his relationship with David Ayres:
Great. He’s got great energy, he comes to the rink every day, just wants to work and wants to be a part of it. Whether it’s with the Marlies or the Leafs, he’s always there when you need him. There’s probably not an emergency goaltender anywhere in pro hockey that has seen as many pro shots as this guy who’s in pretty much every day getting work. It feels terrible given that he’s on the other side today from our end of it. On a personal note, you can’t help but feel good for the guy.
On how to get the current mindset out of the team during a playoff push:
It’s just what we talked about before. It’s another embarrassing night, right? Embarrassing nights shock the system a little bit, you know? I think this game was different than the others. I don’t think today was a lack of work ethic or anything like that. Today was just our execution. We couldn’t connect on a pass. Part of it is them, they put pressure on us, Carolina pressured us, they were above us, but like you saw on our power play, we just couldn’t connect on passes. The execution was really poor and then you’ve got a team that works the way that they do. Not connecting makes it really tough to get anything going positive. Defensively, as a unit, our six D probably had as tough a night as they’ve had in quite some time. That’s a bad combination for us.
On Carolina responding to their goalie situation:
There’s a lot focus on the goalie, of course, but they were dominating us before the goalie switch. After it came, it just stays the same. You’ve got to get through five people to the goalie. We couldn’t get to Mrazek when he was in there. The game was the same. It just so happened it was a different guy in between the pipes. The game was the same, the just continued to play hard the way they were before.
FREDERIK ANDERSEN (42 SAVES)
On his takeaways from tonight’s performance:
At the end of the day, I’m going to try to focus on what I can do to do better out there and focus in on my tasks. I think I still have got to be better too and frustrating for everyone.
On if he felt a shift in the team’s play after Ayres came in for Mrazek:
I wasn’t paying too much attention to that. I was trying to worry about stopping the next puck and trying to give us a chance. I wasn’t good enough either. Good on Dave, I think he did a good job and I think they played well in front of him.
MITCH MARNER (20:11 TOI)
On what prevented the team from having success tonight:
I just think we didn’t have enough zone time. A lot of one-and-dones, turnovers, especially our line, especially myself. It’s just not good enough. I expect myself to be a lot better in these types of games. Knowing that was a big one, knowing that this team’s going to come out like that, it’s bulls— on my part. Something I’ve got to be better and we’ve got to be better with.
On if the team the team was forcing things in the third period:
Maybe. Like I said, I think we were a lot of just one-and-dones. Our line’s past games, we’ve been dominant down low, we’ve been playing with that confidence and playing, I think, just most of all with just using our willpower and that’s something that wasn’t there for myself tonight and I feel a couple of other guys. Like I said, it starts with myself, I’m supposed to be a leader and need to be way better than that.
AUSTON MATTHEWS (20:27 TOI)
On what the team can do to move forward:
I think it still allows us the opportunity to fix this ourselves. We’ve got to go out there and play. Obviously, the effort wasn’t there tonight and it’s only up to us to change that.
On if the difference between tonight and Thursday is bewildering:
It is. I think we took a big step forward, especially with the previous game, playing the same team, really good effort, obviously. You think you can kind of pick up on that momentum and you want to continue that and carry it into another game. Like you said, a tough week of games against tough opponents and it just wasn’t there tonight.
JOHN TAVARES (1 GOAL)
On if he’s ever seen anything like tonight’s game before in his career:
Certainly no. We obviously didn’t handle the circumstances of the game very well. Might have been our poorest night of execution. We seemed like the team that played last night and traveled. We were sloppy and I thought our execution was extremely low.
On the defensive job Carolina did once their second goaltender left the game:
They did a good job, no question they played hard. They’ve got good players, they’re a good hockey team but for the way we played I think we know it’s just unacceptable and not even close to good enough. We didn’t make it challenging at all and knowing once the goaltending situation happened they were going to block shots, they were going to make us have to come through five guys and work to get to the middle of the ice and we just didn’t even come close to making it hard on them that way.