Post-game reaction from the players following the Leafs’ big 4-2 win over the Boston Bruins on Monday night.
Game In Six
James van Riemsdyk
Have you seen from some of the young guys learning lessons on the fly here?
JVR: Yeah, definitely. I think at this time of year the details are so important. I think the coaching staff is doing a good job of hammering home those details; not just with the young guys, but with everyone. It should be second nature for all of us by now. I think you see the smart plays where we’re making sure we’re getting pucks out of our own end and making sure, at their blue line, we’re not turning pucks over. We’re getting them deep. We’re making sure we’re throwing a lot of pucks on net. Little things like that go a long way. We’re taking care of those details.
You worked hard tonight. Backside pressure seemed to be an extra concerted effort tonight. Typical of the entire team tonight?
JVR: Yeah, definitely. I think it’s something that we’ve been talking about every game. It helps feed into our transition game. We can have that tight gap between our forwards backtracking and our D up on their forwards. It creates some turnovers and let’s us play on the rush and go back the other way.
Did we get an idea of just what a weapon the Toronto power play is if given a chance in a game as tight as this?
JVR: Definitely. I think both units have been clicking pretty good all year. To get an opportunity like that at the end of a game is pretty huge. We’re confident in both of our units. To get a chance to do that and to come through is pretty cool.
How close is it getting to that kind of playoff-like feel right now?
JVR: I would say the last two games definitely have that sort of feel. There is not much room out there. The time you can get your stick on a puck, within the hashmarks at their net, is few and far between. You’ve really got to bear down on your chances and make sure you’re taking care of your defensive responsibilities, waiting for your chance to get an opportunity and go from there.
Can you gauge just the differences between the two teams as close as they are? You get a chance to sweep them in a series. It’s quite an accomplishment, James.
JVR: I didn’t realize that, but obviously they’ve been a good team since I got in the league. That’s always a measuring stick game, especially in our division. You’re going to have to deal with them at some point throughout the year. So that’s a good thing.
Did you see guys learning?
Komarov: Yeah, you learn every day. We’ve got a lot of young guys and they did really good. They’re impressive so far and I think they’re going to just learn and learn.
Is there a fine line playing the way you want to play and not putting your team in a position where you might be shorthanded, Leo?
Komarov: Uh, yeah. I mean, our line plays tough. We’ve got a tough line against us every night. It’s tough. You need to play by the rules and sometimes maybe a hit or something gets you a couple of minutes, but it’s nothing you’re trying to do.
Did you enjoy the challenge of going up against Marchand?
Komarov: Yeah, I mean he’s a great player. He’s dangerous out there, so it’s tough to play against him. He loves to talk and I love to talk. We were made for each other.
When you were talking on the bench, was it X-rated, or?
Komarov: It was just like, how’s his day going. It was nothing brutal. It’s a hockey game. He’s a great guy.
Were you mad when Bergeron went into Andersen?
Komarov: No, I pushed him in. I just needed a small break there and gave him a couple of hugs. That’s the game. That’s how we play.
What are you seeing with this club? Two of the games played in the last three games against Chicago and Boston. Consistency from game to game?
Komarov: Yeah. We’re playing good. The other teams are playing really good, too. You can see there is no space out there and it’s tough. Not too many goals. I think Bozie scored a really good goal today, so we got a couple of minutes to rest here and it’s good for us.
On matching up against Bergeron:
Kadri: It’s tough. Bergeron is pretty good in the faceoff circle, so he started with the puck a lot. Just try to get in front of your guy. Good box outs, allow Andie to see shots, and clog up the neutral zone as much as possible. I felt like collectively we did a good job with that.
Do you kind of see the evolving maturity of the team in these last two games? Both have been really tight.
Kadri: Yeah, that’s how it’s going to go for the last 11-12 games here. It’s that type of playoff hockey where one or two mistakes could cost you the game. You’re not going to see too much open ice out there. It’s important, when you get those chances, to capitalize on them.
Morgan was saying this morning that it was essentially a must-win if you wanted to catch them. You come through with the two points. How big of a confidence booster is a win like this?
Kadri: It’s massive, especially to do it in the fashion we did – regulation. They had a pretty solid road game; had that penalty at the end there and we capitalized. I think, what was it, two minutes left in the period? I think that’s a little bit deflating for them, but like I said, good teams capitalize on their scoring chances and that’s what we did.
5-1-1 since the California road trip. What does that speak to the club’s resilience when you need to win and win consistently?
Kadri: For sure. That was really the key point. Going and getting one out of the six points on the west coast swing there was kind of a tough bounce for us. We knew we played some good hockey; just didn’t get the bounces we wanted to. We came back to Toronto, put in the work, and now it’s starting to pay off.
Do you go as your goaltender goes, Nazem?
Kadri: Hands down. Freddie has been a catalyst for us since day one. In order for us to make this push, we’re going to need him to stay strong. He’s done nothing but that.
What’s it like to play in a game like that? It seems the club has been playing in quite a few of them since you came back from California.
Andersen: Yeah, it’s a lot of fun. Great way to come out for the third. Kind of took it to them. Got to keep playing until the end of the game and get that game-winning goal with three minutes left.
Did the team support each other and the puck well in the defensive zone, do you think?
Andersen: I think we did all right. Obviously, our game plan is to get out of the zone as quick as possible. The more we can do that, the better it looks and the more we can spend in their zone.
How did it feel to get a good late goal for your team as opposed to some of the heartbreakers you’ve had lately?
Andersen: We haven’t really had it go our way a lot when it comes down to those last minutes in overtime. It definitely feels nice to be on the winning side, especially against a big team like this. A big game; a four-point game.
You’re 8-0 in your career against Boston. Any reason for that, one way or the other?
Andersen: I don’t know. It’s tough to say. Sometimes it just ends up going that way. We’ve been in tight games every time. It’s always a lot of fun playing the best. It’s one of those things. I’ve been on the right side of some bounces, maybe.
Obviously, nothing is accomplished yet, but if you had lost this game in regulation, you probably would’ve forgotten about getting to third place. Now, it’s game on, isn’t it?
Andersen: Yeah. Like I said, four-point swing and we were on the right side of that. We have a chance to catch them now. We’ll see. There is still a lot of hockey to be played. If we keep playing well… we want to go into the playoffs. That’s what’s most important.
Is it a different feeling not having the clock working for the first two periods? Were you looking up at all and wondering how much time is left?
Andersen: It’s actually a lot of fun. You don’t think about the time; you just play. It’s like you’re a kid out in the street. You just play until it gets dark. We were waiting for the lights to go off in there. Yeah, I guess they got it fixed for the last period. It’s something you don’t want to be dealing with, but when it happens, you just deal with it.
When the game is that physical, how do you keep your cool? There was that stick to the face. It looked like it was getting aggressive from their side.
Andersen: Yeah, they obviously wanted to go to the net and make something happen. I got caught up high with the stick real quick, but I got back in the play, so that’s fine.
Is there anything you’ve worked on to kind of stay out of the moment in those situations?
Andersen: You don’t want to lose your cool. You always want to keep focused on your task and that’s to stop the puck.
On his 1-1 goal:
Rielly: Mitch gave me a great pass. Credit to him. I mean, when I saw he had control of the puck, I never had any doubt that he was going to get it to me. That’s the kind of player he is. Yeah, great pass.
Was there a yell or anything?
Rielly: Ha, no, we made eye contact. After that, you don’t have to worry about it.
It was 4 on 4. We enjoy 3 on 3. 4 on 4 is pretty good, too, isn’t it?
Rielly: Yeah, they both work, especially with players like Mitch and Auston and Willy. They make it interesting and they make great plays. Tonight, we were on the winning side of it.
What stood out about the club’s d-zone play, below the red line along the boards, that enabled it to be consistent tonight?
Rielly: Yeah, it was good. I think we were able to clog up the middle. They’ve got some guys that like to wind it up and get some speed going like Marchand and Pastrnak. It’s good to clog up the middle, keep them to the outside. You’ve got your goalie to take it from there. I thought Freddie was outstanding, as usual, tonight. We’re going to move on and just try to build off a big win.
How encouraging is it that a team with as much skill as you have can kind of grind out a win, too, as the game goes on?
Rielly: We’ve had moments where we haven’t exactly done that, but I think we’ve learned from them and we’ve gotten better as the year has gone on. You know, when you come down the stretch and you’re playing these important games late in the season, you learn a lot. This is where you learn how to win. We did a good job tonight of hanging on and getting a big two points for us.
Are you seeing a little more consistency night to night in that regard?
Rielly; Yeah, I think so. I think that’s all part of it. I think, when you look at the chances we were able to generate in October and November and we were getting lots of goals and winning high-scoring games, it’s now not as back and forth. I think we’re able to win closer games just because we’ve learned a lot this year. We’ve come a long way. Consistency is a big part of that.
You guys weren’t sort of shying away from the importance of this game this morning. To be able to come out and win a game as important as this in the standings, what does it do for the morale of the club?
Rielly: It’s a big boost. Like I’ve been saying, each game from now until the end of the season is big for us. There are big points at stake every single night. When you’re playing a team within your division or conference, it’s even that much bigger. We knew the importance of the game tonight. We came out and we answered the bell and got a big win. That’s a good sign for us.