Sheldon Keefe addressed the media after his team’s 6-3 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes, dropping the team’s record to 32-23-8 on the season.
On a massive setback after the comprehensive win over Pittsburgh on Thursday:
It is a tough one. It is going to be a tough one for us to regroup from. It is going to take a little time. Obviously, it’s disappointing given the way it went for us the other day. We thought we had put together a process and a good model for what we wanted to look like and how we could have success. I thought, at five on five, our first period was fine. I thought, really, our special teams were the real issue — perhaps signs of what was to come in terms of especially our power play. I just thought our execution was so poor. It was a sign that our best players just weren’t having a good night. I think that was more of what was to come in the second and third.
We get out of the first period up 1-0. At five on five, I thought we carried play pretty good, especially in the back half of it. We got a good start from our third and fourth lines and the energy and pace that they had. We were just not able to sustain it. Special teams, once again — this time our power play, and obviously, the penalty kill didn’t get great results. Our power play has a chance to really make a mark in the game and it really failed to do so.
On whether the team was instructed to shoot more than it did on David Ayres:
I didn’t. I think the reality is the game just stayed the same. We got a couple of shots and they went in. I think their D hurt his shoulder, so they lost their coverage and allowed John to turn the corner and get a good shot. When the goalie switched happened, I talked to the team and said, “If we don’t change how we are playing, they don’t even need a goalie.” There were no chances, no shots, and they didn’t even need a goaltender with the way the game was going.
Credit to them. I think we missed pretty well a near-empty net at the buzzer at the end of the second period. We could have made it 4-4 going into the third. Really, we just gifted them two at the start of the third, and then it is game over from there. They competed hard and they were above us, really, the entire game. We just continued to pass into it. Our execution was poor. The way we moved the puck was very poor and disorganized. From an execution standpoint from our best people especially, it was a real tough night — one we haven’t seen from them, really, since I’ve been here.
On his relationship with David Ayres:
Great. He has great energy. He comes to the rink every day and just wants to work and be a part of it. Whether it is with the Marlies or with the Leafs, he is always there when you need him. There is probably not an emergency goaltender who has seen as many pro shots as this guy. He is in pretty much every day getting work. It feels pretty terrible given that he is on the other side today from our end of it, but on a personal note, you can’t help but feel pretty darn good for the guy.
On Mitch Marner describing his own performance as “dog shit” and how the team can respond now:
It is just what we talked about before. It is another embarrassing night. Embarrassing nights shock the system a little bit, and we are a prideful team. I think this team 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 today. Part of it is them. They put pressure on us and they were above us. Like you saw on our power play, we couldn’t connect on passes today. The execution was really poor. If you’ve got a team that works the way that they do and you’re not connecting, it makes it really difficult to get anything going positively.
Defensively, I thought as a unit, our six D had as tough of a night as they’ve had in quite some time. That is a bad combination for us.
On how the Hurricanes adjusted in the third period and shut the team down in front of the emergency backup:
There is a lot of focus on the goalie, of course, but they were dominating us before the switch happened. The game just stayed the same. You’ve got to get through five people to get 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 game in the pipes. The game was the same. They just continued to play hard the way that they did before. We couldn’t get to him.
On Tyson Barrie’s status after the ugly hit in the first period:
From what I know, he is okay. Obviously, he came back, so… yeah.
On the timing of a performance like this right before the trade deadline:
I am not the General Manager, so I am not sure that any decision should or would be made on any one game or any one week.