After practice on Friday, Sheldon Keefe discussed the decision to place Nick Ritchie on waivers yesterday, Ondrej Kase’s status, and the challenge ahead of the team in Colorado on Saturday night.

Friday’s Practice Lines


Extra: Joey Anderson
Injured: Ondrej Kase


Extras: Biega, Liljegren 


Can you give us a timeline on Mitch Marner and Pierre Engvall?

Keefe: In terms of timeline, Mitch was positive yesterday. Pierre — I am not sure if his was today or yesterday. I am not certain on that. I think both have minor symptoms, I would say, at this point based on what I have been told and my exchanges with them. They’ll be fine.

The team has had a great stretch in the last 25 games or so. What has stood out about the resilience your group has shown after a tough start?

Keefe: I just think we have found a rhythm as a team. We got ourselves in sync. We have prioritized defending. That, in turn, made us better on offense. We found rhythm offensively and on our power play. Those kinds of things happened for us. We were really in a groove there.

With the break here now, there is obviously a significant disruption to that. That is where we are at now — just finding our way back to where we have had success and how we’ve played. I don’t think we have gotten there in the two games that we have played so far coming out of the break. We are going to have to find another level without question as we head out onto this road trip.

What does Nick Ritchie have to do to get himself into a spot where he is not in a place where he is placed on waivers again?

Keefe: First of all, he [was] on waivers, but it is not just a reflection on Nick. It is a lot to do with our situation with our team and the salary cap and all of those kinds of things. The decisions have to be made.

I think it is just a case of finding greater consistency and finding ways to impact the game, whether that is scoring or whether that is using his physicality and disrupting the game that way. That is really what you are looking for. That has really been the gist of the conversations that I have had with Nick throughout the season.

It is as much a reflection of where we are at with the salary cap rather than a reflection of how we feel about Nick. We have Nick and we also have some added flexibility on the roster. That helps us. We will just continue to work with him.

Nick has done what we have asked of him. We can’t and don’t fault his effort. It just hasn’t worked out the way that anybody had seen to this point. A lot of other people have stepped up and have really performed very well. That is part of it, too. Other guys have outplayed him.

When you decided to put him on waivers, how did the conversation go with Nick? Was it just with Kyle? How did Nick take the news?

Keefe: I am not involved in that decision or that discussion. I was informed that that was going to be the case yesterday, and that Kyle was going to handle it and talk to him. That is really that.

When these types of things go on, it is a management decision. My job is to coach the players. We were prepared to play tomorrow as if he was still going to be with us.

Colorado has won 16 of their last 20 games. What are you thinking about the challenge going into tomorrow night?

Keefe: We are going to go into a game tomorrow back in front of a full building. It has been almost a month since that has been the case. We are playing against a very good team. The way that we have played in the two games since coming back from the break is not going to cut it on this road trip. It is certainly not going to cut it on Saturday against Colorado.

We have to play a lot more connected with a lot more urgency. We have to raise our level — the intensity level. The stress of being on the road and the fans — what that provides, we have to get back to that level. We can’t be easing into it.

Colorado is a team that comes at you in waves. They come early. We have to be prepared for that. It doesn’t get much easier from there.

We have to be prepared, certainly, on Saturday, but also, if you look ahead, it is six games at least that are going to be consecutive on the road. We will take them one at a time.

This Colorado team is a very good team. They have been an elite team in the league for a number of years now. They are firing on all cylinders. We have a great deal of respect for the skill and offense that they produce and how they can break teams open. We have to be prepared defensively.

Ondrej Kase skated before practice but didn’t join the main group. What is the update on his status?

Keefe: No real update other than it continuing to be day to day. We are not expecting him to be available for tomorrow at this point. He is going to travel with us and continue to progress. We will just have to monitor that.

With how crazy the schedule has been and how well Jack Campbell has played, how do you find times to work in Petr Mrazek over the next couple of weeks?

Keefe: We are going to have to see. We will take it a day at a time here.

Jack is going to play tomorrow in Colorado.  We have a back-to-back coming up on this trip with Vegas and Arizona. We will look at splitting the goaltenders there and see how that shakes out.

Really, throughout the rest of January, as our schedule sits right now with the exception of that back-to-back, we have two days in between every game, which was pretty much unheard for us in the early going of our schedule.

There is going to be lots of opportunity there for Jack. Certainly, we are not forgetting about Petr.  We need to get him back going for sure. The schedule will heat up eventually. That is just not the case here currently. He is going to have to bide his time and wait for those opportunities to come.