On an off day on Thursday, Paul Maurice discussed the latest on Ryan Lomberg’s injury recovery, whether his team is thinking back to Boston forfeiting their 3-1 series lead, and Brandon Montour’s huge minutes in Game 4.
Any updates on the injury front?
Maurice: Nothing. Lomberg is back on the ice. That is a positive for us. I don’t really have a timeline. It was more healing than anything else. It is not that whenever he feels good, he plays. The doc has to give us the green light. But he is back on the ice, and that is a really good sign.
He is not limited. It is not like he is skating around with no blade because he can’t touch the puck. He is doing all things.
Our loudness level went up with him. The room is louder. The plane will be louder. We will get that. It is good to have him back.
Your team has had a lot of success on the road in these playoffs, especially lately. What do you like about your team’s approach to these away games?
Maurice: I don’t feel a difference at all. There is something nice, especially in the playoffs, about being on the road. It is that kind of cocooned feeling. Everyone else in the building is not cheering for you. It is just you.
There is also the simplicity to your game, right? We are not selling tickets on the road here. We are just here for the points. Just play the game.
You can use the energy in the building. You are going to leave the game a lot of times feeling as though they had better chances than you did. Anything that crosses the line, they are losing it. The fans are going crazy. It is a little quieter at the other end when you get something going.
There is certainly a sense of togetherness on the road.
Matthew Tkachuk was talking about how loose the team is on the bench. Nothing seems to faze him. As a coach, in terms of your demeanour with us, is it something where you try to keep everything light?
Maurice: It would be half the story. It isn’t just for these playoffs. It is for how we perform. We judge ourselves by how hard we are to play against and by how hard we play. That is a very serious matter. If it is not there, it is not all giggles. But you have to be able to enjoy it.
First of all, when I come out to deal with the media, none of you are on my team. You guys didn’t do anything wrong. And if we won, I am not buying you dinner.
I am not trying to give you a message of what my room is like. I am not trying to create a brand for myself or my team. I am not working the team through the media to send messages. I will walk into the room and just do it face-to-face in there.
I am maybe more relaxed with the media than other guys, but it shouldn’t tell you what the tone of our meeting was today. I am not telling you that, right? We are serious about the matters that are important to us. Very serious. There is not a lot of joking around. Not a lot of the video is nice on those days.
We are just learning. We just have to deal with what we have to get better at. That is what this is all about. Every game, you have to get a little bit better. Take something that worked well for you, make sure you reinforce it, and deal with the things that weren’t good that you have to eliminate from your game. And then enjoy the hell out of it.
If your team is working its ass off, on the bench, whether they are laughing… If there is more supportive chirping and positive energy on the bench, that is a really good thing. It keeps them connected. They’ll stay in the fight longer.
Your team was in the same situation that the Maple Leafs are in now in the first round against Boston down 3-1. Does being in that situation and coming back from that give you guys a sense of urgency knowing it is very possible for a team to come back from this kind of deficit? Does it keep the urgency up?
Maurice: I don’t think it factors in at all. I understand the question, why you would ask it, and how it is related to the last series. But we have a certain mindset built that is not related to those things. It won’t be, “Hey, we can’t do what Boston did.” That won’t be part of our day.
We are going to Toronto to play as hard as we can. We want to play a little better than we did last game and fix some things. If we don’t, it doesn’t really matter if you win the series or not. If you don’t learn and get better, you are not winning anyway.
I thought we had a real improvement in our game between Game 4 and Game 5 against Boston. It is something that wasn’t quite great in Game 4 [vs. Toronto]. We can get better at that.
Brandon Montour played over 29 minutes in Game 4. Is it something you monitor at all? Is it a concern whatsoever?
Maurice: Going into the game last night, he had played one game in five days. He is a freakishly fit guy. I ran those guys the first five days of camp as hard as you can — almost looking to break or push them right to the point of breaking. He was fine.
He is one of those unusual athletes. His recovery is freakish. If he takes a long, heavy shift, 30 seconds later, he is truly ready to go back out. Would I want him in the 30s on non-OT games on consecutive nights going into six in seven? I still wouldn’t be worried about it, but it wouldn’t be something I am shooting for.
There are three games left in the series. We are not managing ice time now.