Following the Game One loss, Coach Cooper and assorted players answered questions from the media. No one seemed overly rattled by the thumping as they maintained the “don’t get too high when you win and too low when you lose” vibe that they’ve had over the last couple of postseasons. They believe, like Coach Cooper states, that they “have better” in them.
Responses have been edited for clarity.
Not taking advantage of the early power plays:
“Yeah, it clearly didn’t help. I’ll tip our cap to the power play of the last few weeks here. It’s been dominant and I think when we kind of let the seven minutes of power play time slide there and not only not do anything with it, but give them chance after chance, probably a little bit of frustration set in there that we didn’t need to put upon ourselves. I think when you’re used to getting on the power play and going to center ice after you scored at some point maybe we thought it’s a right that it was just going to happen again. Toronto had other ideas so give them credit first and foremost. Do we have better in us? Yes.
I think in a Game One, would you love for all of that power play time? Yes. When you don’t do something with it, it can be a game of momentum and it clearly swung in their direction after that.”
Did you challenge Jack Campbell enough?
“Well, Joe, when you asking that question I’m pretty sure you know your own answer.”
On frustration creeping in:
There’s no question. The frustration was out of not scoring on the power play. That’s where the frustration came from. We’re better than that to challenge our energy knowing that, in the grand scheme of things, if you go 1-for-5 on a power play all year you’ve had a pretty decent power play. You’re not going to go 5-for-5 especially in a playoff game when everybody is at the peak or height of their effort and concentration. We’re better than that and we let it get the best of us.”
The level of officiating:
“I think there is a little too much made of , I think I heard the word ‘violent’ was thrown around today, and it’s like, c’mon. So maybe that gets in guy’ ears and [they] keep control of a series that hasn’t even started yet. But there were dumb penalties taken both ways. Both teams were dumb and the refs called them. Maybe there were some they didn’t, but it wasn’t their fault, they were calling what was laid in front of them. I think both teams are probably shaking their heads about the amount of penalties each team took. To answer your question I think there was a little heightened awareness coming into the series.”
Turning the page:
“We have to stay tuned and see, Joe. This is a group that has show a lot of resiliency in the last three years. Even when we got knocked out in the first round it took some resiliency to get back into the playoffs and to do what we’ve done the last two years. It’s no guarantee because of our history, but we can definitely draw from it. I have upmost confidence in our group.”
[Cross talk, unable to clearly hear the question]
“No, not really. I’m not sure the Leafs had to play particularly well to beat us tonight. You’ve got to win four, you don’t want to give teams any freebies and we probably gave them a little bit of a freebie tonight. It was hard to judge either team tonight.”
“Yeah, I think so.
Victor Hedman and Steven Stamkos
The most frustrating part about the game:
[Stamkos]: “Well, listen. They came out and played a really good game. Sometimes you’ve got to give the other team credit. Probably a big momentum swing early on. We had a couple of power plays, obviously the five minute one, and it was just...some plays that were clicking the last stretch of the season were hitting a stick, hitting a skate. At the same time they did a good job of executing on those P.K.s early and they gained some momentum. It could have been a really different game if we had scored early on on that. So that was a missed opportunity for us.”
How did the officiating impact their play?
[Hedman]: “I think they made the right calls on pretty much every single,
one both ways. I thought they had a great game. We got to play by the standard that they set. They were calling both ways and [we] didn’t affect anything. I thought they called a good game.”
Toronto’s agressive play on the penalty kill:
[Stamkos]: “Come this time of the year there’s going to be some adjustments in game so we’ll watch the film, we’ll adjust. It’s going to be a long series. We didn’t do our job, we wanted to come in and take Game One. They did it. So now, anytime you start on the road you want to get a split. Obviously we have to play a lot better next game.”
On the skirmishes in the third period:
[Stamkos, with a smile]” “It’s just playoff hockey.”
On the early power plays:
“We take a lot of pride in being good on special teams and we just weren’t sharp executing-wise and they had a lot of looks. We’re just as confident that if they get the opportunity again, they’ll come through for us.”
On the 5v5 play:
“It’s tough to kind of digest here. There was a lot of penalties in the game so there were a lot of stoppages and what not. Certainly we need to get back to what our identity is here as far as keeping the puck out of our net and let out offense come from that. They had some odd-man [rushes] and some breakaways. That’s not winning hockey. We’ll look at things and be better in Game Two.
If Toronto did anything to surprise them:
On the uncharacteristic type of play:
“It’s something we talk about a lot - playing well when the puck is on our sticks and being in good structure when it’s not. We definitely need to get out pace back here and be on top of them a little bit more.”
On bouncing back:
“Yeah, we’re going to have to here. We’ll look at things, go about out process the way we do every time and, like I said, try to have a better start and carry that through the rest of the game.”