Sheldon Keefe addressed the media after his team’s 6-3 win over the New York Rangers on Friday night, improving the Leafs’ record to 18-14-4 on the season.
On the team’s performance:
We’ve talked about in some of the previous games where the third periods haven’t gone well that the second period was maybe when some of the issues started to come up. I thought some of the positives of the second period — which I thought there were lots — carried through to the third period. Obviously, we got a good start and the puck went in the net for us — that helped — but there were a lot of really good signs for our team in terms of how we retained the puck, which I thought was a real key to this game in particular. When their team has the puck, they’re a tough team to deal with. I thought we handled that well.
On the team not getting discouraged after giving up the lead heading into the third:
The message was just to keep going and stay with it. That was the challenge for us. The guys did and it worked out for us.
On what he has noticed with William Nylander recently:
I talked with them. We actually met this morning. He didn’t feel like he had a great trip out West in particular. He said he just didn’t feel good and he didn’t feel right. But I liked his practice and the work he had done back in Toronto. He was excited to get back and playing. We talked about some things, but really, I thought he had a much better game here today and got rewarded for it.
On whether there was something he noticed today about what made Nylander so effective:
There were times today where he was doing that — he has the puck a lot in the offensive zone. Guys come and try to get it from him and he is evading that. He is hanging onto the puck. He is really difficult to knock off the puck. That is where I really see his game rounding out. A lot of it is because of how he protects the puck. When it is not going well for him, those pucks get off his stick too quickly.
On Michael Hutchinson starting tomorrow and the team needing to build on tonight’s win in the back-to-back tomorrow:
We do, and we also have something to build on in terms of the last back-to-back. I know Hutch wasn’t in the net and Freddy was, but for me, still until today, that is the best game that we have played, in my opinion, since I’ve been here — just in terms of how competitive we were. I know we didn’t win the game. We didn’t give up very much to a very rested and very good Colorado team. It’s just how because of how we competed and how committed we were. We are going to be tapping into that in addition to the good things that came out of today.
On his satisfaction level with a 9-4-0 start to his coaching tenure:
Satisfaction is not a good word. We are going to be in a battle all season long here, right? Other teams just keep winning games. It is a tough league, obviously. I know that. We just have to continue to focus every single day on being our best and making improvements along the way.
On where he has seen the biggest improvements through 13 games:
We’ve seen progress for sure, and I like that. Even at times when it hasn’t looked the greatest, we are still seeing progress. Today was a different type of day. We score early again. The game gets away from us. It is even going into the third period, but then we get the lead. I thought we did a pretty good job of taking care of it. There is progress, and that’s really what you are looking for.
Raptors’ Powell to return vs. Hornets; Ibaka, VanVleet out with injury – Sportsnet.ca
The Toronto Raptors will be without Serge Ibaka and Fred VanVleet when they take on the Charlotte Hornets on Friday, however Norman Powell will make his return from injury, Raptors coach Nick Nurse said before the game.
Nurse also stated that Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Powell will start in place of VanVleet and Ibaka.
Ibaka was previously listed as doubtful due to right knee soreness. He struggled in Toronto’s loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday, finishing with five points on an abysmal 2-for-15 shooting, including a 1-for-10 mark from three-point range.
Overall, the 30-year-old has enjoyed one of the best seasons of his career in 2019-20. He’s averaging a career-best 15.9 points to go along with 8.0 rebounds per game.
VanVleet had not previously been on the injury report, however he is also listed as out due to left shoulder pain.
The 26-year-old is averaging 17.6 points and 6.6 assists per game in 48 appearances this year.
Powell, who hasn’t played since Jan. 31 due to a fractured fourth metacarpal on his left hand, figures to shoulder a heavy minutes load right off the bat due to VanVleet’s absence.
Earlier this season, Powell also missed a stretch of 11 games after dislocating his shoulder.
Through 38 games this year, the 26-year-old is averaging a career-high 15.3 points and 3.9 rebounds per game.
The Raptors will also be without Marc Gasol, who continues to be sidelined with a left hamstring injury.
Zamboni driver turned NHL goalie David Ayres given his own hockey card – CTV News
The Toronto-area Zamboni driver who became famous after suiting up at the last minute for the Carolina Hurricanes has now been awarded a hockey card in his honour.
David Ayres, a 42-year-old from Whitby, Ont., joined the Hurricanes as an emergency goalie on Saturday after both their regular goalies left the game due to injury. Ayres went on to make eight saves on 10 shots to help the Hurricanes beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-3.
Since the win, Ayres has become an internet sensation, leading to appearances on the TODAY show and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, to name a few. He was went to Raleigh, N.C., where he celebrated “David Ayres Day” in the city by signing autographs from Hurricanes fans and ringing the “siren sounder” before the game.
The stick Ayres used in the game has also been sent to the Hockey Hall of Fame, due to the fact he is now the oldest goalie to win in their NHL debut and the only emergency goalie to ever record an official win in the league.
Ayres’ 15 minutes of fame is not yet over, however, as the trading card company Upper Deck has created a hockey card in his name.
“When we saw the moment, we were blown away by how special it was,” Chris Carlin, head of customer experience at Upper Deck, said in a phone interview with CTVNews.ca.
Ayers is featured in Upper Deck’s “Game Dated Moments” collection, which are cards unveiled on a weekly-basis that highlight notable performances from the past week. Ayres’ card features him standing in the Hurricanes’ net, wearing the team’s jersey and Maple Leafs equipment, while the back of the card tells the story of the game.
Other cards in Ayres’ pack include an Alexander Ovechkin card highlighting his 700th career goal and one about Los Angeles Kings forward Gabriel Vilardi, who scored his first NHL goal just 10 seconds into his first shift.
Carlin said the cards for each week are chosen based on fan requests and that calls for an Ayers card were “like something we’ve never seen before.” It’s already one of their top-performing weekly designs.
“We knew it was a special moment, so it was important for us to dedicate all the resources we had to acquiesce to our fans,” he said.
“There is surprisingly huge demand for a 42-year-old rookie.”
Creating the card didn’t come without its own challenges, however. Because Ayres is not a member of the NHL Players Association, Upper Deck had to secure a deal with Ayres directly for permission to make the card.
“I was surprised myself that we were able to get this done in three days,” Carlin said. “Our window is so tight on these ‘Game Dated Moments’ cards that it’s really a tough one to get done. It’s not the hardest thing to go out and get an image rights deal with someone, but to get it done within three days is pretty much unheard of.”
Carlin said Ayres will also have a “Young Guns” rookie card in his name, which is set for release in mid-May and some autographed cards at a later date.
“We disputed perhaps calling it an ‘old guns’ given his age, because typically the players are anywhere from 18 to 20,” he joked.
Carlin added certain versions of Ayers’ rookie card will only be printed 10 or 100 times, meaning they could hold some serious value.
Oilers' Green (sprained MCL) out 3-4 weeks – TSN
EDMONTON — Newly acquired Edmonton Oilers defenceman Mike Green will miss three to four weeks with a knee injury.
The Oilers announced Friday that Green has a sprained MCL. He was hurt in a loss against Vegas on Wednesday.
The Oilers acquired Green in a trade with the Detroit Red Wings early Monday, hours before the NHL’s trade deadline.
Green was playing his second game with the Oilers when he suffered the injury.
The 34-year-old Calgary native has three goals and eight assists in 50 combined games with Detroit and Edmonton this season.
According to TSN’s Ryan Rishaug, Kailer Yamamoto and Kris Russell will be game-time decisions tomorrow after being re-evaluated. Both players took regular reps in practice.
Trade deadline acquisition Andreas Athanasiou, who left last game with a lower-body injury, is good to go. James Neal skated but is still a ways away from playing and defenceman Oscar Klefbom didn’t skate with the main group.
Zack Kassian returns tomorrow from a seven-game suspension and Mike Smith is expected to start on Saturday against the Winnipeg Jets.
The Oilers (33-23-8) entered Friday night’s action holding the third and final playoff spot in the Pacific Division.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 28, 2020.
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