Sheldon Cave addressed the media after his team lost 2-1 to the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals Series.
About the message to the team after the loss:
The words are hard to find. I just told them that they have a lot of reasons to be proud of the work they’ve done this season, which put us in a position to even play in this game tonight against an opponent like this.
There are plenty of reasons to be proud, yet there are plenty of reasons to be shocked and upset. We feel good about our efforts. I thought they gave us everything they had.
We’ve come short. We are in the winning business. We didn’t get it done.
About the difference in the game:
When the game is that close, it’s really hard to pinpoint. They found a way to achieve that second goal. Both goals they scored were kind of bang bang type play. The balls of the pucks are rather loose, and Paul shot them into the net.
I thought we had a couple of similar variations to that, particularly early in the game, and we didn’t take advantage of that. We did not pass up the opportunity.
Taking advantage of opportunities will be the difference. Both teams didn’t give each other much tonight. It’s hard to get offense from both directions. You kind of had a feeling it was going to be tight like this.
They managed to score the second goal.
Regarding the call that didn’t allow for Jon Tavares’ goal:
I don’t know. This is not on my mind right now.
On whether this loss looks different from the Columbus and Montreal series:
Yes, it is a different feeling. To be honest, it’s a little more painful. There was a lot of disappointment in our failure last season. It hurts even more because this was a really good team and they played really hard.
The fact that you approached this team… You can discuss the merits of what kind of credit you want to give our team, but I don’t know if you can discuss anything about Tampa Bay Lightning, who they are, what they stand for, and what they have accomplished.
We are right there standing with them. We had chances to finish them in the sixth game. We failed to do so. This shows that we were close to not only winning this series but who knows what happens from there in terms of our team’s faith after playing against a team of this caliber and finding a way…
It’s hard because I really feel like we’re a lot closer than it seems. A team of this caliber played… We’ll see how the rest of the playoffs go, but this team obviously has the recipe, and the players have figured it out.
On what the team can borrow from Lightning:
I think there are really things that we have borrowed from them over the past two seasons to build that goal. The most important thing I took away from the series..there are the obvious cuts, which are skill, attack, and they are dangerous people. But how do they defend as a team, how do they prioritize defense, how do they stick to blocking shots, how do they give you nothing …
They don’t get much credit because you don’t really think of them that way, but we knew getting into this series going into third periods against this team was going to be a challenge. They are the first team in the NHL when it comes to limiting chances against them when they reach a goal in the third inning. All regular season, they were.
This is kind of a hallmark of their success. This is the hockey tournament. They didn’t give us much in that third shift tonight. These are the things I remove: how hard they are to defend and how they prioritize defense.
On the team effort in the game:
I thought our guys pressed hard. I thought we played with confidence early on. I thought we had opportunities to move forward early. That first goal was really important for the audience and all the feedback we were going to get from there. We couldn’t take advantage of our chances.
There were not many events. Chances were few and far between for most of the match. In terms of our efforts and the pace of play in this series – in particular, the last few games – this is a great hockey game. It’s fast hockey. It is a competitive hockey game.
Our men stood and were there. We came from behind in games 5 and 6. And that says a lot about our team’s character to do that against a team as I’m talking about – they’re champions, and the hallmark of their team is how they defend and close the match. games.
We couldn’t do it a third time. Playing from the back tonight was tough.
On Jason Spiza losing a chance to win late in his career:
Spezz gives us his all all the time. We’ve talked about how he’s here. He’s a guy who doesn’t have time on his side in the league. He gave a lot to the game. He keeps working and is committed every day of his life to winning the Stanley Cup and helping our team find his way. You definitely feel for him.
In the meeting between him and John Cooper in the handshake line:
We will leave it. He and I will talk again. This is where we left it. We both just admitted it was a great series. It was very close. We’ve got a lot of respect in that line from their team, and it’s good to see.
It was a very different tone and respect from the other side than we had experienced before. We definitely earn respect in the league, but then again, we’re not in the respect game. We are in the winning game. We have to find a way to do that.
About when he will return to the office planning for next year:
Kyle and I will talk tomorrow and make a plan. We’ll have exit meetings with the players. I don’t expect any of this to happen tomorrow, but I will say on Monday, we’ll get back to it. I’ve already spoken to the coaches. Throughout the week we will be debriefing from this series. We’ll take it from there.