Sheldon Keefe addressed the media after his team’s 4-2 win in the pre-playoff exhibition game.
On Nick Robertson’s performance:
I thought he had some great sequences. It was good to see him play with some confidence with the puck and just move his feet and work. I’m not sure where his ice time ended up today, but I thought he had some shifts where he was noticeable in a positive way. That’s good to see.
On whether it can be assumed Robertson will be in the Game 1 lineup:
We are going to continue to digest all of this here over the next few days. We will make that decision. I wouldn’t make any assumptions on Nick or some of the other positions on our lineup. We just haven’t made the decisions ourselves.
We are going to talk about it. By the time Sunday comes around, it will be clear and ready to go.
On what the team was able to translate from camp into the exhibition game:
I thought that we moved our feet really well today. Defensively, I thought that was a big thing for us. We want to make sure that we are really working and skating and having urgency coming back to our end. I thought that was a really good sign for our team.
There were a number of times we came back. I thought we gave up the neutral zone at times a little too easily, but I liked how we worked. We ended up breaking up some plays in and around our net because of the work we had coming back.
That was really good. I will have to look at the video a lot closer to really see some of the details, but I thought the work was positive.
On the atmosphere in the fan-less arena:
What stood out were two different things. First of all, the anthem was probably the moment where, for me, it was the most noticeable that there were no fans in attendance. During the anthem is a time when you are looking at the flag and you are kind of taking in the whole environment during that anthem. It was much different than what you were accustomed to. It is a time when you really feel the moment and are really missing the fans and environment and recognize what they bring.
I thought once the puck dropped, at least from my perspective, it really just felt like hockey and we didn’t really notice it a whole lot. I am not sure how the players felt about it. When Kerfoot scored his goal and he wasn’t sure if it went in the net, there was, of course, no crowd reaction. That was the only time, I think, that there were some comments on the bench that the fans would’ve called that one in for us.
Otherwise, it surprised me, frankly, just how the game was being played and you didn’t really notice all of that other stuff.
On what having a fully healthy Morgan Rielly means to the team:
It means a lot. He really did skate well today. There were a couple of times the puck kind of bobbled on him and got away from him and things like that, but Mo is at this best when he is flying up the rink and joining the rush and playing with authority. Talking to him, he is feeling as good as he’s felt from a health standpoint, and he looked like it today with how he skated. He got rewarded with a goal, and that’s great to see.
If you were looking at what you would want to come out of this game for someone like Mo, it’s the confidence to be up and skating and pushing the pace. The way that he moves and joins the rush and also the reward of the goal is a really positive thing for him and us.
On the success of the penalty kill and having to use it five times:
I liked a lot about it. With the penalty kill, it is something you have to watch back closely to see some of the details and the things that are going on. I liked the pressure that we have. I thought we had a lot of good clears and exits. We didn’t spend a great deal of time in our end, which is good.
We scored a couple of shorthanded goals, so obviously, that is very positive. We gave up the one goal that happened just as we came out of the box.
But I thought we had some terrific efforts from Clifford and Kapanen, in particular. They were really good today. We were looking to get Kerfoot more involved in our penalty kill and he has been very positive all through the camp and today was really good. Those two guys carried on to five on five play as well.
It was as good as we have seen Kerfoot play, and that’s a really healthy sign for our team, obviously. If we can get Kappy and Kerf playing like they were today, it makes us a tough team to handle. That’s really good for us.