Sheldon Keefe addressed the media after his team’s 4-2 loss to the Winnipeg Jets to end the 2021 regular season at 35-14-7.
On whether the team achieved the main goal of getting through the game healthy:
I believe so, yes.
On how the team is going to use the time between now and Game 1 on Thursday:
We have a day off. We are going to get home real late tonight. It’s a day off tomorrow. We will get a couple of practice days in. We will squeeze in an offday again once we get into the week. We will have three real good on-ice days.
These types of weeks usually get crowded with meetings and discussions of that nature. This is a little bit different given we are playing an opponent we are very familiar with. The practices themselves will be important, and we will get things ramped up again.
The guys are excited to officially put an end to this regular season and get onto the next phase.
On preparing for an opponent the team has already seen so much of and balancing preparing vs. overloading the team with information:
It is always a balance for a coaching staff: to not give too much information to the players. We will try to find that proper balance. There are a lot of things we will focus on with our own game and just make sure we are ready to go ourselves.
Of course, we are going to have things that we will look at in relation to the opponent, but first and foremost, we want to make sure our game is right and that our guys are feeling good going in.
It is probably a little more time than you would like, but it is a manageable amount of time here. Two of the days are going to be full off days for our players to give coaches lots of time to sort through the information and make sure we are delivering the most appropriate pieces.
On Jason Spezza’s comments that this is a hungry group since it lost in the bubble to Columbus:
There are a lot of new faces here that are hungry for their own reasons, but just collectively as a team, we are committed to doing the things that are necessary to win. But so is our opponent. It is just a matter of staying with it and finding a level of consistency in our game when it gets hard — and it will get hard.
We are going to play against a Montreal team that is going to be refreshed and revived. They are going to have people back in their lineup. They are finally going to get a break and some time off here. They have had a very difficult schedule. We are going to see a much different-looking Montreal team when we play them again than what we just went through with them.
At the same time, I think our team is excited to compete and play. We will expect that we will have people coming into our lineup as well. We will be excited to play at the most exciting time of year.
On whether there is anything in the last two games that was a concern in regards to bad habits creeping in or if there were any positives to take away:
I don’t take too much out of anything that really went on in these two games other than getting some contributions… You look at a game like tonight, and you get two goals — one from Engvall and one from Mikheyev — that are good things for us.
I did think the power play moved the puck well and got a lot of things to the net today. Despite not having Mitch in, I thought they did a good job there. It would’ve been nice to get rewarded.
We are not overthinking anything that went on here in the last couple of games. It is more just a matter of getting through it healthy, and we have done that. We can all just turn the page and worry about Montreal.