Sheldon Keefe addressed the media after his team’s 4-0 win in Game 4 that put the Montreal Canadiens on the brink of elimination.
On the team’s depth scoring:
Scoring, defending, checking — all the way through the lineup, the guys dug down here today. These back-to-backs are tough. It is tough on the opposition as well, but it doesn’t make it any easier on the body and the mental part of it. I thought a lot of guys were better today than yesterday even, so it was really good. A lot of great efforts all the way through.
On how Alex Galchenyuk handled the scratch in Game 1:
He handled himself very well, not surprisingly. He has been great since he has come into the organization. It wasn’t easy having that conversation with him. He had played well. He had come a long way. He had certainly contributed to our team success. That conversation was not an easy one for me just because he had worked so hard and had performed well for us.
I did reassure him that he was going to play and be an important part of it. Whether it was performance, injury, or what have you, he was going to get in. I didn’t think it would take him long to get in. That is the way it happened.
He has stayed with it and stayed ready. I think he has gotten better each and every game. Obviously, he was a major difference-maker tonight for us.
On Galchenyuk changing the narrative with his buy-in, drive, and desire after so many stops around the league:
You just used the two words “drive” and “desire.” I was going to go with passion. Since he has been here, he has worked extremely hard. He has been very respectful of the process, first of all, with having to go down to play in the American league, work with skills development and skating coaches down there, and play in the AHL and do a good job. The reports that came out of the AHL were nothing but positive. That is not always the case for guys that have had a lot of time in the NHL and have succeeded in the NHL.
He has handled himself extremely well. He just has a great passion for the game. He has fit in really well. He has earned the respect of his teammates through the attitude he has brought, the work ethic, and how he has played on the ice, most importantly. The guys like having him around. He is an important part of our team. A night like tonight is a good example of why.
On the decision to bring Adam Brooks and Travis Dermott in and their performances:
Brooks, obviously, has played very well with Thornton and Spezza. That was part of it. Just having a guy who hasn’t played here — I know Nash hasn’t played much, either — for quite a while, I thought he could give us some good legs and energy today and really help that line.
In terms of Dermott, he is another guy who has played a lot of hockey for us, has played well, and has played a role in our success through the regular season. It was another difficult discussion I had with him in terms of him not playing to start the series but needing to stay ready.
It is the fourth game in six days for us here — four very challenging games. These games are played at a higher level than the previous ones that happened in the regular season. I just thought I was confident we would be able to play with the lead again tonight. I thought having another guy who was fresh — and who I know Dave Hakstol trusts on the ice to defend and can play against any line — would benefit the group today.
On the team’s dominance of the second periods in the series:
Hard to really put a finger on it. We stress the second period and the importance of it. I think there are some advantages there when you start talking about the long change. The long change does change the game a little bit in terms of the flow of it and the structure. There is a lot more space on the ice because of the line changes. People generally have to leave structure to get off of the ice.
It changes it a little bit. That is an opening for us to really get going. First and third periods are difficult at this time of year, especially. The structure is generally in place. You have to come through groups of five people quite often. In the second period, it opens up a little bit. We look at that as a big opportunity for us to take hold of the game. That is really what our focus has been on: to have good starts, don’t let the game get away on us, and look to pull away on each shift as we go along. The second period is a big part of that, of course.