Sheldon Keefe addressed the media after his team’s 2-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens in the opening game of the 2021-22 regular season.
On the team’s performance over 60 minutes:
I thought in the first 10 minutes we were not good. It took us a little while to get comfortable in the game. From then on, the effort was really strong. The guys worked and competed. It was a tight game right to the end. I am happy that we found a way to get on the right side of it, of course.
On the atmosphere in the building:
Outstanding. Right from the time I walked out onto the bench for the introductions, it was just different. It has been a long time since we have seen the place full like that.
I thought the crowd was engaged right from the start of the game. Soupy was holding us in early on, and they were engaged all the way through. On that 5-on-3 penalty kill, they were outstanding.
I thought they were a real factor in the game today. We could feel it on the bench — the energy in a game like this where it is so close. It was really great. I thought our fans were outstanding tonight.
On David Kampf’s utility on the penalty kill:
It is a great tool for us. That is why we were really happy to be able to add him. He is a unique player for us. He has a different skill set than a lot of our guys. He is really strong on faceoffs today, especially on his left side. Penalty killing was really good, but his line at 5-on-5 was really good as well. They had chances. They spent a lot of time in the offensive zone. I thought Kampf was really good, as were Kase and Engvall.
On Pierre Engvall’s strong performance:
He had a really strong game. I thought he skated well. He scored us a big goal on the power play. He gave us a lot of great shifts and had some tough assignments playing against some of their top people and starting in our own end a lot of the time. I thought he was really good — so good that we will give him a pass for shooting at the empty net there.
On William Nylander’s goal and performance:
Clutch goal for us. That is what you need when you get a chance like that with one of your best players. You are obviously expecting him to be able to capitalize. He did just that. It was a great handoff there between him and Mitch. Mitch had a lot of poise to hang onto the puck and get us organized. We had a good line change, and Willy was right on the ball. As soon as he hits the ice, he is ready to go. I thought that was a real nice handoff and exchange between two of our strong players.
Great finish by Will. I thought Will was good in a lot of other areas as well. Very positive sign for him and us.