Sheldon Keefe addressed the media after his team’s 3-2 win over the New York Rangers to end the regular-season schedule at 50-21-11.
On the team wrapping up the regular season with a win:
It was a good third period for us to get a win. You are still here in a building in a close game. If your team is worth anything, you are still going to do what you can to try to come out on the right side of it.
I like that we stayed with it and found a way to win the game.
On entering the playoffs on a four-game winning streak:
The results are good, of course. It helps the morale of the group when you are winning games. That is important.
More important is how you are playing. I think we have played well and done a good job to get on the right side of these games. You can really feel our team coming together.
Getting O’Reilly back from his injury, and while we have lost some guys on this trip to injuries or personal situations… In the last couple of weeks, with somewhat of our full complete group, you can see the guys really coming together.
The energy of the group, the connectivity, and the cohesion have been really good.
On William Nylander’s hunger to reach 40 goals tonight:
He was excellent — in the first period, especially. I think he had eight shot attempts in the first period. He was carrying play. He got himself a breakaway.
On this road trip, while our team played well, Willy, in particular, had a terrific trip. It was good to see him get rewarded in the end with the goal. I think he has really had a nice trip here. He should be feeling really confident going into the playoffs.
On Matthew Knies’ performance in his third NHL game:
Another good game. He had some real strong moments in the game, for sure. In all three games, he has done a really good job of showing he belongs.
On his comfort level with putting Knies into a playoff game:
I would feel very comfortable. In the playoffs, it still remains to be seen, right? It is a different animal.
As far as the only test he could have — these three games for him — he has certainly fit in. Those are three very good playoff teams he has played against — a Florida team that was desperate, the same team we are going to play in Tampa, and then here tonight.
In all three games, he certainly looked like he belongs to me.
On the preparation in the next three or four days ahead of the playoff opener:
We are still waiting to hear if it will be Monday or Tuesday. We haven’t gotten a definitive answer. It seems like things are trending toward Tuesday, so we have a plan for that.
Once we know for certain what the day will be, we will finalize the plan. We will take tomorrow off with the guys getting back from the trip and settling in. We will get three days if it is Tuesday — two days if it’s not — at the facility getting ready. I think the guys are excited to go.
On his confidence level in Joseph Woll if he was called on in the playoffs based on these last few starts:
It is more than just these games. All season, when he has come in, he has been excellent for us. When he hasn’t been with us, he has been down with the Marlies dominating the American league and showing he is ready for more.
In each opportunity that he has had, he has done a great job. He was excellent again tonight.
On the team’s progress throughout the 82-game regular season:
We have been a really consistent group for the most part. We haven’t gone on real long stretches — outside of November — of winning, but we also never really had long losing streaks. We have been able to bounce back really quickly off of a disappointing game. I like that.
I just like how the group has come together since the trade deadline. With the injuries we had and all of that, it made it a little more difficult and a little bit more of a challenge for us.
When I see the way the group interacts with each other on the ice, in the room, on the road when we are traveling, and seeing it come together on the ice, there is a really good feeling about the group.
It says a lot about the character of the guys who have been here to accept the new guys, and then the new guys coming in as far as how they fit in. The pieces have fit in really well.