Before the Phoenix Coyotes flew to Los Angeles today, coach Dave Tippett addressed reporters in the Phoenix area. Here’s how the session went…
Question: What can you do to generate some offense in this series?
TIPPETT: “We have to have better execution with the puck. We had some opportunities last night. We had two or three decent opportunities. We missed the net. We have to create more opportunities like that. It’s pretty simple. The execution up the ice, the execution in the offensive zone has to be better. That goes 5-on-5 and our power play.”
Question: You juggled some lines. How do you think it turned out?
TIPPETT: “I thought Gordon and Boedker and Korpikoski were solid against the Kopitar line. I thought the game was fairly even until we started getting ourselves in a lot of penalty trouble. The game went downhill from there.”
Question: What do you expect from Shane (Doan) in the next game?
TIPPETT: “We expect him to be better. That play last night, you’ve seen something like…that I know there’s a lot of focus put on hits from behind. To me that’s a hockey play that a player puts himself in a vulnerable position. I said last night, if you ever played that game, you’re in that position, at the split second that guy turns, you can’t stop. It’s not surprising to me that Shane didn’t get any disciplinary action on that. Is an unfortunate incident that happened. I expect Shane, any player, it would bother him. He’s our leader. He wants to come back and have a strong game. I expect him to come in and have his best game of series.”
Question: Any expectations regarding Hanzal?
TIPPETT: “Wait and see how that one goes.”
Question: You talked about raising the bar at the conference-finals level. Why do you think that has been a challenge for some players?
TIPPETT: “It’s interesting. There’s some players that this is very new to them. You take a young player like Ekman-Larsson. Game 1, didn’t play very well. Was a little tentative. I thought was much better last night. There’s players that, as they go through this experience, will continue to grow, and hopefully they continue to recognize the level you need to get to in order to have an impact on the game. We just need some more players to find a way to have an impact on the game. In that sense, they raise their bar.”
Question: What do you want to do on the power play?
TIPPETT: “Execute. You watch how many times we get the puck and we fumble it or don’t make a good play. Hard to grab any momentum when your execution is so poor.”
Question: You liked what you saw early on. Do you like the new line combination?
TIPPETT: “The Kopitar line was very good in Game 1. We want to make sure they didn’t have the same success in Game 2. Our guys we put against them, I thought did a fairly good job. We need everybody to contribute. We’ve talked about that from day one. If we have a couple players play well, a couple don’t play well, we’re not going to have success. We need everybody to play well. The execution and the ability to generate some stuff, as well as defend better, all can improve. Even though it was a little better last game, obviously the results aren’t there. We’re going to have to try to improve again.”
Question: After the game, Smith had some critiques for how the team played. Sometimes people think it’s not the goalie’s place. Is that part of the package with this guy, he’s the leader in the room?
TIPPETT: “He plays hard, just like everybody else. We expect them to play hard. I think it’s frustration right now from our group, that we haven’t played as well as we like. I think Smitty feels that frustration just like the rest of our players do. They care about what we do, they care about winning. When you don’t get the results you want, there’s emotion and frustration that comes into play. ”
Question: Was the night as tough for Jonathan Quick as it was for Mike Smith?
TIPPETT: “No. Our execution hasn’t been near what it needs to be to get enough pucks towards their net. You know, you see their mindset is just to dump as many pucks as they could into our net. The reality is their execution is better up the ice to allow them to do that. Our execution, the ability to get pucks towards there, has to be there. The ratio of our execution to pucks at the net is not working out, what we’d like to see. That has to be more.”
Question: The Kings had to scramble to get into the playoffs. Yet, in the postseason they have dominated. What is the biggest difference in their play from the regular season to the postseason?
TIPPETT: “They scrambled because they struggled the first part of the season. The last part of the season, they played well. They’re not your typical No. 8 seed. They’re a team that has good depth, good talent. Because they’re the eighth seed doesn’t mean that’s where their personnel put them. What it says, it says a great deal about the parity in the league right now. It’s hard to make the playoffs. When you have a team like that squeeze in, and still play as well as they have in the playoffs, there’s a lot of good teams that even don’t make the playoffs.”
Question: You have a pretty good read on your team most of the season. What is your assessment of this club right now?
TIPPETT: “I think there’s a combination of things. One is frustration of knowing we haven’t played as well as we would like. Haven’t played to our capabilities. That frustration can’t get the better of us. We have to find a way to go out and do the things that allow us to be successful. Sometimes people expect us to come out and dominate a game. That’s not going to happen. We’re a team that goes out and we hang around the game and we find a way to win. The frustration of not being able to do that in the first two games certainly was evident. We have to get back to playing the way we can, playing our style, that we can find a way to win.”
Question: Over the course of this season, this team accomplished many milestones. And gotten farther than many predicted. Do you think maybe the perception became that this accomplishment was enough, just to get here?
TIPPETT: “Not a bit. The times when you get to this point are few and far between. You better take advantage of them when you get here.”
Question: The way the Kings are playing, is that pretty much a model example of how you should play at this level, at this stage of the season?
TIPPETT: “Well, they’ve played well. We can play better. I’m concerned about our team. We can get better. I’m sure Darryl is concerned about how they can get better. That’s the reality of coaching. Until we play to what we feel like is our capability on a consistent basis, then we’ll find out our judgment then.”
Question: What did you think of Stone?
TIPPETT: “I thought Stone was fine. I thought it was unfortunate the one break there, I thought should have been an icing call, they waved it off right at the end on him and put him in a little bit trouble. But he jumped in. For his first playoff game, he was solid.”
Question: Aucoin’s status?
TIPPETT: “Skating again today. We’ll see where he is tomorrow.”