April 1, 2013 5:12 pm

April 1 practice quotes: Darryl Sutter

On what makes a strong road performance:
“You need great goaltending and you need to have a really strong defensive structure in terms of not playing on your heels, but at the same time…it’s a fact there are players in the league – and there always have been – that play better at home than they did on the road. I really don’t want to get into the specifics of it, but there are skilled players that need to play in their own building, and we take pride in our team, quite honestly, of being a good team, not being where players are highlighted because they’re stars. And that’s my responsibility, is trying to get everybody to play like that. Quite honest, this team is pretty fortunate that the star players play a well-rounded game. You’ve been talking about Kopi, and I’ve been saying that, right? So it wasn’t important to Kopi yesterday, personally, that he didn’t get a point. It was important to Kopi that we played well. It didn’t matter if we won or lost. It was important that we played well. And if you look at it, Kopi for example when you break that out, that’s probably the fewest he’s played since I’ve coached him, the fewest minutes. But still, that’s quality, not quantity, and it tells you…that’s why it’s totally different when you talk about the road this year. Well, the schedule is not fair, right? So you have to have some balance, you have to trust that you can play guys, and if they have two or three bad shifts, then we probably lose it. And that’s happened to us this year. That’s happened to everybody if you look at it. There are very few .500 teams on the road. It’s the schedule.”

On concluding the 17-games-in-30-days stretch:
“I don’t think I’ve ever played 17 games in March, and we did. And I’m tired. Good thing I’m not playing.”

On how to cultivate a shot mentality:
“We’ve done it all year. You have to break it out into individuals and lines and lines and positions and power play. [Reporter: A lot of reinforcement there, verbally?] It’s not like that, but it’s how you create opportunities, and how the goalies play now. I know on TV it looks like most goals are scored on great plays, but the most of them are scored on second and third [opportunities], turnovers and mistakes. As much of that as you can create, that’s what we try and do it force turnovers and play on the right side of the puck, which means that the puck’s going to come back to you.”

On Brad Richardson’s performance in Dallas:
“Gave us some energy. If he wouldn’t have, he would have been on trouble. He should’ve had a full tank. Hey, you know what? Brad works his ass off every day, right? You know what? He can play anywhere in your lineup, but it has to fit with who he’s playing with, too. Hey, that’s what I said when we brought Tyler up. You know what? The schedule forced us to carry a full roster. I asked Dean if we could. I wanted another kid who can score in the lineup in case we needed him. Some nights you need size. Some nights you need a scorer. Some nights you need the energy. Some nights you need the right winger. Some nights you need a left winger.”

On “coaching” players to drive to the net and earn some tough goals:
“Number one is a competition. You want to play? You want to dress? You want to be on the power play? It’s still a huge motivating factor for players, because especially guys that have one now, they don’t put their own stats ahead of the team’s. So a lot of times it’s not that they don’t want to do it, they just don’t realize that they didn’t do it. They think they are doing it. I’m not so sure how much that’s coaching. We reinforce it and tell them, but ultimately you have to do it. It’s like I tell these kids Muzz and Drew and Slava when they get off shooting – and Muzz hasn’t been shooting enough again – you give them the flexibility and some freedom to put them in situations where they do it, and if you look at in Minnesota the other night, and Drew and Muzz switch on a faceoff and Muzz blasts it and hits the crossbar. It’s a great shot. He should have scored. It’s like I told him, ‘Score’. Didn’t get a shot on goal. Could’ve won the game in the last minute and a half or whatever…it was. So you have to tell them, right? It’s like getting Brownie to stand in front of the net. It’s your ass. Get a goal. Off your ass. Go to the net. It’s territorial a little bit too, you know. It’s something that happened in the game. Guys stopped going to the net. It’s a transition because of protecting the goalie, so guys stopped going, right? So you get those penalties where we had one disallowed this year in Columbus where Kopi went there. Well, Kopi’s probably never had a goaltender interference or a goal taken away because he was there, right? The mindset is you want him to shoot more, to get to the net more, to be in the middle of the ice more. He’s thinking about if he does that. So they took the goal away. So that’s all right. Next time he’s going to get the goal. And you look at Brownie’s goal in [St. Louis], Kopi was the guy that’s there. Brownie’s there. They’re both in the crease, right? Brownie doesn’t get that goal if Kopi’s not there.”

On goals that are scored with bodies in front of the net:
“Brown’s winner in Chicago – Willie goes there. Still, it’s a big part of the game. Successful teams take a lot of shots, and they have guys with high shooting percentages…[With] Kopi, he’s right around a shot and a half a game. He’s a high shooting percentage guy, right? So if he takes more shots, he’s still going to have a high percentage because he’s a really good player. So he’s going to score more goals. His numbers reflect it dead perfectly. He’s a classic case of that, right? He’s a 25, 50 assist guy. That’s what he is. But he should be 30, right? If he just takes one more shot, he’s too good a player percentage-wise. It’s like the guys that are always trying to friggin’ hit home runs. They don’t get four strikes.”

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