May 29, 2013 3:20 pm

May 29 conference call quotes: Mike Richards

On how he feels on a recovery day halfway to the team’s goal:
“Obviously happy that we’re here, like you said though, it’s taken a lot to get to this point. Two grinding, grueling, tough, hard-hitting series. Obviously nice to move on and nice to get a day to relax and rest up and excited to see who we get to play next.”

On challenges presented by the potential conference final opponents:
“I think there’s a lot of problems on both teams that we’d play. Either team has a lot of skill. I think if you look at both rosters, they’ve got world class players, great goaltenders and really just a lot of different threats on the ice. Obviously it’s nice to play at home – so it’s not picking somebody – but Detroit would be nice just so we could have home-ice advantage because I think in the playoffs, I think everybody has seen how important it is. But, it’s a tossup right now. I’ve been watching the other series pretty closely and seeing some good hockey, and I expect to watch today too.”

On roster and coaching changes last year, and whether anything this year compares:
“It’s a different season. It’s hard to really look back right now and say there’s a couple different points like we did last year. This year, just with the amount of games, it’s seems like we’ve done nothing but play hockey and no time to think, just play. But there hasn’t really been one thing I think this year. We’ve continued to get better. We’ve added Robyn Regehr, which I think is a huge help for our hockey team and getting Matt Greene back in the playoffs. I think with just those two in the line-up it adds that physical presence which I don’t think that we had before and it definitely makes us a much harder team to play against.”

On whether this feels like a “more stable” roster and team this year:
“Well, I think when you have confidence and anytime you have a team that has played together for a period of time and not have people added, like I was last year, [and] Jeff was, I think you can find a consistency a little bit easier when you have guys that are familiar with each other, especially power play. I think our power play, even though we haven’t probably scored as many goals as maybe we want, but I think we’re creating some momentum and when you have players that have been together for a while that obviously helps.”

On what it would mean to the team to potentially get Jarret Stoll back in the conference final:
“I think you could see the penalty kill especially, and faceoffs, are a big part that we struggled throughout the series. I think we were under 50% for most of it. I’m not sure what we were last night, but faceoffs is a big part. When you’re having the puck, it seems that you’re controlling the game more instead of chasing it and hunting it down, it’s obviously a lot easier to play when you have the puck and making plays than you are defending and chasing it down. So we miss him obviously a lot, and hopefully will get him back here at some point. It will be a big boost for us whenever we can play with a full roster. At this time of year, with the depth that we have, I think its going to benefit us.”

On the “wear and tear” mental element of the season:
“I think it wears on both the mental aspect along with the physical aspect of hockey. It’s grinding at the best of times and then you throw another game in a week where you have no down time. You’re either getting ready for a game or just played a game and got to get right back and get re-energized, regrouped for the next game. It seems like you’re always thinking of the game, who you’re playing next, what team you’re playing, maybe even thinking about the game prior instead of having those days where you can just unwind and not think about hockey. And then that also carries into the shift-to-shift basis, where you might not have it every night or every shift, where you’re physically fatigued and that’s also part of the mental aspect of trying to battle through that and gearing yourself up to play and even though you don’t have it deep down, you try to find it. It’s been a tough year and I think the coaching staff has done a great job of giving us rest when we need it. I think the players have done a good job of not making any excuses or using any excuses and really just finding it and playing with what you’ve got.”

On how he felt when he woke up this morning:
“I laid in bed for probably an hour and a half, two hours, just to unwind. Days like today, where you’re not sure who you’re going to play, so you’re not quite yet getting ready for the next series. You know, you don’t have time to think about hockey, it’s nice just to relax and take your mind off it for a bit and give your brain a little bit of a rest.”

On whether he has ever played in back-to-back games in the playoffs, which could happen with Games 1 and 2 in Chicago this weekend:
“Yeah, I believe a couple times. I want to say we played Game 6 and Game 7 back-to-back a number of years ago. But, it comes down to that, what I just talked about, being mentally ready for it. You might be a little bit exhausted, but it’s mental, about getting down and finding it. Trying to get your legs and just be ready for it because you know it’s obviously going to be a test. Playoff hockey, any playoff game is a grind. So, to carry that over two games, two-day stretch, is going to be pretty important for us to stay with it, stay focused and manage our rest on these days that we do have off.”

On why there has been a challenge in finding consistency from the left side on his line:
“I’m not really sure. I think the guys that have been put in the situation have done a good job, to be honest with you. I think it’s a situation where if you’re playing on the left side, I think, of a left-handed centerman, it’s harder to get production because the centerman’s always facing the right side, and it’s an easier pass if you’re making it on your forehand than say your backhand. So, I think the right winger is going to get more touches than the left side. But, I think the guys that have played with us, it’s hard to step into a line that has really played together for a long time. I enjoy playing with Penns. I liked playing with Kinger for a little bit. We’ve played with a lot of different guys throughout the year. So I think they’ve done a good job, and obviously as time goes on we’re going to get more confidence and we definitely have some chemistry with Dustin over there.”

On whether he feels there’s “a type” of player that would fit best with he and Jeff Carter:
“I’m not really sure. Like I said, we have some chemistry with Dustin. We’ve played together for a bit now and [he’s] probably the guy that I’ve played with the most with on the left-hand side. So, I think that chemistry is pretty good with him and I, and Jeff as well. We’ve had some success together, we know each others’ games and at this time of year, it’s obviously easier when you can read a player a lot easier than having different guys in the mix.”

On what he says to people who complain about the low-scoring series:
“I just don’t think those people that are saying that watched the series. They might be low scoring, but they’re definitely high-hitting. There’s some great goaltending, which had been a big part of that. I think Niemi was great, and Quickie obviously made a lot of big saves throughout the series, too. So for people saying that, I don’t think they paid too much attention to the series. Especially our last one too…the St. Louis series was as hard-hitting of a series as I’ve ever been a part of.”

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