December 20 practice quotes: Darryl Sutter
On whether Willie Mitchell is making progress:
He’s making good [progress].
On whether Mitchell would be available on Saturday:
He’d probably be available, but I’m happy with the six guys that are in there. [Reporter: You wouldn’t go with seven, would you?] No. It’s tough enough last night going with 11 forwards.
On the tough lineup choices he’s faced with:
It’s a competition. I mean, it’s the same as the goalies and same as the forwards. I mean, I’m not taking guys out because they’re trying to keep energy, I’m trying to find some stuff that matches. Up front, we’ve been hit and miss with some guys, and who goes in depends on who we’re playing and position-wise and that sort of thing.
On what he stresses to the team to maintain an “even keel” approach:
We don’t base it on winning and losing, that’s why. The level or whatever you want to call it is not based on winning or losing, it’s how you play…You know, we’re pretty honest. That’s the best part about the team, obviously, is they’re honest in their assessments. You talk to them about stuff, and they either agree or disagree, but at least they’re honest about it. So there’s times when you win and things you have to be better at, or maybe you didn’t play as well as you wanted, and quite honest, there’s times when you lose that you’ve played really well. So you don’t get too caught up in it. [Reporter: Before you took this position, did you really know about the constitution of this team and that type of psyche?] They were a team that was struggling with that part of their game, clearly. They didn’t handle wins and losses as well as they should have. That was clear.
On whether this stretch of play resembles the team’s play during the Stanley Cup run:
It’s totally different because of the division you’re in and the conferences there are. It’s what I said at the start of the year. There’s going to be a hundred point team not make the playoffs. If you’re one of them, that’s going to be too bad. But it doesn’t mean you didn’t have a good year. So that’s where we are. [Reporter: But given that, the way you guys are playing, when the forecheck is going, it just seems a little close to approaching the way you guys played during the run.] Again, I don’t get too caught up in that, because if we’d had lost last night, then you’d ask today, ‘There was something wrong with your forecheck last night.’ Or ‘How come you’re not playing Willie Mitchell?’ So that’s why. It doesn’t really affect me one way or another. Quite honest, the team we played last night, I find zero difference in the two clubs. Probably the only difference would be is their number one goalie is playing. So we’re not the defending Stanley Cup champion. The defending Stanley Cup champion just kicked our ass.
On the Colorado Avalanche:
They’re a good hockey club. We talked about that in training camp. We see ‘em enough. You see ‘em enough. They’re a good hockey club, and if they get [good] goaltending, they’re a very good hockey club. They have seven or eight of the best forwards in the National Hockey League.