January 17 practice quotes: Darryl Sutter
On how he evaluates Jake Muzzin’s performance from last night:
We got something, good quality minutes, out of all our defensemen. It was more of a balanced night. Obviously Drew and Slava get more minutes because they need to for us to be successful, and if they’re on top of their games. It was one of those games where you were able to use them more in a sequence. You know what? Muzz – those are the minutes we need to get out of him, when you look at it. With Robyn and Willie, they give you everything they’ve got, but they’re not kids. And in our schedule, when you’re pushing those guys into low 20’s, it affects their game, and it affects their performance on back to back nights. We’d seen it last year with Scuds when we used Scuds too much because we didn’t have Robyn yet, and we didn’t have Willie, and those kids weren’t giving us what we needed, and we saw it last year with Robyn where his game dropped off. It’s the same thing. If we start pushing Willie and Robyn too many minutes, they’re not as effective. It’s just because they’re not young guys. I’m not being critical of Muzz, but we need Muzzin to be a good player for us. It’s really clear. We’re going to play him with Drew Doughty on the road in a lot of situations, and get Robyn out there or Willie out there for faceoffs or last minutes and things like that. He’s got to be dialed in to be playing off and on against Zetterberg or Backes, or whoever it is. He’s got to be dialed in to that and help take the responsibility of it.
On the minutes provided by Colin Fraser’s game last night:
They scored a big goal. All three of ‘em had a good game in terms of the pursuit, time, space. We try and play ‘em in the other zone. They get in trouble, quite honest, if they’re turning pucks over and playing in the defensive zone, because again, on the road, you’re going to have one or two shifts a game where you see the other team’s fourth line against the other team’s best line. It’s going to happen, just because of line changes and because of penalties. After penalties, guys are coming off early because they’re tired or whatever it is…that can’t be a negative for you. You’ve got to be able to handle those two or three shifts a game. Otherwise, you don’t use them at all, and then you’ve got a real problem.
On line changes and matchups leading to an advantage over the course of a game:
It’s changed a lot though…That’s the difference, even since I’ve started coaching, because of time outs. Like, I’m always cognizant where time outs are at because I know I can get somebody another minute and a half. That’s the big difference. It used to be that it was a three-line thing. Quite honest, there wasn’t even four lines. So as long as I could get Bob Miller against Daryl Evans every shift, the other team didn’t mind that…That’s changed a lot in the game. And the other thing that’s changed big time in that…you used to ice the puck to get changes, and now you don’t. You’re staying on the ice.
On the team’s heightened success in penalty killing recently:
It just goes in streaks. [Reporter: Nothing that’s worked differently? Goaltending – is that a factor?] Yeah, for sure it is. Hey, we talked about it after the last trip we were on. Our penalty killing was good. We gave up two bad goals. Hey, it’s a huge part of it. It’s not just our team. It goes in streaks. Hey, we should be an above average penalty killing team because we’re a good goals-against team. We’re not a team that’s going to give up a lot, and if we understand that – hey, I told the players this yesterday. We just finished 48 games. Last year we were done with 48 games and everybody was evaluating the regular season, so we’re done with the regular season. I don’t have the time for when you lose three or four games, and everybody says, ‘Well, you can’t score goals.’ Well, jeez, I hope they didn’t go to the top of the mountain to figure that out. There’s five or six teams in the league that are going to score a lot of goals. So if you play against them, you better not think you’re going to beat ‘em four-three, cause they’re going to beat you six-three. We’re not going to coach our way out of that or play our way out of that. We’re going to be a team that the other team knows how to play against, we’re going to work hard, and we’re going to be honest.
On Willie Mitchell:
Hey, he missed a whole year of hockey. We’ve talked about that. We set training camp up for him on a schedule. Not like every other player. We set it up. ‘These are the games you’re going to play. We’re going to get you in back-to-backs to finish, so you’re ready for the season.’ And he’ll tell you – he struggled for the whole part of it. Hey, he’s 36 years old or whatever he is. He’s missed time already. We’ve played over half a season, and he’s missed how many games in there? [Reporter: A handful.] So, you know what? How’s he played? He’s played fine. Don’t expect more, and I don’t expect less.
On the impact of Robyn Regehr fighting Barret Jackman early in last night’s game:
Well, that player has that identity. Robyn’s played hard since he came into the league. So the day he stops – and that happens too. It’s not about the fight. It’s got nothing to do with fighting. Somebody challenged Robyn last night, so he fought him. Big deal. The guy who fought him was just like Robyn. They’re both guys that have been around a long time and play the game the right way and understand their roles, and know they’re not the player they were. You know what? Robyn hit Tarasenko, and Jackman decided that he wanted to fight Robyn. So Robyn obliged. It’s not that big a deal, right?