On getting to a part of the preseason in which teams are playing mostly regulars:
We expect most of the regulars in the lineup for Arizona tonight. Their games haven’t been broadcast. New staff and a lot of new direction. We don’t have a lot of information in terms of style of play, so we basically just took the stance we’re going to focus on ourselves and continue to get better in a lot of areas that we’ve been working on all preseason. We want to continue to take strides as a team in all areas of our team. I think we would’ve focused on ourselves anyway, but even more so with the lack of availability in any kind of broadcast of their games. [Reporter: How does that affect preparation? Do you get video overall? Is there a closed circuit that you’re able to use? I know you’re probably not focusing too much on Arizona, obviously, in the preseason.] Like Vegas, we have an opportunity just to watch ‘em play. It’s helpful just to get a sense of what you’re going to see in terms of style of play, faceoff movement, those types of things, but ultimately we take the stance we want to be aware of opponent in terms of tendencies, but we really want to focus on what we need to do. That part didn’t change. I don’t really know if we have an eye on them, other than Rick Tocchet was in Pittsburgh, and I would assume that he would try to implement some of the things and ideas they had there. But at the day, we’ve seen Vancouver and Vegas are playing similar styles where they’re really pushing the pace – quick-up plays, D are very active – and I would expect the same out of Arizona.
On what needs to be fine-tuned over the final two preseason games:
Long list. We’re trying to get better defensively. We want to be a little quicker in our own zone, tighten up there a little bit. I think neutral zone play is an area that we want to continue to get better at with and without the puck. We use the term ‘playing faster,’ but we want to check better, too, and then just offensively, continue to generate an attack with speed in the middle of the ice, continue to use the entire zone and have a presence at the net in the middle of the ice and change the point of attack. We’ve done some good things in those areas, we’d just like to see a little more consistency. And special teams, it goes without saying, there’s work to be done there.
On the team having a good jump after having returned from China:
Yeah, we’ve kept a close eye on that. We gave ‘em a day off when we got back, and then the second day we brought them in for a late morning workout, which we thought the energy in that was really good. I just kind of sense on their eating habits and sleeping habits, we’re getting a sense now that most guys are sleeping well, and I think the energy on the ice, we were going to move practice yesterday, but the guys felt they were back on the normal routine where we practice at 10:00 as opposed to moving it a little bit later, but we’re getting a sense that the guys are getting acclimated that any ill effects from the long trip and the time change are starting to get left behind us here and we’re getting back into the normal routine.
On what Pierre Turgeon has brought to the coaching staff:
I think the staff in general gets along well, and I think there are different personalities and different skill sets. Turg – he’s just trying to keep an eye on the offensive side of the game, maybe things that he sees. He’s really focused in on faceoffs for us through preseason – not only the centermen taking them, but the movement off the faceoffs. One of the things he’s got to keep an eye on is just tracking scoring chances. Where are they coming from, where are we generating, whether it’s the rush, in the zone. The other guys are going to be in terms of the structure and presentation, but he’s going to keep an eye on the execution in those areas offensively for us and continue to track those areas for us. [Reporter: After he got hired, what kind of a workload did he have to catch up and get familiar? How much tape was he watching?] I think it’s going to be a learning curve coming into the National Hockey League level and you haven’t coached a whole lot. We’ve got guys here that have a lot of experience, so I think it’s been helpful. I think if you’d ask him, as a player, you don’t understand or you haven’t seen how much time goes into the preparation part of it. I think that’s been a real eye-opener for him, but at the same time, he’s really enjoyed it studying the game, spending time discussing the game, what goes into the preparation and how to present his ideas. It seems like he’s really enjoyed that part of it. A guy that played the game at a high level like he has, I think he’s got a lot to offer. Just started to delve into the faceoff part of it yesterday individually with all the players. Just touched on some things that he’s seen. I mean, he can tweak things with the guys that are a little bit older and really teach some fundamentals to the guys that’ll be younger. [Reporter: Does he work with the D, too, or is it mostly just the forwards?] It’s going to be an overall concept. He’s going to keep an eye on all that stuff. Obviously we’re going to attack with all five guys, and I think with any staff there’s got to be a comfortable overlap, so if I’m responsible for a certain area and I see something that delves into an area that might be behind in my direct responsibility, we want everybody feeling comfortable with all that. But we have staff discussions on a daily basis – going over video review, practice planning – and everybody’s an equal part of all that.
On how the rule implementing a minor penalty for an incorrect off-sides challenge affects strategy:
I don’t think it affects your strategy, but I think you’ve got to be sure. You might take a chance on an off-side because it’s a close game late and if you think it might be close, you’re going to call it and burn a timeout, whereas now, if you’re in a close game late, you want to be sure. You don’t want to say ‘it might be offside.’ You want to hopefully have a little more evidence that it is offside to make that call, because you’ll end up in the box in that situation. It could be tough. I think we’ve got to err on the side of caution on those calls. The penalties, I think they’re getting a handle on. I think both the players and the referees, there’s a learning curve to start getting a better understanding on what’s allowed. The players are smart guys and they’re going to make the adjustments quickly, and the referees, it’s new for them too. They’re being told to look for certain things, and at least in our game, they’ve seen that number come way down as opposed to the first game on the road in China. I think you’re going to see teams with a much better handle on it, and it’s going to come from both sides. I think the referees are getting a better handle on exactly what needs to be called, and I think the players are doing a better job of making the adjustment in terms of what they want.
On how the iPads behind the bench has affected the “workflow”:
We haven’t had the workflow. [Reporter: You haven’t?] No, we were in China, so obviously didn’t have them over there. [Reporter: Even in Vegas?] No, they didn’t have them there. They didn’t have the ability to challenge there, either. It wasn’t quite set up. They thought they were. I got the message from Mike Murphy in the morning. They thought it would be set up but it wasn’t. That was their first game in that building. It was my first understanding it was their first day in that building when we played there, so I’m sure there were other things that took priority. We’re hoping it’s in place here tonight, but we have not yet had that opportunity to get a look at that and see how it functions.
On Marian Gaborik:
No, just gave him a couple days. He’s been pushing hard, so they thought they’d give him a couple days to just rest, recover and a couple maintenance days in. They should get him back on the ice tomorrow.
-Lead photo via Jeff Vinnick/NHLI