On whether he was flipping between the World Series and Ducks-Maple Leafs last night:
I was. Actually, I’ll be honest: once they got down early, I had dinner and came back up and watched mostly the Anaheim-Leaf game. I kept checking the score, but they kind of took the wind out of the sails with the early lead. I watched the first inning. Tough start.
On what he’ll look to instill and reinforce following the road trip:
The big thing for us is staying in road mode. It’s really hard coming home off the road. Long trip – longest trip of the year – and I thought the guys really dug in on the whole trip. The thing that happens without even thinking about it is you tend to want to relax, and you really can’t. I mean, you’ve got a really good team coming in here that’s going to be in road mode and is going to really come after us, so we’ve really tried to talk to the guys about thinking about the game and getting ready to go and making sure that we’re dialed in to play the way we need to play even though we’re home. [Reporter: The fact that you just played them a week ago, does that give you a good blueprint of what you need to do better in this next game here?] I think it always helps when you play teams in the east and you play ‘em close together because it’s a lot of preparation that goes into an opponent that you’re that familiar with. We play Anaheim, San Jose, teams in our division I think we’re all really familiar. It’s just reminders. But I think when you play a team from the east, you’ve really got to take some extra time to get a good feel for what their tendencies are, so the fact that we played them not long ago gives us a reference point, obviously. We don’t think we played great in that game. I think we gave up way too much, so we’d certainly like to have a better outing tonight. [Reporter: Their speed – is that one of the points of emphasis, defending that going forward tonight?] It’s not so much their speed as their style of play. I mean, it’s their puck speed that probably wears you more than anything else. Not so much their skating speed, because they play fast. If you look at the underlying analytics, they’re number one or two in almost every offensive category you can find, and they’re a reason for it. They do a lot of really good structural things offensively, and they’ve got a really high skill level that goes along with it, so we’re going to have to check really well against this team to counteract that. [Reporter: That speed, and talking about the structure, is it bringing more numbers on the rush – the defensemen on the rush – that you saw a week ago?] Well, one, they’ve got some terrific offensive players. They’ve always got a guy parked in the blue paint, they’re always driving the middle lane off the rush, they’ve always got a guy in the slot, either getting to the slot or in the slot. Their defense are very involved with moving around, but I just think their whole focus, how well they use the back of the net, get to the net, have somebody at the net and somebody in the middle of the ice, and they’re skilled enough to fine them, and on top of that, they’re extremely competitive players on the puck, so it’s not surprising. Even their power play, as skilled as it is, they get numbers to the net and they find loose pucks around the net, and to me, what makes that so successful is they have two units that can do things that way. They’re really dialed in to what they need to do offensively, and they compete to score.
On whether he had any reservations about using Kurtis MacDermid on the power play Monday:
No we talked to Mike Stothers in training camp, and they used him in the minors there a little bit. We just wanted somebody up top. He’s not going to be the guy running the top, but he’s somebody, he’s going to get the puck and look to get it to the net. Kurtis does a good job at changing angles and just wristing pucks to the net and getting pucks into traffic, so with Oscar out, we felt like he’d be a good fit there on the second unit to do just that. [Reporter: For a guy that’s put the work in and paid his dues, how has he acclimated himself through the first seven, eight games here?] He’s done a really good job. We all know he’s got an identity as a real physical player, but I think he’s shown the ability to be a really good defender and get back and have an ability to move pucks quickly out of the zone. We’ve been really happy with his progression in terms of his play, what he brings to our hockey team. He practices hard, he wants to continue to get better, and because of that, we’ve had him in the lineup quite a bit.
On whether Alex Iafallo, mentally, needs to be rewarded with a goal for his efforts:
I think it’s a really slippery slope you go down when you start thinking that way. There are lots of examples. Probably Hyman’s a great example for Toronto. He’s a real blue-collar worker that ends up in the blue paint all the time and he gets in on the forecheck and wins a lot of loose pucks, and then he goes and stands in the blue paint. He doesn’t get all the recognition those other two guys get, but he’s critical to the success of the line. We look at Alex a little bit of the same way. There are so many good things in terms of the process of playing the game the right way. The results, to me, will take care of themselves. The results are the results of the line and the results of the team, and we’re not as concerned about what the individual stats might tell you. We’re more concerned about how he fits on the line and what he brings to the line, and we think it’s been really good.
-One omitted quote was used in today’s morning skate report
-Lead photo via Harry How/Getty Images