On whether the China Games trip provided a good feel for Vancouver:
A little bit. We’ve actually played them three times altogether, with the games over there and the game here. We’ve kept an eye on teams in our division as they move along. I think there’s a little bit of – I don’t know if you’d call it an ‘evolution’ in Vancouver, but there’s certainly some young players that have taken bite of their lineup. The Sedins don’t play the minutes they used to, but they’re still really good players in the league. I think they’ve tried to change their style of play a little bit as well, but they’ve actually, by all accounts, played pretty well to this point. We would expect their game to be improved from training camp, just like we would hope everybody else’s game has improved. They’ve done a good job to this point of getting established in the division, and they’ve played some pretty good hockey.
On whether a lessened emphasis on the Sedins impacts the way Los Angeles plans on matching up:
I don’t know if it changes the way you match. I mean, the Sedins are still, I think, great players. Their two-man game and their ability to support the puck and play in the offensive zone and find each other on the rush and the power play and all those situations are still a concern that you need to deal with. They certainly have some young players that have taken a step in their game and they have some dynamic young, young players like the Boeser kid, and then Horvat’s really taken a prominent role on their team. I think there was maybe a period of time where the Sedins really carried the load offensively. I don’t think they’re asked to do that anymore. I think it’s more of a team game that we need to worry about now than any individual.
On the heavy schedule this week, and whether it impacts how he structures practices:
Yeah, it does. I think we’ve really looked at the week, and we’re trying to manage getting the right amount of work with the right amount of rest. I thought the guys were really professional about today. We weren’t out there long, maybe 30 minutes in all, but got some really quality work done with some really good pace and execution and a little bit of battle stuff to reinforce some of the areas we want to continue to get better at. I think that’s important, and then as we move along, the game day skates, I think it’s important to get a gauge on the players, where they’re fatigue’s at. I talk to Matt Price and the trainers, and they have a pretty good read on that. If guys need options in the morning, this group’s done a really good job with their preparation, so if they need options in the morning, then we’ll make sure they get it.
On post-game allusions that the team “pulled back,” and whether he agrees with that assessment or not, on whether there are signs that the team may be sitting on a lead:
I don’t think we ‘backed off,’ … but I will say I thought the second period we didn’t manage the puck through the neutral zone and it allowed them to get their forecheck established, and I thought the other side of it was you could see that was all they were trying to do. There was no messing around. The puck was going in and they were forechecking it. We’re referring to all these analytics, but at the end of the day, we lost the game on the forecheck. Our forecheck wasn’t good enough and theirs was better than ours. I think that tilted the ice. If you look at a lot of the situations and the way they all worked out at the end of the night, there was a lot of similar amount of stuff created. We created most of our stuff on the power play and on the rush, and not enough out of the zone and on the forecheck. We lose two-one and it’s close game. We had our chances. We had some really good chances in the game, but I think at the end of the day, that’s what stings a little bit. That’s their M.O. That’s their bread and butter, and it ended up being just enough to beat us.
On whether this is a rare week when he’ll look beyond tomorrow because of the compacted schedule:
It is, but we’re still focused on the segment that we’re in. We’re off to a tough start in this segment. We’re in no different of a situation now than we were when we were winning games. We did some good things when we were winning and we did some things that weren’t nearly good enough. Even though we’ve lost games, we did some good things in the games and there’s clearly areas we need to be better at. So keep focusing on the process of trying to get better today, and it will continue to trend in the direction where we’re getting better and better defensively, our execution’s getting better and we’re still continuing to improve our attack at the other end.
On whether he’d consider adjusting his approach to reinforce defensive aspects of the team game:
Not really. I think when you look at your game, we looked at some areas of our game – where were the breakdowns? Why were there breakdowns? What happens? … You have structural breakdowns where you’re not in the right position, but then you can also have people in the right position where you’re not executing fundamentally in a one-on-one situation. Those are all things we evaluate. If you were playing perfectly to the way you wanted to play and you’re still having problems, I think you’d start to look to change some things. But the breakdowns weren’t a system that was failing, they were just ‘we don’t need to be any different, we just need to be better.’
-One omitted quote was used in today’s practice notes
-Lead photo via Juan Ocampo/NHLI