John Stevens, on what impressed him about the team tonight:
Well, I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t think it was our best game tonight. Ottawa had come in, they had played last night, and in a stretch that they hadn’t had a lot of success so we knew that probably made them a really dangerous team. They play hard, they forecheck really well, and jam down low. And I thought over the course of the game that’s tough ice. You’ve got to be tough on the walls. You’ve got to be able to take on contact. You’ve got to be able to take on plays, and pass under pressure. And I thought we did that, at times well and at times we didn’t. Probably the part we had the best success was just moving in the offensive zone. We had some really good stretches with a lot of high plays, lot of back of net plays around the net. So it’s a tough game. We knew it’d be a tough game. Coming off the road you play every other day, it seems like the road trip, and kind of addressed it as if it is a continuation of the road trip. But certainly liked the resilience of the group. They have the ability to fight back in games. Gave up a late goal like that and then they come right back and win it in overtime. So, not surprising that Kopi, Drew, and Brownie are involved in it.
Stevens, on the the team’s level of confidence:
Well, I think you have a group of players here, it’s the veteran guys here that know how to win. They’ve been there before, they know what it takes to win. They’re comfortable playing in tight games. I think if you look at some of our younger players with Alex (Iafallo) playing with Kopi and Brownie, you’ve got Kempe playing with Lewie and Gabby, and then Shorzie, Ty, and Tanner are all veteran guys. So then you go to the fourth line and you’ve got Brods (Brodzinski) playing with two veteran guys. I think the guys that are veteran guys are comfortable in those situations. That’s really helped our younger players perform in those situations. So they deserve a lot of credit for the success we’ve had here late.
Stevens, on whether the team’s dominant play in third periods comes from conditioning:
Well, I’ll be honest, I think every team in the league is extremely fit, but I do think the group this year, with the commitment in the summertime to come in ready, was great. And we were really excited about it. And I also think Matt Price and his staff, Kinger (Chris Kingsley), have done a good job with the resources we have to manage fatigue. So we have a much better handle now on when do they work, when do they rest, how much rest can we have. And we talk to the players and see how they’re feeling. So we try to make sure we get enough work, but when the schedule is what it is make sure we rest sometimes is as important as work. So I think this group is a well-conditioned group and the resources they have been afforded have really helped them recover in tough games and still be a good third period team night-in, night-out.
Stevens, on getting the game-winner early in overtime after giving up the game-tying goal so late in regulation:
It’s nice to get the win and move on to be honest with you. You know, you don’t like giving up a lead late like that and Darcy (Kuemper) played a heck of a game for us. But again, you’ve got a point and now you’ve got to go get two points. And it’s interesting in overtime, I think a lot of times in overtime those situations of good defensive play leads to an offensive play. I think that’s been the case with us anyway and I think the guys that are on the ice are obviously our best offensive players, but they’re best defensive players and end up with the puck on an odd man rush. So, great to see.
Stevens, on mixing up the lines:
We like the line, we like the continuity of the line, we like what Alex brings to the line. We just thought in game that they needed a spark. We just weren’t creating enoguht with that line. Sometimes you make a little switch like that, and I thought the lines got better. I thought moveing Kempe with Ty and Tanner, that line got better. Shorzie, Alex, and Lewis gives it a little bit of a different look and Gabby was going. Gabby, you get a feeling, if he gets an opportunity to score he has a habit of doing that at the right time. So I think we have the ability to move those guys around a little bit. They did with their lines early in the hockey game tonight, maybe just based on matchup. We did it to try to get a spark because they’ve had success before.