Playoffs underway?

It’s not often than an NHL coach can use his questioner as an example when giving an answer about playing in the Stanley Cup Finals. But yesterday, Terry Murray was asked about these regular-season games having a playoff feel, given how tight the conference standings are, and what a coach could do to help a young team prepare. The questioner was Mel Bridgman, former Philadelphia Flyers captain who now periodically writes for NHL.com.

Murray made Mel a part of his answer when discussing what he could do to bring playoff-type attention to these games…

MURRAY: “That’s the test, right there. You’ve got to address it. You’ve got to talk about it. I think there’s importance to the urgency of the moment, to every game, that you play from post-Christmas. This year, with the Olympic break, it’s critical. We have 15 more games. You’re right on, Mel. These are playoff kind of games right now, and it only gets harder and heavier as you get post-Olympic break. How do you deal with it? Mel, I’ll use you as an example. You’ve been to the Stanley Cup Final. You played in those games. You know how hard they are. But if you went in and talked to the whole team and tried to explain it, it’s not going to work. There might be some guys that understand it a little bit, but you have to go through it. You have to live it. You have to play it. This is, I think, an outstanding opportunity here for our young hockey club, to go through these games and lay it on the line every night. It’s that important.”

As a follow-up, Murray was asked what could be done by veteran players, such as Ryan Smyth, to help the younger guys…

MURRAY: “He’s been through it. A guy like O’Donnell, Scuderi, they’ve been through it. I think this is important stuff for a veteran guy, just to have some fun. Just deal with it guys. It is what it is. When you have those veteran guys that are practicing the right way, getting ready for the games and saying the right things in the dressing room, you just prepare the normal way. Don’t change anything. If you feel good, and confident with the way the game is going, just stay the same. I think, when you go through it, the younger players are going to take giant steps.”

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