On how long it generally takes for players such as Marian Gaborik to return and feel comfortable:
I don’t know how long it takes. I mean, you’re looking for consistency in his game. Just the way our schedule is, I’d like to get him some contact, but we weren’t practicing, so he’s got to get his contact during the games. You know what? You get medically cleared, and a player feels comfortable with it, and away you go. How long it takes? I don’t think anybody’s the same. There’s no way of saying that. I don’t know. [Reporter: If we knew, we’d be in Vegas, I guess. We obviously saw some good things with Kopi strong on the faceoffs, penalty killing – strong again.] Yeah, I think Kopi’s had a – obviously his numbers aren’t where he’d like ‘em to be or where we’d like ‘em to be, but, you know what? It’s going to come for him. I think he was solid again last night, and he goes right back in and plays a lot of minutes. It’s not easy. I mean, his even strength minutes are probably about right, but it might be a little off, too, because if we’re going to use him on the back end on the power play, that should help him, because he has the puck. He makes plays lots and he’s not going up and down the ice as much. It was good to see him comfortable there. We talked about it the day before, just with the time off if it would affect him back there, and he said it wouldn’t. So we just went ahead and did it.
On whether individuals are able to refine their game through individual instruction and through practice, or whether it will come naturally over 82 games:
No, it doesn’t ‘naturally come,’ and when you’re not practicing, it’s not ‘individual instruction.’ You learn in lots of different ways. You learn by seeing it, hearing it, hearing it, doing it, OK? So don’t forget that. Everybody gathers it differently. [Reporter: The schedule, yeah, you’re right, what you said earlier. The schedule, I mean, the inability to practice, people just don’t even think about that.] I think we’ve had a lot thrown at us. It’s not an excuse in any way, but we’ve had a lot thrown at us from a lot of different angles here in terms of a lot of things, so it’s made it a little bit more difficult for our team, but at the same time, our proven guys, don’t go back to individual improvement. I mean, if you want me to criticize a player, you do it. I mean, we have proven guys who aren’t producing. It’s not like they’ve lost it. It’s not like they’re over the hill or anything like that. They are guys who are proven guys that need to produce at both ends of the ice. It’s not just strictly numbers, offensive numbers. We have a real young group of guys still. If you go to that 26-and-under group, the majority of our team is 26-and-under if you look at it. You know how they’re going to get some consistency in their game is if our established guys consistently do it. You know, it’s still a little bit of guys grasping on to coming off winning, I believe. I really believe it. I think that they have to get that sense of urgency a little bit in their game still.
On Dustin Brown appearing to play well but not producing, and whether luck is involved:
You can look at it in a hundred different ways. You can look at guys who had good regular seasons last year and good playoffs, you’re looking at guys that had average regular seasons and good playoffs, you can look at guys who had good regular seasons and average playoffs, you can look at guys who had injuries over the summer and are still rehabbing. There’s lots of ways to look at it. I mean, you ask about Brownie because Brownie’s an experienced, proven guy. So if you base it on his last season, you know what? You have to build on good parts of your game. Very seldom an experienced guy or a proven guy changes his game to become more effective. There’s a reason that you’re effective, and there’s a reason you have consistency in your game or in your numbers.
On defense pairs he feels most comfortable with against other teams’ top players:
Hey, you know what? We’re good with Robin-Marty or Muzzin-Drew right now. I think that Robyn-Marty weren’t as sharp as they should’ve been last night. [There were] those two rush goals against that, I mean, you can’t give them up. But I’m good either way. I mean, Muzz is still feeling his way back in. Drew’s, I think, finding his game a little bit more than he was early. And Marty’s done a good job moving over. And those guys have got to play serious minutes for us with the way we’re set up, and when you’re talking about [Jamie] Benn and playing serious minutes, well there’s a good chance one of those pairs is going to be on the ice. It’s just the way it works.