December 27 morning skate quotes: Darryl Sutter

On what he’s looking for most in the upcoming stretch:
We go into a stretch – we had a four-day break, and then we get a four-day break again. If you look at it, we play five in, what, seven and a half days or eight days? So just kind of focus on these five and then you get the break again. I mean, if you look at it, then it’s seven games, and then you get a six-day break, so it’s kind of funny when you look at the last week of December. It’s actually almost a month before we get to the all-star game. So there’s a four-day break, a four-day break and a six-day break. Just focus on the games in between those.

On striving to find “consistency”:
I think that’s what everybody’s said and that’s been a frequently used word this year, but if you look at it over the last little bit, our issue would be goals-against, no question. We’re scoring right around three and we’re giving up right around three the last…10, 15 games. That’s not going to get you very far in this league. It’s fun to talk about all that, but…if you can score three, that’s great, but a lot of times it’s still that number in there, that if you’re giving up three, you’re not going to get many points. [Reporter: Is there one thing above other reasons that that’s higher than you’d like it to be, goals-against?] Well, when you look at this last, whatever it is, from about the first of the month, if you were just an analytic guy, we’re dominating games, quite honest. [Reporter: Puck possession, then.] No, we were dominating games. That’s the one you guys want to us, is ‘puck possession,’ but in every area – not you guys, but you know what – if anybody has a hard time, that’s what they go back to now because they don’t understand it. It’s probably the bad goal or the odd-man rush against or the turnover. But at the same time, if we played last night and we scored three goals, and we’re giving up three, that means we’ve got to score four. And if you have all those great opportunities, that means you should’ve scored on the fourth one. [Reporter: Are you finding teams are – I don’t know how to explain it – are they kind of letting you hold on to the puck a little bit in the hope of counterattacking?] I can’t imagine if I talked to the other team that they’re going to let us hang on to the puck. I certainly don’t talk to our team about making sure the other team, let them hold on to the puck. You want the puck as much as possible. … [Reporter: I mean, you see that in soccer sometimes. One team has a lot of possession and they end up losing the game three-nil because the other team got three chances and put them all away.] But I would think that in this league, unforced turnovers would be everybody’s number one source of what you want to get better at, I would say for sure.

On minimizing shots against:
Yeah, I think it’s like 36-to-26. [Reporter: In your favor.] Yeah. That’s significant. [Reporter: It was high earlier though, wasn’t it?] Before? You know what? Quite honest, everybody’s within [a few shots]. But if you’re keeping teams into the teens, then you should be winning a lot more. You should be getting a lot more points. [Reporter: Is 26 shots against too high?] Well, if they gave a trophy, I’d imagine you’d win it if you held ‘em to 26 against. But it doesn’t really matter. It’s an irrelevant stat. You know what? Helene could take their shots tonight and I could take ours, and we might be 10 different of what you call shots. It’s more of the end result.

On specifics on what has to be improved on in the defensive end:
Yeah, unforced errors. If you were at the game [Monday] night, we get one point because the other team ties the game up. But when you have the puck most of the night, then you should win. You should score the fourth goal and you shouldn’t give up the second goal.

On whether he remembers heading into last year’s Christmas break with a loss:
You know what? Just look at the big picture, always. What pace you’re on, where you’re at. [Reporter: Looking at the big picture and looking at the key things, the things that you look at first, that you consider the most important. What kind of shape do you believe you’re in coming out of this break?] As I just said- [Reporter: Just the defensive end.] I think that considering we’ve scored how many goals we’ve scored and then we haven’t gotten the production out of some guys for a month when you look at it. [Reporter: And you power play has picked it up lately, too.] Power plays run hot and cold…It’ll be 20 and it’ll be 15. And they’ll say ‘what’s wrong with it? And it’ll be 20. And that’s based on performers. And once in a while teams change up their power play because top guys are struggling, so you give the workers a chance. That’s really what happens, but it still ultimately comes back to your top guys. When they get hot, then [the power play improves]. You know, still, our goal at the start of the year was to keep our minor penalties down. We’ve done a really good job with that the last month. We should have a better record because of that. We should have a better record because of our goals for. So it’s our goals against.

On whether the team’s energy level was where he wanted it to be after the break:
Everybody who gets to rest for two or three days should have energy if they’re motivated people. Anybody who lays around for two or three days and doesn’t feel good on the fourth day, that’s your fault. They’re no different than you. [Reporter: The Clippers played on Christmas, and their coach Doc Rivers was saying that if you have to play Christmas, he doesn’t want to be at home because the distractions of everybody having their families in and that kind of stuff.] You know, we’ve done it all so many different ways over the years. We used always played Boxing Days. That’s when you traveled lots. Or you always practiced Christmas Eve. Now that there’s the mandatory three days, some teams played on the 22nd, some teams don’t play [until later]. It’s changed so much. I think for the most part, players now do something other than one or two days. The word ‘energy’ has really nothing to do with it. I think it’s more ‘recover’ a little bit if guys are banged up or hurting a little bit or something like that.

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