December 18 practice quotes: Darryl Sutter

On being in first place as opposed to chasing teams, and whether the outlook changes:
We’re trying to make the playoffs, end of story. That’s it. The goal is the very same as it was at the start of the year. Make the playoffs [Reporter: However you do it? First place? Wild card?] Make it. There’s different stages of how you make the playoffs. After tomorrow we’ll be even home and road, and then we go into a stretch, I’d just said we’ve come off a long stretch Eastern Conference games, and we’re going to get into a stretch of division games. It’s easier for the players and easier for us to keep the players focused on that one. I very seldom even look at the standings. We have a goal that we’re trying to reach, and we’re going to do everything we can.

On a 9-3-2 record during a stretch of 15 of 20 games away from home:
That’s a quality record. As you say, we have one home game in the next six. We’ll just take it tomorrow, and then fly home.

On reuniting Tanner Pearson, Jeff Carter and Tyler Toffoli:
We moved all our left wingers around last night. A lot of it’s depending on again, when you’re on these trips, you’re trying to not let guys slip through the cracks in terms of their performances, first off, and second off, who your opponent is and how you match up. We played a team last night that they’re four-line deep. In fact, their fourth line took a lot of D-zone faceoffs … so if you did it based on that, Kopi, Gaborik and Lucic were out a lot against the Mitchell line, things like that, and we’re fine with all that, but then you’ve got to be able to move the other guys around. We got into a shorter bench again last night, and I don’t like that. We’ve got guys that flat out have to be better players.

On how the team has held up during the longest trip in six years:
I think good. We’ve been able to manage it, give them ice when they need it. The toughest part was the early part of the trip, for sure. For sure it’s not the end of it. Traveling to Columbus, and going to the Eastern zone right away was definitely the toughest part of the trip. I know it’s getting along now, but this is not our longest one of the year. [Reporter: There’s that other one in what is it, February?] We’ve got seven games. We go from Boston to all the New York teams, to St. Louis, Nashville. Washington. It is what it is. I would prefer to play one more game in this trip. And we would’ve liked to have seen some snow.

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