March 4 practice quotes: Darryl Sutter

On the team remaining focused and not looking ahead in Thursday’s win:
We were good. I think we’ve stayed on a real similar pace the whole season. We’re hitting all our short term goals and what we’ve tried to do. Basically, we broke it down into trips and home stands, and played a bunch of games in a short period of time. Broke it down like that, and I think other than three times this year, we’ve hit every one. Over the course of a long schedule, it’s why we’re in a playoff spot, and that was our whole goal, and that’s what it’ll continue to be.

On whether first place is “kind of irrelevant,” given the focus on being a playoff team:
It’s kind of I haven’t even said it once this year, so it’s kind of I’m not going to say it this year. It takes care of itself. If you’re trying to be a playoff team, that’s a very substantial jump when you weren’t a playoff team and you’re trying to be a hundred-point team. If you’re trying to be a hundred-point team, then you have a chance to kinda be in the division race, and we’re kinda in the division race. It takes care of itself. We’re way more interested in the gap between our points and the team that’s not in the playoff’s points. There’s no Wild Card in this division, so you have to be in the top three. If you’re in the top three, September 1 we said that. October 1, and you just sped right through 63 games and said, ‘that’s good.’ That’s what they do.

On Kris Versteeg’s debut:
I thought he worked hard. There’s an adjustment for him. Again, I’ve said this about guys coming from the [Eastern Conference] and even though he’s played a little bit with Chicago in this conference, but this division is different, and there is a difference in style from Carolina to us in terms of routes and expectations. It’ll take a while. I mean, thankfully he’s a forward. I’ve said this lots, and I’m saying I’m thankful he’s a forward, because there is some margin for error as a forward rather than a defenseman that you’re not familiar with. We did that last year. It didn’t work. [Reporter: That’s the important thing, is learning from things that didn’t work.] He’ll fit in. He played two positions. Even last night, we moved him around. He was with Jeff, and he was on the power play with the group, and then he was with Cliffy. So we moved him around, and we’ll just keep doing it until he’s settled.

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