On working with players to improve faceoff performance:
I think more and more it’s the video of being familiar with who they’re against, especially with the new rule this year. It’s changed a lot, with the stick being down. For example, tonight we play a team that with Zajac and Henrique have taken over 1,100 faceoffs for their team, so they’re primarily guys who are going to take the faceoffs. One’s a lefty, one’s a righty. Guys have different techniques, different situations, meaning the situation being what zone it’s in, what time of the game, what the score is, what they do. With our team, it’s changed a lot over the last couple years where the way the righties and lefties were, they were veteran guys. You go two righties, Stoll and Jeff, and then your lefties were Kopi and Mike for the most part. Hey, you could have one lefty, one righty or two lefties, depending on things like that out on the ice, and it’s changed a lot. I even heard Kopi talk about it when we got Vinny, how important it was to have another left-handed centerman. We’ve dropped off a lot in our faceoffs, and you know what? It’s a learning thing, for sure, but you want to be in the top handful in the league, and it’s hard. It’s really hard to be a good faceoff man. We have some young guys, they’ve been really good and really bad. Basically, we have to get better. Whether that’s a summertime or that’s a development thing, whether that’s a straight faceoff guy, I know Nelly’s worked a lot with guys on their technique, and the difference between playing in the American League and playing here for a lot of guys is that, or ice time here. Hey, guys are losing three or four minutes a game when you think about it, because you’re taking ‘em off the ice. That’s also taxing the other way. That takes on a little bit more on Kopi. You’ll see Vinny going out together, like two guys going out, and you’ll tell them whether to stay or change and things like that. Where it’s become even more, as you go down the stretch and you go deeper into the season and you get into the harder part of the game, it’s like talking yesterday about guys that they’ve got to be hard, they’ve got to understand that it gets a lot tougher and not as much time and space out there. It’s the same thing in the faceoff thing. I mean, you’re trying to get some sort of match-up, especially if you’re on the road, if you lose a draw, you’re done. You don’t get those guys off, and a lot of times it ends up in your net. So it’s a really important part of the game that’s kind of got overlooked a little bit how important it how important it has been for us over the last few years.
On whether the team has allowed fewer goals off faceoffs:
No, we haven’t been good enough at it. A lot of our penalty killing goals are after faceoffs and zone time. If you did it, it’s probably about 20-percent of our goals are faceoff-related, and it’s not necessarily just the centerman on the draw, it’s the next part of it. It’s the clear. Not many faceoffs are won clean. If I’m the centerman, I don’t win many 15-foot clean faceoffs. They’re two-foot wins. ‘I need some help.’ I can say, ‘I can tie[-up], but I need some help, you guys.’ Hey, the last time we played Jersey – faceoff [goal]. But if you go through it, Anaheim against us, goals. It’s really important.
On what he took from the previous match-up against New Jersey:
We didn’t give up much and we didn’t get much. That’s how New Jersey plays. Hey, they get great goaltending. Their special teams, especially on the road are top-10 in the league, and they check. That’s how you win.