October 26 practice quotes: Darryl Sutter

On whether Tuesday’s game was a well-played game, with not a ton of chances:
I’m not sure of them, what they would’ve said about their game. They were obviously coming off the big game in Dallas, the shutout game, and it was real similar. It was no score after one period, and then Dallas made a couple mistakes in the second and they went up two. Columbus’ forwards, they’ve got a high-scoring team. If you looked at their lines last night, the way it was spread out, they had a 30-goal scorer on one line, a 30-goal scorer on another line, a 27-goal scorer on a line and a 23-goal scorer. That’s on four different lines, so they’ve got a lot of ammo. They’ve got good goaltending, and with Murray out, they’re still a real mobile defense. They’re a good team. I thought we played pretty well. It was two or three shifts in the second period. We talked about our second periods, but quite honest, we’ve controlled the puck, so last night we didn’t give them between the red and blue any chance to. If he wasn’t willing to skate, and you’ve got to chip the puck in and they come back and score, that was the only odd-man we gave up. And then the power play goal, we had a chance to shoot the puck before we took the penalty, put the puck at the goalie, and we end up taking a penalty on the same shift. It’s just little things like that. That’s how close teams are.

On whether the team’s trajectory has settled and is trending well:
Well, we lost our first three games, Jon, and we thought, other than one period in those three that we played well enough to win. But, still, if you play well enough to win, your goals against in terms of quality against, in terms of goals against, you have to continue to nail it down. You have to. … You can score three goals, that’s got to be sufficient. There are a lot of nights that when you’re giving up three goals, you’re going to lose a lot of games. [Reporter: That quality against, I don’t want to put words in your mouth. I’d imagine you’d be pretty happy. The team isn’t giving up much, from what we’re seeing against in terms of the scoring chances against these last two games.] As I’ve said. I’m into one period against Philadelphia where I didn’t like the odd-man situations and the turnover situations against us. Other than that, it has not been an issue for us.

On breaking the schedule into small chunks, and the upcoming five-in-eight:
I think we looked at it starting yesterday as 7-in-12, so it’s the way we’ve looked at it as a group, and what we’ve tried to do is manage our practices and make sure we’re giving guys what they need for games to be involved in that. There’s also your back-to-back, and then not an easy turnaround to come home to later, so this is a tough stretch. That’s why winning last night was really important, because it sets it off, otherwise you’re behind the eight ball. [Reporter: I’m with you 100% with Columbus and the way they’re going too, but when you also look at these next five teams that you’re playing, these are teams that have accomplished a lot in the last several years. You have the defending champions at the end of it, you have Chicago, St. Louis.] I’m looking at it as how we have to keep pace in our division. I think that the Canadian teams are for real in our division, and they’re really good hockey clubs, and we’re going to have to keep pace with them. We know that, hey, San Jose is the defending conference champion, and with the players they added this summer, they’re a better team. There’s only room for three teams the way the rules are set up, and when you start fooling around with that wild card stuff, you get in trouble. That’s the only thing I’ll take from years past — the year we didn’t make the playoffs, it was basically into a wild card thing or the last goal thing, and we were one game short, so we don’t want to get into that. You’ve got to keep pace in your division. You get too far behind, every game you win, you get a chance to cut into somebody. You have to stay competitive. You can’t look too far ahead at who your opponent is or what they’ve done, any of that. You have to stay very focused and just the one game of trying to find ways to improve.

On whether Tom Gilbert’s presence has helped keep Drew Doughty’s minutes lower:
Well, I think Gilbert has gotten better. We’ve seen it through camp, and he was off a long time. Greener and him will be guys that we’re going to work like that, and it’s important that the player that we’re playing – I’ve said it that Derek’s going to have to be a good partner for those guys, and, quite honest, Drew’s minutes, we’d like to keep Drew around that 25-[minute] mark, and that’s what we’ll do, and that makes him a really effective guy. That also says that if it’s going over that, obviously overtime always adds in, because he starts and if we don’t score, he’s going to be back up there again, so you’re going to add two to three [minutes] right away. If you look in the league, if you do it today, there are probably 10 guys that are in that 27-[minute average], and they’re the guys that should be. As long as their teams are doing well, then that’s a good number for those guys. They like it, and they can handle it.

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