January 14 practice quotes: John Stevens

On the “level of importance” of Monday’s game versus San Jose:
I don’t if they’re connected the way things have gone and the importance of the game. I think it’s a big game no matter what. If you look at the division and the conference, it’s getting really crowded. I think everybody’s posturing for critical points within the division. We are, San Jose is, Anaheim is. Kind of like we talked about yesterday – it’s an important game with points on the line with playoff implication.

On whether he’s more concerned with shot generation or on defense:
I wouldn’t say there’s a whole lot of concern on the defensive side of the puck. I actually think we’ve cut down what we’ve allowed. I think we limited their chances last night. They probably had more chances when we got behind and tried to chase the game a little bit than we did through 45, 50 minutes of the hockey game. But I think with that, the better you defend, the more you have the puck. The more you have the puck, the more time you get to attack. I think last night was a tight game, but we talked to our team. There’ll be a lot of playoff-type games moving forward. A lot of division games, a lot of teams are going to shut the neutral zone down and are not going to give you a lot of rush play and are going to force you to put pucks in and forecheck, so it’s not surprising the number of chances that have come down. I think the shot totals in the league have gone up from the norm. You’re going to see teams start to lock it down a little bit with every game being more and more important and the playoff picture getting tighter and tighter, so we’re going to continue to forge ahead. We’re trying to cut down on the chances against and do more with the puck when we have it.

On whether the power play was looking for the perfect shot on Saturday:
Well, I think we’ve made strides in that area with our power play. I think you want to have good execution on the rush, get in the zone and get right into attack mode. The way Anaheim kills, they do a really good job and they front pucks. They give you some of the perimeter stuff, but they try to take away the middle of the ice on you. I think that should be the philosophy that I think worked for us lately and that works moving forward I think you should attack, shoot and make plays from recovery, and I think Anaheim did a good job of getting in the shot lanes last night. I think they’re passive until they get an opportunity to get pressure on a puck or a bobbled puck and they become very aggressive. But I certainly would like to see us really adapt and maintain and commit to an attack mentality where we’re looking to shoot first.

On any concern that Darcy Kuemper has sat for too long:
No, Darcy’s going to play. He’s done a really good job of getting ready to play. I think he and Billy have a really good understanding. He studies video, he gets stuff implemented in practice for his game fundamentally to keep him sharp, and preparation for an opponent, maybe some tendency they have or if there’s a lot of back-of-net play or lateral plays or things like that that he’ll Billy’s certainly aware of and he’ll be aware of, but he’ll be ready to play. [Reporter: He’s used to sitting long times-] Well, it’s a tough job as a back-up. If I gave you a job description of a back-up goalie or a seventh defenseman you’d probably turn it down, right. To ask you to work your ass off every day and be ready to play and maybe play a limited time, a lot of guys would hand it back to you and move on and do something else, but he’s got the right mindset. He’s got really good personality, he works hard at his game, he stays sharp, he uses practices to stay ready and it’s worked for him well. He’s done a good job with it. [Reporter: What is the best job in hockey to have?] Your job. [laughs] Comment on the game all you want, nobody holds you responsible for it. [Reporter: I always thought it was the person who hands out the per diem money, right?] I’ll be honest with you. I’ve been in hockey my whole life. Playing’s the best you could ever do, and players will tell you that. When the game’s over and it passed you by – Foxy, you could probably attest to that. There’s lots of great things about the game. There’s nothing like playing the game. Getting out there and competing with your teammates, to me, is the best thing ever.

-Updates on Jake Muzzin and Trevor Lewis, and a quote on the centers’ play were used in today’s practice report.
-Lead photo via Scott Dinn/NHLI

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