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Playoff Practice Quotes: April 18

by Colorado Avalanche / Colorado Avalanche

On His Message To The Team During Game 1’s Second Intermission:

“I didn’t say much. I thought in the second period we got caught on a bad change—they scored the [third] goal—and then at the end of the period I thought we stayed a little too long, and I just want to make sure we were smart about our line changes and the lengths of our shifts, especially going into overtime. Knowing that we were going to play three lines, we could not get caught in over a minute on the ice. We wanted to keep it short and make sure we had the good change.”

On The Avs’ Final Regulation Shift Vs. Minnesota (Three Minutes):
“They’re standing still. [Minnesota] had to move side to side. Yes, we were up and down, and I think it’s like being on a power play. If you go on a power play you could be there maybe a minute, minute and a half, and if you move the puck well it’s not as demanding as, say, when you have to defend.

“I was not thinking about today to be honest with you. Yesterday [there] was urgency, thinking about how we were going to get the [game-tying] goal, and,’ We’ll find a way to rest [Friday].’ That was my thinking. Actually, that’s what we’re doing today. Like we did all year, we tried different type of scenarios, where during the year for morning skate we didn’t go to the rink; we stayed at the hotel and do a gym (worked out). Today that’s exactly what our guys are doing. We had a gym here. I think it’s good not always going on the ice—refocus, thinking about something else. [We had] a couple meetings about how we want to play tomorrow and be ready for a good game. I think it’s easier going that way, to have a routine. If you do that for the first time it’s a little different, but now that we have done it many times during the year, I think it’s not a big adjustment for our players to do it that way.”

On His Mindset When He Pulls His Goalie For An Extra Attacker:
“As a goalie I would love to see my coach doing that. You want to see the team tying [the score]. It doesn’t matter if it happens with two minutes, three minutes or one minute. It’s just a feeling. I know one day it might bite us, but it’s a long-term thing. If you do it 10 times, and on 10 times you score four goals, it’s 40 percent—that’s pretty big. If you give up one goal, ‘What the heck. Let’s keep doing it.’ I think it gives us momentum. It also forces them to defend, that we keep the puck in the zone, they get tired, and the longer it lasts the tougher it is for them to make the right plays.

“It was something I started in Junior [hockey]. I remember one time pulling the goalie at 17 minutes of the third period; I’ve done it [at] 12 minutes. You just look at the score. Yesterday I thought we were playing so well in the third—we were so in their zone—I thought it would be good timing. Sometimes [I] just go with the feeling. I’m looking at this more than anything else. If we have the momentum I’m not afraid to do it early, even if it could backfire on you. I did in junior [at the] 17-minute mark; I’ve done it also when I was coaching bantam in a tournament. We did it in the second period; we had a 5-on-3. We were down [3- or 4-0] and, actually, we scored two goals at the end of the period—made it a 4-2 game. We lost the game, but we did it at the end of the second period.”

On The Play Of Rookie Center Nathan MacKinnon:
“For his first game, three assists … Someone said it’s probably a record or something. It just shows the type of player he is. I’m just impressed with him, from the first time I saw him playing a game for us through now. I know I repeat myself, but he’s been so receptive to teaching, he’s been working hard, he’s always level. That’s the thing. I know who’s going to show up tomorrow. He’s going to be the same guy. That’s pretty impressive.”

On Center Paul Stastny’s Leadership:
“He’s been a leader from the get-go. The guys look up at him, and they have a lot of respect for Paul. Landy (Left wing Gabriel Landeskog) is very close to Pauly and has a lot of respect for him. Paul has been a great leader for us since the start. Yesterday he scored two goals, but he played a really good game. It was more than just the two goals.”

On The Avs’ Multiple First-Time Playoff Debuts:
“I thought we did a good job. Sometimes the first game—I remember my first game—you’re a little bit nervous. Even if you feel that you’re well prepared, you’re always a bit nervous, you’re anxious about how things are going to go. Breaking the ice is sometimes the toughest thing to do. Fortunate for us we did it in a winning cause.”

On Injuries To John Mitchell And Matt Duchene:
“Nothing new to report on these guys. They’re working with Scotty (Scott Woodward, assistant athletic trainer and physical therapist) and Matty (Matt Sokolowski, head athletic trainer), and everything is going well for them. They’re not close to playing.”

On Erik Johnson’s Empty Net Saving Play In Game 1:
“I thought, ‘This puck will never make it,’ and all of a sudden I started seeing it rolling, and I thought, ‘Come on—not like this.’ And it’s bad luck. When you’re clearing, and you’re almost 200 feet [away], and you just pop it up in the air, and all of a sudden the puck goes toward the net … That was a heck of a play by him, heck of a play, but that’s the way we’ve been all year. We backcheck hard, we work hard. We work hard as a unit of five offensively, but we also work hard as a unit of five defensively. Look at the (Avalanche’s) third goal. (Center) Ryan O’Reilly showed great backchecking and took the puck away. It was a pass by their player, and [O’Reilly] cut that play, put it on net, bang, the rebound is in. That shows the commitment that this team is making to play well defensively. We’re not a defensive team, but we want to play well defensively.”

On Trade Deadline Rumors Regarding Paul Stastny:
“Quite honestly, it was not even close from us to make a trade to move Pauly. We said all along that we didn’t want to have rental players, and the only one that we would keep is Paul, because we believe that Paul wants to stay as an Avalanche next year, and we believe that there’s good chance for him to resign with us. Now, how it’s going to happen, it will be up to [Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations] Joe [Sakic] and [Stastny’s] agent to discuss about what it’s going to be. I think Paul has the [Avalanche] in his heart, and I think he loves to be in this town. He loves those fans.”

On The Pepsi Center Environment for Game 1:
“Our fans yesterday were outstanding. It was fun to be part of that game. I’m sure people enjoy watching it on TV, but being live, like I would say on a commercial, it was priceless. It was loud—I almost had goosebumps, at times, at how loud it was in that building. And I think that helps our team. The patience they showed at 4-2, and how loud they got earlier in the game and toward the end, and we tied the game and went into overtime. That meant a lot to every one of us.”

On The Momentum Gained From the Game 1 Win:
“It certainly gives us some momentum. There’s no doubt about it. It has to affect the team, when you’re getting tied with 13 seconds left and losing in overtime. This is a game you felt that you had—this is a game you felt that were under control. That has a to hurt a little bit, but I’m sure they’re going to do a really good job to have their team ready for [Friday].”

On The Benefit Of A Loss:
“I have to go back to my past, again. That’s not the way we were thinking in Montreal in 1986; that’s not they way we were thinking in 1993. And you know what? It’s not the way we were thinking in 1996 in Denver. Guys had played playoff games, but not that many games. The Quebec Nordiques at the time was a franchise that was struggling, and all of a sudden Joe [Sakic] came in with other guys, but they didn’t have much experience. The one that I remember was against Montreal and guess what happened? They got beat (laughs). It’s good for our guys to learn in winning. I think it’s good for our confidence. It shows that what we’re doing is the right thing, and it also gives us a bit of momentum. But Like I said, it’s too early to say how much momentum it will create for us.”

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