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Playoff Practice Quotes: April 29

by Colorado Avalanche / Colorado Avalanche
On Center Matt Duchene’s Availability For Game 7:

"It's funny because when I met you guys I said, 'He would play about 10 minutes, play on the fourth line.' But 2-0 I put the plan in the garbage can and was, 'Let's go.' I thought he responded well. He played a really good game. It was normal for him to be a little rusty, but I thought he played outstanding."

On Duchene Remaining On a Line With Forwards Ryan O'Reilly and PA Parenteau:
"Yes, he will."

On The Avs Playing In a Game 7:
"It's a great experience for these guys. You cannot win a Stanley Cup without winning a Game 7. Here we are. Our players are going to learn how to play a Game 7. How great is this? They are excited about it. All year we battled hard. All year we were even-keeled. All year we wanted to have that home-ice advantage, and we surprised the world of hockey by finishing first in our division. Today we receive the benefit of it: we're playing Game 7 in our building, in front of our fans. Our fans are going to be excited. How exciting is it for Denver, for not having playoff hockey for the past [four of the last five years], and now you're involved in a Game 7. Our fans are going to be excited. They are going to bring a lot of energy to the building and to our players. They are going to play a major role at the start of the game for our team. No doubt in my mind."

On The Avs’ Keys to Game 7:
"I loved our X’s and O’s yesterday. I thought our X's and O's were very good. I thought we did a good job in the neutral-zone forecheck. I thought we did a good job in our forcheck. I thought our [defensive]-zone coverage was very good. Kept [Minnesota] at 23 shots, two empty net [goals]. I mean, 21 shots? It's pretty impressive, going from where we were. I thought we had a really solid game then. What it is going to come down to is what I said before [Game 5]. I'm not going to use the same words, but it's about battle. The one-on-one—the one-on-one battles; moving your feet; being involved in the play. If you win those battles it makes a big difference."

On His and The Avalanche’s Approach to Game 7:
“We have to play the same way as we did the last game and compete and do a good job. I think if I look at the big picture, we were almost the best two teams in the last stretch of the season. Then it's normal for what we have seen so far, both teams going in Game 7. They played well in their building; they won big games. We played well in our building. We had to play well. Both teams had to be resilient at some point. Then tomorrow we're going to have to be again resilient, but like I said before, I love to have that game in our building."

On If The Avs Have Put Enough Pressure On Minnesota Goaltender Darcy Kuemper:
"I guess I have to say, ‘No.’ I guess I have to say, ‘No, not enough.’ We did in Game 5, but I'm going to give them credit, every time we brought the puck to the blue line they did a really good job of boxing us out. Their wingers did a good job of blocking those shots. They certainly protected him very well, but we counted about 14 scoring chances yesterday. Twelve to 14. We had our chances, and three or four times, if you look at the scoring chance, he looked behind him. Sometimes it's better to be more lucky than good, and yesterday I thought it was a good mix."

On His Worry About The Psyche of Young Players, Like Nathan MacKinnon, In a Game 7:
"Who better than me to say that I don't believe in that. In 1986, Game 7 against Hartford (Roy’s Canadiens defeated the Whalers 2-1 in OT, with him between the pipes). Just go out there and play the game. Just go out there and play the game. We never ask [MacKinnon] to carry the team. He did more than we expected to be honest, but at the same time this is good depth. This is a good team. We have a good team. It's on everybody. We're going to need the 20 guys that are going to be dressed for that game to play a hard game. Everyone has a role. If you play five minutes don't think this guy isn't more talented. Those five minutes could be a difference maker. A good body check, a good play to the net, scoring a goal, blocking a shot, you don't know what it's going to be, but everybody is extremely important to our team in a Game 7."

On The Team’s Mindset Before Game 7:
"First of all, we know we played a good game [Monday night in St. Paul]. That's first. This is very positive to me. Then if you keep going, now you have to focus on playing a good game and competing. If we compete well then we'll be in good shape. We don't have to worry about our neutral-zone or offensive-zone play. If you have four or five things that you have to worry about then it's hard to be focusing. Now all we have to focus on is playing the same way and focus to be ready to play a solid 60-plus [minutes]."

On The Importance Of Goalie Play In A Game 7:
“They have a few chances, you want your goalie to make some good saves to keep the team in the game. But again, it’s a team game, and everybody’s going to have an important role. But [I] can’t disagree that the goaltender could play a major role in a big Game 7.”

On His Coaching Approach Before A Game 7:
“I’m going to meet with them, and I’d like to have their input. That’s the first thing I want. How they feel about their game and things. From there we are starting talking, but I’m going to show them the good things, and we certainly want to see us repeating those things and more. Show them what did work well for us, and I think this is very positive. Then guys go home: they have to sleep well, eat well, drink well and come to the game and be ready. It’s as simple as that.”

On His Message For Avalanche Fans:
“The message is clear. They’ve been outstanding for us all year. The players wanted to have a great year for our fans, and here we are, Game 7. That cannot get any better than this for, hockey. I mean look at our conference. It’s amazing how the playoffs just show how it was all year. It was tough to make the playoffs. Two series win in Game 6 and two series going to go in Game 7, and we were what, less than 30 seconds, to have three series going in seven games? It’s pretty amazing how tough this conference has been, and how tight it is. Small details make the difference unfortunately and we’re going to have to play those small details really well. This is great for the game of hockey, and it’s great for our fans in Denver. The excitement of our fans, walking in the street, seeing how thrilled they are about the team. It has grown, it’s not even funny, since the start of the year.”

On The Avalanche’s Power Play:
“How good the power play was yesterday. I thought they had great chances. We had many trips into the net. We score a goal, we almost score right after, when Dutchy (Duchene) came in front of the net. That was a pretty good chance. As a coach you want chances, you want to see your team putting pucks on net, and that’s what we did.

“Right on the first power play you saw that the duo of O’Reilly and Duchene clicked pretty well right of the bat. Second one, bang, puck is in the net. Third period we had a great chance. I think Jamie missed a backhand that went just over the net when Dutchy cut in front. You can not ask for any better than this.”

On Difference Between Preparing For Game 7 As A Player And A Coach:
“It’s very different. As a player, by now I’d probably start thinking about going home and being ready for tomorrow. Here, I’m going to be [at the practice facility] until three or four in the afternoon. As a goalie you’re focusing more on yourself. As a coach you’re focusing on the details: the 5-on-5, the power play, the penalty killing, the 4-on-4 situation, what happens if we break a stick, what happens this and that. All the details you need to think about. Then after, you start to think about what kind of matchup you want tomorrow. Who do you want to play against [whom]? I’d say coaching is probably a little more demanding, but I love it.”

On His Memories From His Final Game (vs. MIN in Game 7 Of The 2003 Conference Quarterfinals:
“What I remember about that game is we played against a team that just competed. They were well coached by Jacques Lemaire, and he took what was a 3-1 lead for us, and they beat us here in Denver in Game 5, they beat us in Game 6 in overtime, and they beat us in Game 7. I just saw a group that was resilient on the other side all year. This is how they made the playoffs. It’s a bit of what we have been doing all year. I think it should not have a big affect on our team because there are not many players from then still with us (smiles).”
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