Q. Curious how the mind-set of a coach changes once you get into the playoffs. You establish at least somewhat a sense of normalcy throughout the regular season; does that get altered once the playoffs begin?
RANDY CARLYLE: I think what happens is everybody tries to raise their level, and obviously the intensity that's required to have success in the playoffs is something that builds from within, and it's a credit to the players because everybody knows that playoff hockey is different than the regular season.
Our focus goes to one team and it goes game-to-game and the matchups that you try to create. You do a lot of reviewing prior to your first game, and then it's the culmination of a lot of work through the course of the season and then your prep work for the playoffs; so it definitely does change.
Q. What about for you, personally, just in terms of how you approach your days, your mornings, your afternoons; do you try your best to keep it normal?
RANDY CARLYLE: You try your best to keep it normal. There's a routine we go through and myself personally we don't change ours.
Yeah, we do have some stuff we'll try to do the days leading up to the first game, but really the day of, we'd like to keep things as normal as possible because we know that there's outside pressures. What we try to do is focus on the one thing at hand and go back to the things that you normally would do. So there's not really a drastic change in your preparation from a game day point of view, but all that work is done.
And then as a coach, you're always questioning, did you do enough. You're always looking back and saying, hey, did I get that covered; did we cover this; did we cover that. And sometimes, you're always looking and saying, well, maybe did we provide them with too much information.
So it's a constant battle you're always going to deal with. We think that we have a template that we like to use and we'll continue to use it.
Q. The way you play, it's a physical, on-the-edge style, towing-that-line style, how much of an intimidation factor is there, and did you get a sense that last year that teams were altering their styles in order to keep up with yours, and was that playing to your advantage?
RANDY CARLYLE: Well, I don't know if teams did it last year. It sure took place through the course of this season with the lineups that have changed and the way that people are approaching us. We like to play a north south game and we play physical, but intimidation to us is you have to win a puck battle. It's not always about the fisticuffs and whatnot. It's about the ability to take a check, to make a play and to make the right play and to be physical and to stop progression and play our game.
We always respect the opposition, but first and foremost, we have to respect the system that we have in place and the structure that we try to create and we go out and play it to the highest level.
Q. What's the status on Corey Perry
, can he be ready for the start of the playoffs, or are you hoping for him sometime in the first round of the playoffs?
RANDY CARLYLE: With Corey, I think the best-case scenario would be somewhere in the middle of the first round. He's doing extremely well. He's got full range of motion.
But with the severity of the cut -- and really, the depth of it was the issue, because they had to actually open him up more, repairing the muscle that deep. The original cut was deep, but now it's enlarged, so it could be repaired quite possibly. We look at it is it would be a huge bonus if he would return to our lineup somewhere around the middle of the first round.
Q. And how much -- obviously you have an awful lot of 2-1 games you won. Obviously not having him in the lineup was probably worth a goal a game almost?
RANDY CARLYLE: Well, I don't know, things seemed to go in streaks for goal scorers, and Corey has been one of our top scorers.
But we also invited another guy back in our lineup, and No. 8 has been picking up the offense. We think that with our group, we are going to have to play tight hockey. We have had our fair share of challenges offensively, but we felt we would be able to provide some more offense from our back end and that's held true with Mathieu Schneider. Unfortunately the Pronger suspension has kind of limited his input here as of late, but we'll have him back for the last game of the season and into the playoffs.
Q. Do you look back, you're watching Minnesota load up on all those tough guys; does a smile go to your face or how does this work?
RANDY CARLYLE: I don't know. I'd look at it and say, hey, you know, that's their team, that's the route that they chose. We have chosen a route that we tried to apply three years ago when we came here, and we've had some success with it.
Obviously teams have taken notice of that, and you see more of those types of players in the lineup, and specifically in the Western Conference.
You still have to play the game on the ice, and it's the skill and the speed of the game that separates teams. We think that we have to play that up-tempo game. Other teams have chosen to add certain types of players. The bottom line, it's got to be played out on the ice surface, and it's all about the structure and the ability to execute.
Q. Your record over the last few weeks, did that even exceed your expectations given the injuries of Perry and Giguere; and if you can point to any players who have played a leadership role to keep the team focused?
RANDY CARLYLE: When you talk about injuries and depleted lineups, it's part of pro sports and team sports. The one thing is that it's always a test to your depth, but I think the mind-set of your players is really the key. And they should be rewarded and they should receive all the recognition, because those are the people that went out and have done it.
Scott Niedermayer stepped up his game. Teemu Selanne
stepped up his game. Todd Marchant filled a major role. We brought a young player up in Bobby Ryan
that's made a contribution. These are the things that are required when you have other people that are maybe garnering more minutes previously, and then you have some people that have an opportunity to step up.
That's what teams have to do. To have success in the NHL, you have to have depth and you've got to be prepared that you're going to utilize all of the people that you have available to you.
Q. Do you expect to play some tight games in the playoffs, and you picked up Schneider and Bergeron for more offense from the back end; obviously Pronger is an asset and him being under the microscope a little bit more now, any concerns there with him trying to straddle that line without going over it with the physical play?
RANDY CARLYLE: Well, there are always concerns and you're not going to put yourself in a situation that has developed before, and we have dealt with things and issues as every team has to, and that's just one thing.
Yes, we've talked and we've discussed and made sure that we want to temper our enthusiasm in some areas. On the other hand, people have to be allowed to play their game to be effective. We don't want to change people. We just want to make sure that people are understanding that there are some circumstances now outside that will draw more attention to you if you do make those mistakes.
Q. You've got some time off here; how much can you peek ahead to possible matchups, or there's so many possibilities that you don't even bother?
RANDY CARLYLE: Don't even bother. We scoreboard watch like everybody does, but I think it's dangerous to say you'd like to have this matchup or that matchup.
There's good teams, and you can look at the standings and the parity that's in the league. Every team that you're going to play is going to be a very dangerous hockey club, and the playoffs are a different season, and everybody starts from square one and it's zero wins for everybody.
So you know, I like the attitude, you'd better be careful what you wish for.
Q. You play the teams in your division eight times and everyone else four; do you have an advantage playing a team you've played eight times, or is it too familiar?
RANDY CARLYLE: I don't think there's any advantage personally. I think it's all about the preparation, because as I stated, it's a new season.
Yeah, you know the teams that you've played more obviously, but when you've played in the conference and have history of playing other teams that you know them not quite as well; but through the use of video, the use of pre-scout, there's a lot of work that goes into your preparation for whatever teams you're about to face, and that's good teams out there.
Q. I've talked to Dave Tippett about this in the past, also, but the way the Pacific Division has been set up the last few years and the competition, it seems like a lot of the rivalries, especially between you guys and San Jose and with Dallas almost has this playoff-type feel, especially in the latter matchups in the regular season. How much does that prepare a team in that division for the playoffs, just how tight everything is all season?
RANDY CARLYLE: Well, again, it's one of the things that you don't wish for. You wish that you could win all the games. But as I stated, those are very good hockey clubs. Dallas has an excellent team. San Jose has really had a strong year. We feel that we have a hockey club that can compete. And the emergence of Phoenix has surprised a lot of people.
All of those things factor into a very, very competitive division, and I think it's good for the fans. It raises the level of the game, and it only raises the level when the playoff starts, because everybody is back to zero; you're all starting over and the first team to win four games out of seven. And the parity is there, so it should make for some interesting matchups and some very, very intense hockey.
Q. When do you start turning it over from regular-season mode to playoff mode? Is it this week that you start looking at it, or wait until those two days to make the mental adjustments?
RANDY CARLYLE: I think what we do, we'll utilize this week for a little bit of rest. We've had a very hectic schedule, and we have an opportunity to have five days off before our last two games.
So what we'll try to do is try to get as many of the bodies that are banged up rested and healthy again. We'll have a workday tomorrow. We'll have an optional practice on Wednesday, and then we'll prepare ourselves for the weekend.
There's some things that we like to do in our preparation for the playoffs, but we think that's better served if you do it just before the opening game. There's two days that we will have, and possibly three days before we open up; and we have a template that I talked about earlier that we go to and there's some things that we'd like to do in our preparation.
We don't know who we are going to play yet, so we have to worry about the things that we can control. And we still need two points to clinch home-ice advantage, and that's very, very important to our hockey club.
Q. Being you don't know who you're playing, there's a chance that it could be Dallas. So when you're coaching the game last night, are you also looking at potential matchups over the course of what could be a seven-game series, as well, or are you just in the moment coaching that game?
RANDY CARLYLE: I think it's more in the moment. I think last night was an important game for both hockey clubs.
Again, Dallas has had our number this year. They have had success against our hockey club, and we felt that we can be competitive against Dallas, but in the previous games, we won the last two against them. We won one last night in a shootout which is probably not the same as winning outright.
But in our minds, it's going to be competitive. They are a good hockey club, and we feel that we have a hockey club that can compete. The most important thing for us in last night was to get the two points any way we could, and we were able to accomplish that.
Q. Brian Campbell's impact in San Jose is evident by their record; are they more important, guys like that, the puck-rushing defensemen, are they more important?
RANDY CARLYLE: I think there's an example and Brian Campbell's addition to San Jose has given them a whole different element from the back end.
We have enjoyed that with Scott Niedermayer in our lineup for three years here. We went out and made a commitment to get Mathieu Schneider, which is another player along those lines. We have added the Bergeron kid at the deadline because those puck-moving defensemen are of a premium, and you've got to have guys that are mobile back there and remove that puck from your zone.
We think that the strength of our defense will be our asset that we can take forward into the playoffs, and Brian Campbell has been a huge asset for the San Jose Sharks.
Q. What's the mind-set of a team that's going into the playoffs that is the Stanley Cup Champions? Do you have an idea -- obviously you don't have to prepare the team, they already know what they had to go through last year in the playoffs to win. Does that make it easier?
RANDY CARLYLE: I don't think it ever gets easy. From a coaching standpoint, we've dealt with a lot of issues over the course of the season. And we haven't won the division; we're still in competition for home-ice advantage.
Going into the playoffs, I think when the playoffs start, we're not the Stanley Cup Champions any more; we're competing to be. I think that's the mind-set we'd like to have is remember how difficult it was and remember the things that you had to do and remember the sacrifices that you had to make and remember the bounces that you got; it was because of the hard work and the commitment that the team made, not because you're the Stanley Cup Champions, that's not going to come naturally. People are out there to earn it and there's no easy way. You have to win 16 games to get to that pinnacle, and the first one is the most important and every one that goes beyond that will become the most important.
Q. Your second-line center Doug Weight; how has he been?
RANDY CARLYLE: He's had his fair share of struggles offensively. We didn't dress him last night. It was a tough decision for a coach to sit him, he was a healthy scratch. We just felt there was some work to be done and he'll get another opportunity to get back in our lineup.
We think that it would be quite possible that Doug Weight would make a major impact for us; it wasn't happening as of late. We'll visit with it. We'll get him rested and make sure again that we review everything and we'll go forward, because he will get another opportunity.
It takes people like Doug Weight and people with that kind of skill level and experience behind them that will help our hockey club in crunch time and that's what we are looking for.