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TALKING POINTS: Hitch on team fatigue, Nurse's play & Klefbom's timeline

Full transcript of Oilers head coach Ken Hitchcock's availability with the media following the 4-3 shootout win over Florida

by Staff /

Q: Can you talk about playing in a game where maybe it's not the best game your team has played but you get the two points and they're important?

A: We were exhausted. This is the worst-case scenario. Four-game road trip, travel all day, come back and play. I thought our players really gutted it up in the third period and did a hell of a job. We changed the lines, got more energy from the change in lines in our opinion. Players really helped each other. 

Everybody knew halfway through the first period we had nothing and they just helped each other the whole time. They stayed vocal on the bench, any good thing that went on guys were cheerleading each other trying to help. It's a really good sign. It's a hell of a sign for absolutely zero in the tank. To come up with two points is, for me, really really impressive.

Video: POST-GAME RAW | Ken Hitchcock 01.10.19

Q: You talked not too long ago about when bad things happen the group can sag. That unlucky bounce late in the game might have been something that buckled your team before. Did you like what you saw after that, maybe in particular from Cam? 

A: I liked a lot in the third period. I liked a lot of the things we did. Guys deserve an awful lot of credit for sucking up and playing through. When you see skilled players lose pucks in the middle of the ice with noone around, they've got nothing. They've got no legs, they've got nothing. 

First, you're hoping they don't get hurt because their awareness isn't there and secondly you hope you get a point or get points from the game. To come out of it with two and to keep going and not get discouraged, we scored at the end and got those chances at the end because we refused to shut down on each other. We kept going and kept pushing each other. 

Like I said, these games can really help you moving forward as a team because it's damn impressive what they did. 

Q: Ken, 32 minutes for Darnell Nurse or near that. Maybe talk about the way he's handling added responsibility and what he's making of that ice time right now. 

Video: FLA@EDM: Nurse wires quick shot past Reimer

A: I'd rather talk about the guys we're leaning on. We're leaning on players heavy. We're leaning on Nurse, Draisaitl played 28 minutes, Connor played 27 minutes. That's unbelievable. We're leaning on guys hard, we need to make sure they get rest on days off. The practices for me until the break are irrelevant unfortunately but that's the way it is. 

There's a double day break between some games that we'll get some practice in, or one (practice) anyways. Right now, we're leaning heavy on our top guys. They're the guys who are getting the job done. Like I said, we could use a few more participants but regardless we've got a lot of people who worked really hard today with nothing in there. Those guys, they're going to be in the mid-20s as a forward group and (Nurse) is going to be in the 30s until we break. 

Q: On Darnell, you've been around for a long time and you've seen a lot of players evolve their game. He's talked about wanting to improve in the offensive zone just reading the play and such. What have you seen from Darnell? His point total's gone up, particularly since Oscar's gone down. He's really starting to chip in a lot more. Tonight he had eight shots. What are you seeing in the offensive zone instincts of Nurse and the evolution of that part of his game? 

A: His focus on the ice has widened. It was very narrow when I first came here. He didn't see the 85 feet very well in the offensive zone but he sees the 85 feet (now). Some of it comes from playing on a 1-3-1 power play where he's at the top by himself so he's got to use both sides of the ice. He's gotten very patient in high-pressured situations. 

To me, it's great to see because we get some good news hopefully today or tomorrow on Klefbom and when he comes back and now we've got two quarterbacks running the power play and it gives us all kinds of options. 

Q: There's 10 seconds left, how does the best player in the game get that wide open in front of the net? 

Video: FLA@EDM: McDavid nets second goal to force OT

A: We looked at that. That was kind of chasing. I thought we had it tied up (on Draisiatl's attempt). There's a certain play we use that put Draisaitl open again. I thought that one was in for sure. It's nice to see that one go in but I thought Leon had the game tied up. I don't think anybody on the bench could believe that it didn't go in. 

We caught a break on that one. They caught a break on their goal that gave them the lead and we caught a break when both defencemen left net front.

Q: If you're a coach on your team, what are you thinking that much time, just make sure the one guy we cover is the guy who's won two scoring titles or what?

Video: FLA@EDM: McDavid goes top shelf in shootout

A: For us, there's certain rules you want but the game was so crazy in that zone because we had the puck in the goal crease five times. I think you just try to get a handle on it. I get what's going on but we didn't get a break, before that we thought we had it tied up but didn't get a break. We got a break on that one.

Q: Just to follow up, is there a measurable change in Klefbom's timeline? 

A: No, we need him skating with the group. We're hoping that he gets good news here this week or the end of this week and he's able to skate with our group. Once he's on the ice with us or once he's on the ice handling the puck or skating, doing things with the puck we know our timeline. 

We're still thinking that it's post break but you don't know. Once he hits the ice you'll know. Klingberg was the same thing, they thought it was eight (weeks) and it ended up six so we won't know. Hopefully by the end of the weekend here he'll be cleared to do more activity. 

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