Following yesterday's practice in Las Vegas, D.J. Smith met with the media to talk about facing the Golden Knights to start their 3-game road trip, the coach's thoughts on special teams and more...
On the team's last few days in Vegas:
It's been good. There was a little bit of a bitter taste coming off the game with Minnesota but the guys had a good day off…got together in the sun a little bit. I thought the guys worked hard today and that's something we have to get back to. We have to get back to work. I didn't love our last game and our level of compete against Minnesota so the big thing for me on this trip is how hard we work.
Takeaways from their 2-0 loss to the Wild on Monday:
It's about how a veteran team plays. They stayed above us, they got to our net, they grinded us down and we didn't play the right way in my opinion but we're a young team and we're going to have games like that so we have to bounce back and play harder.
Preparing for the atmosphere in Vegas on Thursday night:
It's arguably the loudest rink in the league and it's certainly an intimidating atmosphere so you need each other. It's a great place to play but you're going to have to rely on your teammates to be able to talk. This is where you grow: in places like this. Going to play a big, strong, older team that's on the cusp of winning gives yourself a real challenge. For our young guys, it gives them an extra push and for me, I want to see how we play on this trip.
His thoughts on Erik Brannstrom's game so far this season:
I think he's been great. I think he's well ahead of where I would have guessed he'd be than if you had asked me in the summertime. I know offensively he can move the puck and jump into the rush but his hockey sense and his compete level is really high. He wants to learn; he wants to get better. The other day he was playing against big men on Minnesota and it's hard to get that kind of experience that he's getting right now. I see him getting better every night and I think this kid is going to be a really good hockey player.
Early thoughts on his line-up against the Golden Knights:
We don't know right now so we'll see in the morning on Anisimov's health, he was a little sore, so we'll see in the morning how that goes. In saying that, we've got some healthy guys that are ready to get in and go to work so if he doesn't play, we'll have somebody else in ready to go.
How he evaluates his team's performance:
I'm a 5-game segment guy. I thought in our first segment that we played some really tough teams and I thought we could have been 2-3-0, but we're not so we're going to start a new 5-game segment. The first 3 are on the road and you have to find a way to get points in this league and that's by working. We're going to find our consistency, our special teams will get better and that will help us but I expect that this road trip will be good for us.
His message to the power play units that have struggled to start the season:
We've got to work harder. Penalty killers by nature work hard but the power play sometimes you lay off the gas a little bit and you forget that you're playing against the other team's four guys that likely work the hardest so we have to work a little harder. We have to have a little bit better execution just on simple plays and start to have a little confidence. You get one in the net and you start to have a little confidence and a little fun with it so we have to find a way to get one and when you get one, we'll go from there.
Video: Oct. 16th | Players Practice