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Interview with Coach Todd McLellan

by San Jose Sharks Staff / San Jose Sharks
An interview with: COACH McLELLAN




SCHUYLER BAEHMAN: Questions for Coach McLellan.

Q. Todd, I know you probably talked about Joe Pavelski a million times already. For those of us who haven't been around, what's clicked for him this post season?

COACH McLELLAN: He's very confident, I guess, for one. The way he's being used I think helps him as well. The fact that there's so much focus always on Jumbo's line, sometimes he gets left behind or under the radar. He's been able to capitalize there. He's been very good on the blueline, power play.

Very passionate young man, very astute, attentive to what's going on around him, wants to learn, tries to find an edge any way he can.

He's putting it all together right now. Very confident. So we're happy to have him.

Q. Any thought of lineup changes?

COACH McLELLAN: We'll be close to the same. I think as the game evolves, we'll see what their plans are as far as lineup. It won't be much different.

Q. With Game 1, the way it played out, have you found yourself making very few changes in the last couple days, being a little bit surprised by the fact you didn't have to change too much?

COACH McLELLAN: Well, there's always changes and adjustments. We can't play the same game we did the other night or we're going to end up with the same results. There's areas of the game we have to be better in. There's areas of the game that we liked. There's always some system tweaks here and there with every series and every game.

But it's not a dramatic overhaul. It's small pieces, whether it's individual or collectively. But we do expect to be better in some areas.

Q. If you go with power against power again on the top lines, how do you define or what are the expectations for the third line?

COACH McLELLAN: Well, you know, it's interesting. We'd prefer to go a certain way. But when you're on the bench and there's a lot of line matching going on, for as much as we'd like to have a group of players out against a certain line, they're very good at changing. They obviously prefer Bolland against Jumbo. That's not power on power.

So our third line is either going to play against Bolland, if we get what we want, or they're gonna play against Toews or Sharp. If they're out against that group, they have to be very strong defensively. If they get an opportunity in the other zone, we expect them to create chances.

It's as simple as that.

Q. Not specific to this series, but do you have any theories on what is happening to make the too many men penalty so crazy?

COACH McLELLAN: It's a good question. I've been asked that so many times. You know, knock on wood, we've been fortunate. I think we've only been caught once with it.

It's so intense right now, there is a lot of line matching and juggling going on. You're trying to find that edge, whether it's an extra foot or two on a line change. The games have ramped up, so fatigue becomes more of a factor.

I'm not sure if we're seeing more of those situations called in the second period, but the long line change, the long distance for D men to go, all of those come into play. Perhaps the officials being more aware of it. There's no doubt it's being called more.

We've talked a lot about it in the locker room, being vocal on the bench, know who you're going for. The player going onto the ice I believe is the one responsible. He's fresh. He can read the play from the bench. He's got to make a judgment call.

Other than that, I can't explain it.

Q. Todd, I imagine coaching against different coaches, they have different personalities, coaches styles. What have you found in coaching against Joel specifically that keeps you on your toes?

COACH McLELLAN: Joel is sharp. He didn't enter the league yesterday. He's been around for a long, long time. He's been with some tremendous staffs. He's worked with some of the best players in the world and learned from them. So he has a game plan. He's very committed to it. He wants to continue to execute it as we go along.

His teams are very aggressive. They certainly believe in him. So they've got the right stuff there for that team, and they've certainly responded to it.

Q. The last series you said you didn't want to get too excited on the bench. How have you worked on that?

COACH McLELLAN: Are you talking about me as an individual? The team?

Q. At the end of the game the other night, the last Detroit game, you were concerned the bench was getting a little too frisky. How do you coach bench discipline?

COACH McLELLAN: Players look to us. The very first people they see when we walk into the locker room, they see the coaches' demeanor and presence. If I'm agitated, nervous, not very confident, they're gonna respond to that. I have to carry myself the proper way, the rest of the staff has to carry themselves the proper way.

You talked about the minute of the last game when obviously there was an error on the call. It's quite simple. When it comes down to that moment, I have a choice. As a head coach I can yell and bark at the referees as much as I want, or I can take care of the team and the six players.
What I asked one of our assistant players to do, I said, You take care of the missed call, I'll take care of the faceoff, and we dealt with it that way.

Unfortunately sometimes in the thick of things, the referees don't always communicate as much with the assistant coaches as they do the head coaches.

My focus wasn't going to be berate the two officials for making the wrong call; it was trying to get a 6 4 put together, spend the 55 seconds as much as we could in their zone and try and score a goal so we could tie it up.

Q. What about the last minute of the Detroit game?

COACH McLELLAN: Well, again, you have to be calm. You have to be collected. The players are going to read off of that. You put the players on the ice that you believe in. You give them a plan and you stand back and you watch them execute it.

I think when I talked about the excitement on the bench and the giddiness, if you will, in the Detroit series, we were close to overcoming a hurdle, to eliminating a team, a very good team, and you could feel it on the bench.

I had that feeling when I was in Detroit playing against Pittsburgh in Game 5, and they happened to score with 36 seconds left. We were all excited, so close to winning. You could feel your heart was going. All of a sudden they score. You learn a valuable lesson. You've got to stay composed. You've got to keep that up and down level or meter on an even keel and you've got to be prepared to play.

You can get excited after.

Q. Real deep one here. Do you have a tie or suit that you wear in a situation like this?

COACH McLELLAN: I have a little guy at home that thinks he can put together a shirt and tie and believes that he has the lucky touch (laughter). But it hasn't always worked, I can tell you that much.

SCHUYLER BAEHMAN: Thanks a lot, coach.

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