The following is a transcript from today's press conference with Vancouver Coach Alain Vigneault.
Why do you think Danny (Sedin) and Kevin (Bieksa) are such a good pairing?
They both got real good hockey sense. Both read off one another real well. They can both move the puck. Because they can move the puck, they spend less time defending. We get it out of our end a little bit quicker and into their end. Done a good job of that all year long.
The job that Chris Higgins has done, the transition, why do you think it's been seamless?
Well, I think both of them, in Max's (Lapierre) case, I think it was his third team in a couple of months. I think Chris, it was his fourth team in a couple of years. Sooner or later as a player, you're going to figure it out: you're only going to get so many kicks at the can here.
That probably was a little bit extra motivation from them. And I think the fact that they came, or at one point they were in a Canadian environment, where they knew the demanding of being in the Canadian market, made their transition here maybe a little bit smoother.
They started off on a fourth line. Due to different circumstances, they were able to get a bigger role. They've been able to find ways to contribute and help this team win.
Do you expect Chris to continue the way he has?
I didn't know him personally. But I think for a long time, a lot of people said that he had a real good amount of potential, and now he's showing how much he has.
What was going through your mind on the bench during the second period?
Well, two things: let's put it in, and maybe could have been a couple penalties called on that. It was a big scrum. There were a lot of things going on. Didn't find a way to score. Didn't get a penalty off it. It's part of the game. Have you ever seen anything like it before? How much of a game changer was it?
Oh, there's been scrums like that before, obviously. But in that game last night, I felt that that sort of changed the tide as far as us taking momentum and keeping momentum from then on.
(Question regarding matchup between Ryan Kesler and indiscernible.)
They didn't go head-to-head for all of last night, but for some parts of it. I felt at one point there we needed to make some adjustments there.
They're two elite players, two players that obviously want to win. Similar skill set, size, speed. They can play a skill game just like they can play a more physical game.
It started off on the faceoff as a pretty good battle, and I think it's going to continue as the series moves on here.
(Question regarding the time off.)
I think my best answer to that was the one that I mentioned after our series when we went seven games against Chicago and we got right back at it. At that time I said, This is the best thing that could happen for us, we're getting right back at it. If we would have had nine days off, that would have been the best thing for us to have.
I mean, you got to deal with what you're given, turn it into a positive. I think there are some building issues. I don't control that. My players don't control that. Once everything is said and done, you play on certain dates, you got to get ready to play on those dates. When Roberto (Luongo) assisted on the first goal, how did you see that? Were you worried something like that could be a defining moment in the game, shake confidence in the team?
I don't know. I mean, every player at one point or another is going to make a mistake. You seem to be making a pretty big deal out of it. But their goaltender turned it over on their first goal and I haven't heard anything about that.
Roberto, all year long, has really improved that part of his game. He shook it off. The team shook it off. We went out and played. You know, it's part of the game. (Question regarding the third line stepping up.)
Well, I think it's very important to get contributions from different sources. Last night, that line was able to get on the board for us by smart plays with the puck, good energy at the right time. We needed that. We need that continuing forward here.
We need our fourth line, even though they're not playing a lot of minutes, to find a way to come in and contribute also.
At this time of the year, that's what you need, and that's what we expect to get. Talk about discipline, how important that's been in the playoffs.
I think we've been disciplined all year long. We've really worked on that facet of our game, just playing whistle-to-whistle, being very respectful of the officials, the linesmen. That's what we're trying to do. We're just trying to play whistle to whistle, play hard and smart. Hopefully it will continue.
Niemi is a good goalie. His best quality is that he wins all the time. Is that the most important part for a goaltender to have?
What you're asking me is he's never lost a playoff round?
I'm not asking.
Obviously, quality in any player is to win. I mean, we're all in this business to win. You know, he's proven that on the big stage. So far this year, he's proven that he can win. Makes him a real good goaltender that hasn't lost.
(Question regarding composure.)
Yeah, without a doubt. As you get more experience, you know, you obviously learn from your success. But you probably learn as much, if not more, from your failures.
When you do learn, you do work on improving certain facets, it makes you better individually, it makes you better collectively. I think that's what we've tried to do over the years. That's what we've tried to do this year also, get better.
(Question regarding Cody Hodgson.)
Cody has come in and hasn't played maybe big minutes, but he stepped on during a pressure time in the playoffs, and he's done well for us. You can see that the young man has a tremendous amount of upside. (Question regarding the calls in the game.)
Referees are going to call what they're going to call. There's nothing he can do about it or we can do about it. We just have to play through that. Did he have that kind of a reputation as a junior?
He's always been a very emotional, intense player. He's always been a disciplined player. Sometimes on the ice in the past, not with our team but with other teams, he's been caught taunting or talking to the opposition. Obviously that's caught certain people's attention.
But if you look at how he's played this year, he's finishing checks, he's playing with a lot of intensity, a lot of emotion. He's playing whistle to whistle. He's playing the way we want him to play. (Question regarding (indiscernible) stopping the puck.)
Without a doubt. I mean, you know, a big part of us spending less time in our end is Roberto stopping the puck on rims, setting it up for defense, and sometimes himself beating the forecheck. You have seen him all year long. He's improved that area of his game. We've got a tremendous amount of confidence in him. He's going to keep doing what he's been doing all year.
Can you touch on how he's improved on that over the year?
It's an area obviously he's worked on. I think he's worked on it a little bit more this year. Just proves that, you know, it doesn't matter how old a player is, you can always get better if you work at something. Obviously you don't become perfect, but you can improve. He has improved. I'm really confident when he steps out of his net and tries to make the right plays.
(Question regarding Dany Heatley.)
You know, in the Predator's series against Anaheim, Anaheim's GM said they should start to dive so they would get some calls because the Nashville calls were embellishing.
Last night, that shift that according to a lot of people changed the momentum of the game, take a look at the shift. Could there have been one, two, three penalties on that? You tell me.
It's a tough game. There's a lot of things going on. Everybody's trying to do their best.
Seemed like the Sharks lost their legs late in the game. How much do you use speed as a weapon?
Well, it has been one of our biggest weapons of the year. We're a team that likes to go north, south. We're a team that likes to play fast. When the other team has a good gap, we know we got to get it behind their Ds.