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What Canucks Coach Alain Vigneault Is Saying

by Staff Writer / San Jose Sharks
Q. Alain, Manny in full gear, is that an encouraging sign?

COACH VIGNEAULT: Having him around the team, he's been a very important part of our group, of our leadership group. I want him around the team and he's around the team. It's that simple.

We're not going to discuss his physical situation, his eye. All I can tell you is I want him around the team, and that's it.

Q. Can you confirm that he hasn't been cleared for contact?


Q. He has not been cleared?

COACH VIGNEAULT: No. Don't go there. We're just not discussing that. Anything else?

Q. You as a team have had the mantra of 'one game at a time.' It's one thing to say that and it's another thing to actually have it. Talk about your group and how much confidence it has this year and how that helps you in the playoffs.

COACH VIGNEAULT: I think for us nothing has changed really. What we've tried to do all year long in the regular season and throughout all the playoffs is stay in the moment. Our moment is the game coming up. Today our moment was the practice to get ourselves ready both physically and mentally. Tomorrow morning when the guys come to the rink, we'll lay out a plan for them that they can focus on and stay in the moment and go on the ice and execute the plan.

Q. As a club, Mike went around and studied some other great organization and what they did. How much has that helped you guys over the last few years to get ready for a moment like this?

COACH VIGNEAULT: Every year I don't think we're different than any other team in the NHL as far as trying to improve yourself so that you can ultimately have a chance at the Cup. We've been trying to improve our organization individually and collectively since I've been here. Obviously I think we've progressed. We've made some steps. Our players are getting better. We're getting an opportunity right now in the conference final. We're trying to make the best of it.

Q. Talk about how important your defense, the mobility they have, are helping the offense for their ability to move the puck?

COACH VIGNEAULT: I don't think in today's NHL that you can have a good offensive team if you don't have a good back end. What I mean by that is, your D's have to be able to beat the forecheck, they have to be able to make some tape-to-tape passes, they have to be able to jump up in the attack when the opportunity is there.

For that, you need obviously hockey sense, you need skill. I think our back end right now is the best it's ever been.

Q. In this series will that be an asset considering the size of the forwards?

COACH VIGNEAULT: I think you've got obviously two teams that can get in on the forecheck, two teams that have defensemen that can beat forechecks. It's going to be an important part of both teams. We'll see how we do.

Q. Any update on Mikael Samuelsson? Jeff Tambellini working on the fourth line, anything to read into that for tomorrow?

COACH VIGNEAULT: We will have an update for you soon on Samuelsson, I'm not sure exactly when.

For Tambellini, just tried something today. Maybe there will be some changes tomorrow, I'm not sure.

Q. If Tambellini gets in, what does he bring that Glass doesn't?

COACH VIGNEAULT: Tanner is more a physical presence. Jeff is more speed and skill, good puck management. Both bring different components. We'll see what we want to do tomorrow.

Q. How much more do you expect out of the Sharks tomorrow night?

COACH VIGNEAULT: Not really concerned about what the Sharks are going to do tomorrow. I'm concerned about our team, our group, how we need to play.

I thought last 25 minutes of that game we played well, we played fast. I want us to do that from the get-go.

Q. Will you have to step up your game as well?

COACH VIGNEAULT: Every team at this time of the year, you need to get better as the playoffs move forward. We're no different. We're going to focus on that obviously for tomorrow.

Q. (Question regarding the neutral zone.)

COACH VIGNEAULT: You have to give them a lot of credit. They forechecked hard. When we were on the power-play, they took some of our space away. I think what happened as the game went on, we got a little bit more urgent, a little bit better execution, and we were able to generate a couple chances. Finally one went in.

Q. Did you like the physical tone that you set early in that Game?@1?

COACH VIGNEAULT: Yeah, I think both teams, that's part of their repertoire, what they can do. It's definitely something with the skill they have up front, the way they can move the puck on the back end. Anytime you have an opportunity to take somebody out with a clean hit, I think you have to do that. I think both teams are going to try to do that.

Q. You're at a point where the demands of these series are so grueling mentally and physically, can you talk about your team's conditioning.

COACH VIGNEAULT: Well, I think we've done a real good job this year of monitoring that, not just from an ice level with Roger and off-ice conditioning level, but with our traveling, giving specific days off to our group so that we are energized. We were energized through the 82-game schedule and during the playoffs.

I mean, I think our guys are in great shape. They're ready for this.

Q. Can you talk a bit about Kevin Bieksa, what he's giving you now with a lot of minutes?

COACH VIGNEAULT: He's giving us what we expect from him. He's a defenseman that can play both ends real well, that has an edge. You know, he knows when it's time for him to jump up in the attack and make something happen offensively. He's done that very consistently and we need that from him.

Q. For the last two years, he's been injury-plagued. Did you think he could get his game back to this level?

COACH VIGNEAULT: For sure. This is my sixth year or fifth year here with Vancouver, but I also had him in Manitoba. He's a very determined individual. He's got real good confidence. I think it's a matter of him getting healthy, in the right frame of mind, and he is.

Q. (Question regarding defensive assignment for Ryan.)

COACH VIGNEAULT: I haven't given Ryan a defensive assignment all year. I've matched him against whoever. I don't expect him to defend that player. I expect him to get the puck, go on the attack while we have the puck and the other team doesn't have it. I've never told him to shut down a player.

Q. Never strayed far from Jonathan Toews?

COACH VIGNEAULT: That's true. That's two good players going at it. I'm sure Toews wanted the puck and Kesler wanted the puck. It was a hard battle.

In this series, whoever he plays against, those guys have three pretty solid lines when he's on the ice and he's got the puck, the other team doesn't have it - or his line I should say has the puck.

Q. What did you like about your team's practice today and can you tell what's going to happen in the next game?

COACH VIGNEAULT: You always want your team to execute and work hard and practice well. I mean, sometimes you say you play like you practice. We've always been a very good practice team that executes real well, works real hard. That's just part of our identity.

Q. Today's practice?

COACH VIGNEAULT: Was real good, so we'll be real good tomorrow.
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