Do months of players saying
'must win' harden them for the playoffs?
“Maybe others have, but I
have never used that term. So maybe others have. Maybe it's come from other
sources. But have we been in a critical situation since Christmastime? Absolutely.
More so, I think the consistency that we've grown into and the consistency that
we've developed is more the point. It has to take another notch as we go to the
playoff level here. But that's something that we have to just continue to build
on. And we've tried to do that all year long, continue to build.”
Reputation as a coach whose
teams play better later in the year?
“Oh, I don't know.
(Laughing), I'd like to win 82 games. In college hockey, it's a very different
setup when you get to playoff time. But one of the things that I do believe in,
and I don't care what level you're at, you have to earn your way into the
postseason, and when you get there, if you want to have a chance to win, you
have to be playing your best hockey.
“We didn't work over 82
games to earn a playoff berth just to get here. So we've been very focused on,
like I said, trying to continue to build our game, grow the things that we're
doing. And our goal is to play our best hockey at this time of year.”
Biggest difference between
college and NHL playoff?
“I can't answer that. I
haven't coached a game here yet. Honestly, I can't answer that.”
“Yeah, like I said, I
haven't coached a playoff game here yet. So, honestly, I could give you some BS
answer, but I won't do that. OK?”
Players seemed relaxed, is
it because everyone has a clean slate, no wins or losses?
“I think so. I'd probably be
the first one to tell you. I think our group started to feel a little bit of
pressure as we came down the stretch. We'd been on one heck of a run. We put
ourselves in a great position. But if you look back at last Saturday's game
against Pittsburgh, we were gripping it pretty tight for the better part of 30
or 40 minutes. But that was a new experience for our team. And we were trying
to cap off the run and the push towards a playoff berth. I feel that's put
behind us now. We were able to accomplish that goal. Now, the focus is on the
opportunity in front of us.
“Are we focused and relaxed?
I don't know what words to use. You can put your own descriptions on it. But
our team's ready.”
Since the Flyers did get
through that successfully, how much does it help?
“It's a small building
block, right? You don't do anything in leaps and bounds. And I think our team,
back through the progression through the year, our team has continued to take
small steps forward. Our leadership group is amazing. The focus and the wont
that is with that group and the togetherness that has created inside the locker
room has created a pretty effective driving force for us.
“We know we've got our work
cut out for us. We know we have a huge challenge in front of us. But I think
our guys relish the opportunity.”
Line-matching more intense
in playoffs than regular season, but you don't have the last change. Thoughts?
“Yeah, we'll be cognizant of
it. But the fact is we don't have the last change. And I'm not sure what the
strategy from the other bench will be as we go into a playoff game. So I've got
some thoughts in the back of my mind. But it's not something that's dominated
our conversation as we've prepared.”