Blogs > Jack McCaffery's blog

Jack McCaffery is the lead sports columnist for the Daily Times and He has spent several decades covering everything from the Phillies, Eagles, Flyers and Sixers, to college hoops, to high school sports in Delco.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

In pregame chat, Hakstol sounds confident

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.”

Single elimination?

“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.”


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home