Wednesday May 16th Post Practice Press Conference with Phoenix Coyotes


The following transcripts of today’s press conference comes courtesy of the NHL Public Relations Department.

An interview with:


THE MODERATOR:  Questions for Coach Tippett.         Q.  What can you do to generate some offense in this series?
        COACH TIPPETT:  We have to have better execution with the puck.  We had some opportunities last night.  We had two or three decent opportunities.  We missed the net.  We have to create more opportunities like that. 
        It’s pretty simple.  The execution up the ice, the execution in the offensive zone has to be better.  That goes five-on-five and our power play. 

        Q.  You juggled some lines.  How do you think it turned out?
        COACH TIPPETT:  I thought Gordon and Boedker and Korpikoski were solid against the Kopitar line.  I thought the game was fairly even until we started getting ourselves in a lot of penalty trouble.  The game went downhill from there.

        Q.  What do you expect from Shane in the next game?
        COACH TIPPETT:  We expect him to be better.  That play last night, you’ve seen something like, that I know there’s a lot of focus put on hits from behind.  To me that’s a hockey play that a player puts himself in a vulnerable position. 
        I said last night, if you ever played that game, you’re in that position, at the split second that guy turns, you can’t stop. 
        It’s not surprising to me that Shane didn’t get any disciplinary action on that.  Is an unfortunate incident that happened.  I expect Shane, any player, it would bother him.  He’s our leader.  He wants to come back and have a strong game.  I expect him to come in and have his best game of series.

        Q.  Any expectations regarding Hanzal?
        COACH TIPPETT:  Wait and see how that one goes.

        Q.  You talked about raising the bar at the conference level.  Why do you think that has been a challenge for some players?
        COACH TIPPETT:  It’s interesting.  There’s some players that this is very new to them.  You take a young player like Ekman-Larsson, Game 1, didn’t play very well.  Was a little tentative.  I thought was much better last night. 
        There’s players that, as they go through this experience, will continue to grow, and hopefully they continue to recognize the level you need to get to in order to have an impact on the game.  We just need some more players to find a way to have an impact on the game. 
        In that sense, they raise their bar. 

        Q.  What do you want to do on the power play?
        COACH TIPPETT:  Execute.  You watch how many times we get the puck and we fumble it or don’t make a good play.  Hard to grab any momentum when your execution is so poor.

        Q.  You liked what you saw early on.  Do you like the new line combination?
        COACH TIPPETT:  The Kopitar line was very good in Game 1.  We want to make sure they didn’t have the same success in Game 2.  Our guys we put against them, I thought did a fairly good job. 
        We need everybody to contribute.  We’ve talked about that from day one.  If we have a couple players play well, a couple don’t play well, we’re not going to have success.  We need everybody to play well. 
        The execution and the ability to generate some stuff, as well as defend better, all can improve.  Even though it was a little better last game, obviously the results aren’t there.  We’re going to have to try to improve again.

        Q.  After the game, Smith had some critiques for how the team played.  Sometimes people think it’s not the goalie’s place.  Is that part of the package with this guy, he’s the leader in the room?
        COACH TIPPETT:  He plays hard, just like everybody else.  We expect them to play hard. 
        I think it’s frustration right now from our group, that we haven’t played as well as we like.  I think Smitty feels that frustration just like the rest of our players do.  They care about what we do, they care about winning.  When you don’t get the results you want, there’s emotion and frustration that comes into play.

        Q.  Is the night as tough for Jonathan Quick as it is for Mike Smith? 
        COACH TIPPETT:  No.  Our execution hasn’t been near what it needs to be to get enough pucks towards their net.  You know, you see their mindset is just to dump as many pucks as they could into our net.  The reality is their execution is better up the ice to allow them to do that. 
        Our execution, the ability to get pucks towards there, has to be there.  The ratio of our execution to pucks at the net is not working out, what we’d like to see.  That has to be more. 

        Q.  They had to scramble to get into the playoffs.  Yet, in the post-season they have dominated.  What is the biggest difference in their play from the regular-season to the post-season?
        COACH TIPPETT:  They scrambled because they struggled the first part of the season.  The last part of the season, they played well.  They’re not your typical No. 8 seed.  They’re a team that has good depth, good talent.  Because they’re the eighth seed doesn’t mean that’s where their personnel put them. 
        What it says, it says a great deal about the parity in the league right now.  It’s hard to make the playoffs.  When you have a team like that squeeze in, and still play as well as they have in the playoffs, there’s a lot of good teams that even don’t make the playoffs. 

        Q.  You have a pretty good read on your team most of the season.  What is your assessment of this club right now?
        COACH TIPPETT:  I think there’s a combination of things.  One is frustration of knowing we haven’t played as well as we would like.  Haven’t played to our capabilities. That frustration can’t get the better of us.  We have to find a way to go out and do the things that allow us to be successful. 
        Sometimes people expect us to come out and dominate a game.  That’s not going to happen.  We’re a team that goes out and we hang around the game and we find a way to win.  The frustration of not being able to do that in the first two games certainly was evident. 
        We have to get back to playing the way we can, playing our style, that we can find a way to win.

        Q.  Over the course of this season, this team accomplished many milestones.  And gotten farther than many predicted.  Do you think maybe the perception became that this accomplishment was enough, just to get here?
        COACH TIPPETT:  Not a bit.  The times when you get to this point are few and far between.  You better take advantage of them when you get here.

        Q.  The way the Kings are playing, is that pretty much a model example of how you should play at this level, at this stage of the season? 
        COACH TIPPETT:  Well, they’ve played well.  We can play better.  I’m concerned about our team.  We can get better.  I’m sure Darryl is concerned about how they can get better.  That’s the reality of coaching. Until we play to what we feel like is our capability on a consistent basis, then we’ll find out our judgment then. 

        Q.  What did you think of Stone?
        COACH TIPPETT:  I thought Stone was fine.  I thought it was unfortunate the one break there, I thought should have been an icing call, they waved it off right at the end on him and put him in a little bit trouble.  But he jumped in.  For his first playoff game, he was solid.

        Q.  Aucoin?
        COACH TIPPETT:  Skating again today.  We’ll see where he is tomorrow. 


        Q.  How would you describe the mood of the team right now?
        MIKE SMITH:  Well, I think after realizing where we’re at, there’s no need to hit the panic button.  I think we have to start with tomorrow night’s game, win that one, not look too far ahead.  Can’t worry about what’s happened in the past.  We have to move on, try and get better.        Q.  To get the offense going, how much is it creating traffic and making it difficult on Quick? 
        MIKE SMITH:  It is the playoffs.  You have to do everything you can to create opportunities for your team.  It starts with getting pucks to people at the net.  That’s what time of year it is, to be able to score goals on Vezina Trophy nominee goaltenders, not let him see the pucks or get to the rebounds.         Q.  Switching to the road, is this a good time to get a change of scenery?
        MIKE SMITH:  We played well so far on the playoffs on the road.  Obviously, they’re a good team.  We’re going to have to up our game to try and get a big win tomorrow night. 

        Q.  Other goalies in the past, when they talk about the way their team plays, get in trouble with their team.  Maybe some of the teammates didn’t like it so much. Seems like that’s not an issue.  You’re a leader on this team.  Do you consider that part of what it is you do on this team as a leader, is being honest?
        MIKE SMITH:  I think anywhere in life honesty is the virtue.  I don’t say it to put anyone down.  I think we all know as a team we need to be better.  It’s not just coming from me.  I think everyone recognizes in our dressing room that we haven’t played up to our capabilities.  That’s not one person.  I’m included in that. 
        It’s that time of the season where everyone needs to elevate their game – me included.  We’re in the Conference Finals for a reason.  We haven’t played near to our capabilities so far in this series like we have in the past.  We all recognize that.  I think it starts with me. 

        Q.  There’s a sense of frustration from some guys about the fact that here you are in this big moment and you’re not playing the kind of game you want to play.  How hard is it to not let frustration seep into it way you’re playing?
        MIKE SMITH:  It’s always been frustrating so far.  It’s one thing to lose when you’re playing your best.  When you’re losing games and not playing up to your capabilities, that’s why it’s frustrating. 
        So, we start with one game.  We need one win right now.  That’s all we can control.  We can’t win four games in one game.  We’re not looking too far ahead.  This series is far from over. 

        Q.  How much is it you not playing well or how much is it them taking stuff away from you?
        MIKE SMITH:  They’re a great team.  I’m not taking anything away from them.  They’re here for a reason.  They beat two very good hockey teams that had had great seasons to get themselves in the Conference Finals.  They’re a hard team to play against.  Obviously they have some skilled players that play a hard game.  Their defense take care of their net very well.  Obviously have a great goaltender.  They have the whole package that’s tough to penetrate. 
        Obviously we feel we can improve and play a lot better than we have.  I think that’s a positive we can take.  We haven’t played that well, not even close actually to what we’re capable of playing, and we’re finding ourselves in hockey games still. 

        Q.  A big part of your success in the first two rounds was giving you a good look at the puck and clearing the rebounds. Has that changed in this series?
        MIKE SMITH:  I think they’re just a hungry team.  Like I said, they’re not in the Conference Finals by accident.  They’ve done good things throughout the whole playoffs to give them chances to score. 
        All I can worry about is stopping the puck.  I have to do a better job of that.  Everyone else will look after themselves.

        Q.  What is your sense of Shane, the disappointment of being thrown out of that game?  What do you expect to see from him?  He is out here skating at the optional…. 
        MIKE SMITH:  Got a little bit of a rest last night, so should be skating (laughter). 
        Doaner is going to be hungry to get back in the lineup.  Obviously it was disappointing to lose him for half a game.  But it is what it is.  Can’t take that back now.  Sure he’s been a leader for us all season long, huge part of being where we are today.  Hungry to get back in the lineup and I’m sure he’ll bring the intensity we need to be a better team. 

        Q.  Was the incident with Brown called correctly?
        MIKE SMITH:  I don’t know.  You can be the judge of that. 

        Q.  You’ve been to this stage of the season before.  You know how rare it can be to get this far.  Why is it for some people such a challenge to raise their games to that next level?  Is experience part of that?
        MIKE SMITH:  I think we have some experienced guys that have played in the playoffs thus far.  Obviously there’s some players that haven’t been in it this deep. 
        I don’t think you can use it as an excuse.  I think everyone knows what it takes now to play in the playoffs.  We played enough games now in the playoffs where we know the intensity it’s going to take. 
        Obviously it’s elevated the longer you go, the further you go in the playoffs.  We haven’t yet elevated our game to where it needs to be when we’re this close to the Stanley Cup finals.  We recognize that.  We’ll be better tomorrow night because of it. 


        Q.  Shane, can you evaluate last night, the hit, the way that went for you.  A little disappointing?
        SHANE DOAN:  Obviously.  Incredibly disappointed.  I can’t believe it’s a five-minute major.  I know that the refs aren’t trying to do that, but at the same time I was incredibly disappointed in the fact that was the call.  But it is what it is.         Q.  Based on how you described the play to us, you saw him, were trying to play the puck.  Not surprising there’s no supplemental discipline coming your way. 
        SHANE DOAN:  None whatsoever.         Q.  Down 0-2 going to L.A., can you talk about the psyche of the team?
        SHANE DOAN:  We just have to win the next game.  That is all there is to it.  Nothing we can do about what has happened so far.  We got to find a way to win.  That’s really all everyone is talking about.  Looking forward to getting back on the ice.  

Q.  Is there a deeper well of resolve on this team, based on what you have accomplished so far this year?
I think so. We’ve got a great group of guys that think we can win.  That’s what we’re focused on and thinking about. There is no way you can’t say you are disappointed about being down 0-2 after being at home, but nothing you can do about it now.  We just have to win the next game.  We’ll find a way.

        Q.  What do you have to do to get the offense, specifically the power play, going? 
        SHANE DOAN:  Have a few more chances on it would be nice.  Once you get your chances, get shots on the net.  Simple things like that.  It’s funny how once it starts coming, it comes easier.  Until it does come, though, it sometimes difficult to find.   You just have to have some success doing it, taste a little bit of it. Once you get that it seems to pile on itself.

        Q.  Making it difficult for Quick, making it a harder game for them, is that what it’s about?
        SHANE DOAN:  You have to be better overall in our game.  Our game hasn’t been to the standard that we set for ourselves. Give them credit.  They’ve played well.  They’ve put us in a situation that has made it difficult. 

        Q.  Where is your game at personally?
        SHANE DOAN:  Had a couple good chances in the first game.  Last game had some chances early on.  Obviously disappointed with the way we finished. 

        Q.  Do you feel like the team senses maybe getting to this point was a good enough accomplishment?
        SHANE DOAN:  No, no. 

        Q.  Last night after the game, Mike Smith was pretty honest about what he felt went wrong for you guys.  He’s a leader in that room.  He’s earned the right to say what he has to say. 
        SHANE DOAN:  Yeah.  I didn’t hear what he said.  Obviously he’s a guy that cares and wants to win.  He’s a competitive guy, so… 
        After every game, I think anyone that’s competitive is going to be upset or want to win.  Again, I truly haven’t heard anything that he said. 

        Q.  You were able to kind of negate the impact of the Kopitar/Brown line.  You shut them down, then Jeff Carter’s line comes right at you. 
        SHANE DOAN:  They have good players.  Obviously getting a couple lucky bounces for Carter gets him going, and once you are going it seems easier.  Like I said, it piles on itself, and confidence is an amazing thing.  So far everything’s went right in the playoffs for them.  That’s a credit to the way they’ve played and the way they’ve been coached.  Their players, they’ve been playing great. 
        Once it starts to roll, it seems easy.  We have to find a way to get ours going. 

        Q.  Hanzel would be a great loss if he can’t go for Game 3. 
        SHANE DOAN:  He is a very valuable part of our team.  A huge part of our team, big part of it.  Hopefully they understand it’s a situation where he doesn’t have a choice. 

        Q.  Shane, is there frustration that creeps into the game a little bit at times, and is it important not to let a level of frustration creep in?
        SHANE DOAN:  Yeah.  We got a pretty good group to deal with it, pretty businesslike.  We’ll stay that way. 
        Like I said, we’re not happy with the way things have gone.  We’ll handle it in the next game. 

        Q.  The lines, did you feel maybe that was something that can give you a spark?  Did you like how that changed with you? 
        SHANE DOAN:  I mean, we’re fortunate that our group of guys, we can play with everybody.  Anyone you play with on our team is a good player.  You’re excited to have an opportunity to play with anybody.  We’ll find a way to get it going in the next game. 


        Q.  How can you generate some offense in this series?
        RADIM VRBATA:  We have to if we want to be successful.  We’ll have to generate something.  Seems like there’s not much going on in the offensive zone for us right now.  We’ll have to find something, get a good power play going, get a goal here or there.  There’s not going to be much probably.  If you have to win 1-0, so be it.  We just have to win a game.         Q.  The bar is getting higher at this stage of the season.  Why do you think it’s been a challenge to come up to that level?
        RADIM VRBATA:  I think we responded well against Chicago, responded well against Nashville.  Now for some reason our game is not where we would like it to be. 
        On the other hand we have to give them credit.  They’re playing very well.  They didn’t beat Vancouver for no reason, they didn’t beat St. Louis for no reason.  They’re a good team. 
        We feel we can play better.  If we want to be successful and beat them, we’ll have to be better.        Q.  It’s clear they want to get traffic in front of your goaltender.  Do you feel in Game 3 you need to get a little bit of that back?
        RADIM VRBATA:  Yeah.  Every goalie will tell you they have troubles with the shot they don’t see.  That’s what we have to do, we have to be in his face, create more traffic there so those shots will get through. 
        He will stop the shots that he can see.  You’re right, we have to make it tougher on him. 

        Q.  The way that they’re playing, it’s a good example of how you have to compete at this level? 
        RADIM VRBATA:  You have to play physical, but you have to play smart.  You can’t have games like yesterday where we took so many penalties, put them in five-on-three two times.  They’re a good team and they will take advantage of it. 
        We’ll have to play tough, play physical, but smart. 

        Q.  What do you have to do to get the power play going? 
        RADIM VRBATA:  That’s the question we have been asking all season.  Sometimes there is no magic, you just put pucks on the net and find a way in.  Sometimes you have chances, and it’s not going in. 
        Right now it’s just about getting the puck in the zone, getting shots through, you know, hope for a rebound. 

        Q.  What are you seeing different in the Kings in the post-season versus the regular season?  What are they doing differently?
        RADIM VRBATA:  Well, they’re scoring.  When you look at L.A. Kings, they had a very good lineup and you would think they would be one of the better teams in the Western Conference. 
        For some reason, they were not scoring goals during the season.  They had a tough time doing that.  Right now it seems like they found their game, they’re just rolling with it. 

        Q.  Do you feel the team felt maybe getting to this point of the season was enough of an accomplishment?
        RADIM VRBATA:  I don’t think so.  I don’t think anybody’s thinking about that.  We said it’s nice to win round one, round two, but that’s not what you play for.  It’s not like we are satisfied where we are.  We want to play for the Stanley Cup, go to finals.  That’s not the case. 

        Q.  I sense frustration among your team that you’re not playing your best hockey at the most important time.  How much of that is you’re not playing how you want to play versus what L.A. is doing? 
        RADIM VRBATA:  I think that’s what it is.  We’re not playing the way we can and they’re playing really well.  That’s what it is.  We have to find a way to get better and make it tougher on them. 
        But that frustration is there.  I think it showed yesterday.  As you said, we probably feel like we are not playing the way we can.  That frustration is showing. 

        Q.  Change of scenery might be good, you guys are a good road team. 
        RADIM VRBATA:  We have no other choice.  We lost two home games, and now we have to go on the road and steal games there if we want to have a chance. 

        Q.  The offensive effort has seemed to be taken over by individual play, and you haven’t been able to set up your system or offensive plays.
        RADIM VRBATA:  That first game, they had a really good forecheck.  We played mostly in our zone.  But yesterday, I felt like, before we get into that penalty trouble, I think we had some chances.  We were just not able to score on them or to get a goal. 
        You know, as I said, I think for tomorrow we’ll have to go with the mindset that we will play our best, if we have to win 1-0, great. 
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