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NHL STANLEY CUP FINALS: BLACKHAWKS v LIGHTNING


June 12, 2015


Niklas Hjalmarsson

Duncan Keith

Jonathan Toews


TAMPA, FLORIDA: Practice Day

THE MODERATOR:  Questions for the guys.

Q.  Jonathan, it's a team game, of course.  But you have a history of being a player who has made the difference between winning and losing for almost any team you're on.  I'm curious at this point of the series what responsibility you feel as the captain to kind of lead the way either on the ice, off the ice, what you say, what you do to get your team through this moment.
JONATHAN TOEWS:  Yeah, I mean, I think for either team to win, it comes down to your best players being at their best and making the difference.
So myself as an individual, I expect that out of myself.  So do these two guys sitting with me, and so do the rest of our team.
I'm not the only one in that room that thinks that way, or thinks as an individual or a player, you need to raise your game to make a difference.
We all think that way.  I think that's a huge reason why we've made it this far.

Q.  Duncan and Niklas, can you maybe describe what it's like to manage you guys on the bench?  Seems like you're not always in the same pairings, there's a lot of mixing and matching, it would be difficult to manage when guys are going on.  Do you help the coaches out at all in that?
DUNCAN KEITH:  We don't help the coaches out.  They're the ones kind of calling the shots there.  Obviously we have certain guys who we end up playing more shifts than we do with other guys.
You know, I think we played enough hockey and enough games to get a sense when we're probably going to be up.  But at the end of the day I think we've got all capable defensemen that are all out there, and we're all being utilized.  Every shift's important.  I think they've done a good job with that.

Q.¬† Jonathan, you talked a little bit about how you're thinking and how other players are thinking.¬† With it being essentially a best‑of‑three, this is where this team has thrived in the past.¬† Can you give me a look into the mindset of this team that's allowed it to do so in those situations.
JONATHAN TOEWS:  I guess in a way maybe a lot of other teams, a lot of other players view this type of situation as having a lot of pressure.  I think we understand the pressure and what's at stake, what's to lose.
For us, I think it's always been a challenge and an exciting opportunity that we're very happy to take on.  I think the first real situation we were in throughout these playoffs was the last series against Anaheim.  I think the guys responded.
Knowing that, we can carry that confidence and be excited about the opportunity we have.  We've been playing for almost two months now.  This is what it's all about.  This is what we've been working for.  There's no better time than now to bring your best game forward and try to do whatever it takes to make that happen.

Q.  You finally scored in the Final.  Now the same thing is coming to Patrick.  Talk about you two guys.  You've been through so many things.  How do you handle that, the frustration until you get that first goal?
JONATHAN TOEWS:  I mean, there's a lot of little things that could go differently and you wouldn't be asking those questions from a player like Kaner or even myself.  In the first game he had like five shots, a bunch of chances.  Game2 he was making plays.  He would have been on the board a few times.
There's no doubt there's going to be situations where the scorers, the guys that score on a regular basis, if they don't produce or get on the scoreboard or score sheet, then those questions and pressure starts to come around.
I don't think Kaner questions himself, or even myself.  We just know you got to keep working, keep finding ways to create chances, eventually believe those bounces are going to go your way.

Q.  Jonathan, the other day Mark Messier said you would have been a great teammate to have.  Can you comment on him saying that?  How do you think you have changed as a leader in the dressing room over the years?
JONATHAN TOEWS:  Well, I don't know about that.  It's a tough question to answer.  Really at the end of the day I think you just try your best to not only learn about what makes you a good player, but what makes you a good teammate off the ice.
I think there's no doubt that I get recognized for maybe what I think some people think are my strengths, but there's definitely still a lot of weaknesses and things I want to continue to build upon.  That's kind of my focus.
Obviously I appreciate the kind words when you hear them from a person like him.  But at the end of the day you got to keep your feet on the ground and remind yourself there's always something to work on, I guess.

Q.  Duncan, Nik, they've been so much written about how tired you guys must be playing a lot of shifts on the back end, how do you feel?  How tired are you at this point in time?
NIKLAS HJALMARSSON:  Well, it's not as bad as you would think, I'd say.  Personally I could have played yesterday.  I could have skipped these two days in between games.  But we're not making the schedule here.
No, you know, this is at the most three games left here to do something great.  It's pretty easy to get motivated and kind of forget about that stuff, just go out there and live in the moment, just think about the next shift, try not to look too far ahead, just take it a period at a time, give everything you have in that period, then see what happens.
You know, you just go out there and try to do your best and give it all, see where it takes you.

Q.  This is one of the closest Finals ever, if not the closest.  What do you think is going to be the difference from here on out?  Is it simply will to win?
JONATHAN TOEWS:  Well, I think definitely will to win plays a part in it, for sure.  I mean, you don't get this far without having that character.  I think this is where it has to come out as much as possible.
You know, having said that, though, it's a team game.  We're able to play our best when we're all on the same page and we're working out there as a group of five, making it easier on everybody knowing where they are.
I think it's going to be a battle.  Both teams have a lot of respect for one another, in the way they play, their team game, with a lot of speed and skill.
You know, I think it's going to be close the whole way here, just like it has been.

Q.  Nik, you don't have a traditional defensive pairing.  As a player on the bench, do you have to be more sort of in tune with what's going on on the bench because of the fact you don't go out in traditional set pairings every time?
NIKLAS HJALMARSSON:  Yeah, sure, we have to be aware of who's up every shift, who's the next call.  You don't want to have an unnecessary penalty with too many men on the ice.
You just kind of have to be aware of matchups and who Kitch wants to be putting out there.  Just try to help each other out and communicate because it goes pretty fast sometimes.  You have to be able to make fast decisions.
Yeah, you can help out a little bit.  But the coaches make the call.  I think we've been doing a pretty decent job of it so far.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you, gentlemen.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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