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NHL STANLEY CUP FINALS: BLACKHAWKS v LIGHTNING


June 14, 2015


Joel Quenneville


CHICAGO, ILLINOIS: Practice Day

Q.  Coach, you talked last night about the opportunity here, the excitement that will be there, the emotions.  Does this team, with the experience and everything, do you have the confidence they'll be able to have the balance in this situation?
COACH QUENNEVILLE:  Our team's been a lot in these situations, played in some big settings, some big stages, a chance to win Cups before, some new guys as well.
It's a whole new process for some guys, a new situation being at home for the first time.
You know, it's an exciting time.  I think our guys, they know how to focus and prepare properly.  I think over today, going into tomorrow, we got to be excited.  We liked how we played last game, knowing we got to be better than that.  There's a lot of good things coming out of yesterday's game that we liked.

Q.  Since you started on the series in mid April, does it feel like time is flying, or does it feel like a long, hard grind?
COACH QUENNEVILLE:  It's been a long process.  I know when you lose in a conference final, seventh game in overtime, trying to get back to that same spot, it seems like it's a long time.
Making the playoffs this year was a battle.  In our own division, it's a battle.  We have a lot of good teams we have to fight through just to get two points.  Then you have a series like we just faced against Anaheim after two tough series.  Here we got a great test, as well.
Our team is very resilient in a lot of ways.  It's definitely a process.  It's not an easy journey trying to get to the end.  But at the end, when you look back on it, that's what makes it so valuable.

Q.  Joel, when people talk about the forwards on this team, the first two names are Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane.  You have a guy in Marian Hossa, who you said the other day should be a Hall of Fame player.  Does that fit with his personality, he kind of hangs in the background, or is it just the nature of having those other two guys on this team?
COACH QUENNEVILLE:  We got a lot of top guys on our team.  I think Hossa quietly goes about his business.  His production is very consistent.  He doesn't play a flashy game, although he is fun to watch, the way he can control puck areas, his backside pressure, how he can skate with and without the puck.  He's got some great speed to his game.
I just think when you look at a hockey player, I think he's the whole package, bringing the intangibles that make him great.  But we got some real top guys that probably maybe take away him getting a little bit more fanfare.  I think he's comfortable with the way it is.

Q.  Joel, I asked a couple of your players this.  When they brought in the salary cap, it was supposed to create parity, make it an environment that's not conducive for a team to be on the verge of winning three Cups in six years.  How have you done it?
COACH QUENNEVILLE:  I think each and every one's kind of been a different recipe or different group.  We had the young group in 2010.  We kind of revamped half the team at the end of that year.  Give Stan a lot of credit, coming out of that lockout year.  That was a tremendous start to that season, carried that momentum right through.
Different group this year as well.  Made some acquisitions at the deadline that helped us get to where we're at today.
But the core that's been here since 2010, they lead the charge game in, game out, preparation‑wise, focus, attention to detail, play the right way, send the right message.¬† I think that's received properly by their teammates, linemates.¬† They make guys around them better as well.
It's a fun group to work with.  They come ready to start the game on time.  You couldn't ask for more.

Q.  Joel, since 2010, how has your approach changed in situations like this where you have a clinching game before you?  Do you do anything different now?
COACH QUENNEVILLE:  No, I think we got the same preparation going into it.  I don't think you want to change too much of your mindset.  I think you don't want to get ahead of yourself.  You don't want to think about the end.  You got to think about your opponent, starting, the importance of every single shift.
So I think our focus is on the job and the task at hand.  We got a lot of work to do.  We're coming off the game that we were looking for last night, and we're looking for our best game tomorrow.  We're going to need it.  That's our mindset:  don't get ahead of yourself.

Q.  It's hard to think about the big picture.  How much different of a coach or better of a coach are you than when you were in St.Louis and Colorado?  Can you step back in the summertime and appreciate what you've been able to do in this sport so far?
COACH QUENNEVILLE:  Well, I think you should get better in a job every day.  You get a little bit more experience.  You get different situations.  You know the players better, the league better, might know your opponent better.  Every season's different.
I think you got to evolve a little bit with the way the game has changed.  But pretty well kept the same approach, how we work with players, how we deal with individuals, communication lines.  The important thing is it's about the team, accountability.  A lot of things go into it.  To me it's never about me, it's about the group around us.  Try to maximize everybody's effectiveness.  Team comes first.  Go from there.

Q.  Joel, your guys were saying they sensed that the team was getting better as each series goes along.  We saw that in the Anaheim series.  How do you explain that?  Is it you making adjustments with mixing up lines, changes the lineup?  Is it them getting more comfortable?  How do you explain this pattern of your team getting better?
COACH QUENNEVILLE:  A lot of it is our top guys rise to the challenge.  The bigger the game, whether they have a settling influence in the locker room, their linemates, they make guys around them better, the way they prepare.  They know it's an important game.  The bigger the setting, they rise to that challenge.
It's a compliment to them.  I think our team game relies on consistency, predictability, not wavering too much.  That helps, as well.
The players are the ones going out there to do it.  We feel if you want to progress in games and series, you got to get better as you go along.
The Anaheim series I did think Game 6 and 7 were the best games we played in the playoffs.

Q.  Joel, obviously a lot has been made about how your top four defense play in a game.  When you have Kimmo sitting on the bench as opposed to a younger guy, does the dynamic on the bench change?  What does he bring to that dynamic?
COACH QUENNEVILLE:  Kimmo brings us dependability, reliability, experience, know how.  I think he defends well.  Offensively he supports the attack.  He doesn't play a lot of minutes, but I think he's been real solid for us in the two games.  Added a nice dimension of being reliable and predictable on the back end.

Q.  Is he vocal on the bench?
COACH QUENNEVILLE:  I'm not at that end of the bench too much.  I can tell you the guys that are not at that end of the bench.

Q.  As a coach, what is your biggest concern with what you have to do to make sure your team is prepared for this moment coming up?
COACH QUENNEVILLE:  We don't want to change too much our approach.  We don't change how we're going to practice tomorrow, going into game meetings, what we say to the team.  Make sure we're ready to play.  We want to get off to a strong start.  Our concentration, our focus, be ready for your next shift, make it your best one.
I think that's as simple as we put it.  We don't want to change and deviate too much from how we do things.

Q.  You talked about communication.  Kris Versteeg, how do you punch the right button with guys like him?
COACH QUENNEVILLE:  We've had some guys in the playoff this year that have experience, missed some games.  It wasn't because of health issues.  Those are always challenging situations for a coach or a player.  How it's received can be delicate.
I think at this stage, it's all about the team.  We know that one of our strengths as a team and organization is our depth.  Sometimes you use it.  Sometimes I think at the end of the day you got to make sure that the player understands, and you got to work your way through it.
In his case, he certainly was not happy, but nothing you can do about it.  Go out there and practice, play it like a game, keep yourself ready.  I loved his response, in this series particularly.

Q.  With how effective Tampa was first four games forechecking, clogging lanes, was there any emphasis on skate the puck out rather than pass it out?
COACH QUENNEVILLE:  I think the pressure is they forecheck well, there's not a lot of room, not a lot of space, not a lot of options or direct plays.  I thought we moved better with and without the puck.
I think we got to be quicker.  That's the one thing in the first four games, one of the strengths of our team is our quickness and pace.  Hopefully last night was the start of us taking off.

Q.  You guys lost Michal Rozsival to an injury, but got Patrick Kane back a month earlier.  A lot of major injuries to your opponents.  How fortunate do you feel that basically your team has stayed healthy over this run?
COACH QUENNEVILLE:  Every game is different, every series is different.  Situations like that, they're all part of hockey.  That's why we talked about depth, the importance of it, the need at critical junctures that somebody has to jump in and fill a hole, rise to the occasion.
Steeger, like last game, makes a big play on the goal.  Vermy missed a game, scored three big goals.  Could go on and on.  That's part of finding your way through.  That's what makes it so challenging trying to win, it's not easy.

Q.  Are you planning a different speech tomorrow night?  Will you be a bit more emotional tomorrow?
COACH QUENNEVILLE:  My speeches are no good.  I don't want to go there (laughter).
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you very much.
COACH QUENNEVILLE:  Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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