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May 15, 2016

Ken Hitchcock

St. Louis, Missouri: Game One

St. Louis – 2
San Jose ‑ 1


Q. How good was your goalie?
COACH HITCHCOCK: He was really good in the second period when we needed him. That's what happens. You're going to need him sometimes.
I thought he made big saves in the second and helped us.

Q. First game, maybe ebbs and flows.
COACH HITCHCOCK: We haven't played a team like this. This is completely different. The other two series were similar. This series and this team that we're playing against is completely different.
This is no different than playing LosAngeles. They're a heavy, hard team, strong on the puck, a lot of wall battles.
We haven't had a series like this. It took us two periods just to even get close to the emotional level on the compete side to get going. We'll be a lot better in Game2, being ready for that.

Q. What were your thoughts on the intensity of this game with your players?
COACH HITCHCOCK: What do you mean by that?

Q. How they played tonight.
COACH HITCHCOCK: Well, I thought every puck battle was a battle. You know, both teams are disciplined and controlled, so you're not going to see goofy stuff after the whistle. If this is the level of hockey that's going to get played till the end of the whistle, it's going to be a tough battle for both teams, real tough battle.

Q. Did somebody give you any indication that you had a chance to win the challenge there?
COACH HITCHCOCK: Well, it was varying information, so...
Seemed like the right thing to do.
When I looked at Bergy, I saw Bergy absorb the puck. You know, he was looking back on it. Might have been a little deep. League was looking for goals. I was just trying to help them out.

Q. What did you see from your penalty tonight?
COACH HITCHCOCK: Our special teams were excellent. Our power‑play was excellent. Our penalty killing was even better. They were both good. They were the reason for the victory.

Q. What did you think of Lehtera's play overall?
COACH HITCHCOCK: I think he was like our whole team. We had a very good start, but there was a lot of room for us in the first period. Then when they got dialed up in the second period by them, we had to make some emotional adjustments to play in the third.
I thought the first 15 minutes we played in the third was outstanding. We could have buried it with the odd‑man rushes we had.
We have not played in a game like the second period all playoffs, nothing like that. Maybe a little bit in Game 6 in Chicago, but nothing close like that in the Dallas series.
I thought he, like a lot of other players, took a while to get up to the emotional level and the compete level on the puck, at the puck, all the time.

Q. In addition to the penalty kill, you had to deal with them pulling their goalie six on five. You've seen that, have done a good job it seems.
COACH HITCHCOCK: Yeah, I thought we handled it really well. They took a point shot. Ells looked behind him, went off the glass, was in the zone again. I thought we did a great job. We kept it in the zone. Are you kidding me?
Couldn't get it out. Couldn't win a faceoff, couldn't get it out. We weren't good on it. We can be a lot better in that area, too. We had chances to win a couple battles and lost them. We got to be a lot better on that.

Q. We were talking yesterday about playing a confined game at home, simple plays. Did you feel like you got that type of game on home ice tonight?
COACH HITCHCOCK: No, no. Go play on the road. Pretty simple. We're good on the road. When we did it in the third period, we were really good. But we have to do that on a consistent basis.
The next play is to find the ice behind because we're playing a team that's committed to do that, and we're going to have to be that way, too. When we were in the third period, we were really good. That's what we need to see.
If we look at the first 15 minutes of the third period, we're going to like a lot about our hockey club.

Q. Who is your third line? Is that a good problem to have?
COACH HITCHCOCK: That's been the strength of our team. It was born from adversity. It's allowed players to get scaled up. It's helped us a lot.
We don't really have a third line. I would say right now we're at times not even sure who our first line is. We have what I think of as three second lines. They can play in various stages and various positions. It's strictly zone matchups.
You saw Lehtera's line go out for a lot of O‑zone faceoffs, which is a good thing. That's the way we do things. Stastny can do the same thing. In a game like today, the Steen line had to take the brunt of a lot of D‑zone situations. It just flat works for us.

Q. What has been the key to Backes having the best post‑season he ever had? What's been the secret?
COACH HITCHCOCK: I think he's able to play as a hunter. I think he enjoys that. He probably plays 40% center ice, at best. Plays as a right winger. He's able to be a hunter. I think it allows him the freedom to get on the forecheck, to stay in the offensive zone a little bit longer.
I think it allows him to be a net presence and feel comfortable doing that. I think it's, quite frankly, his best position. He can play center ice. We use him obviously on faceoffs as you saw tonight. But he's much better as a hunter. He's done a good job all playoffs.
When we use him and Berglund and Steen or a combination of three or four guys in there, David is able to play as much right wing as he can, he's a pretty good player.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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