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May 16, 2016
St. Louis, Missouri: Practice Day
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. (No microphone.)
LOGAN COUTURE: They're good at doing that. Overall I think we had a lot of shifts where we cycled down low, tried to break them down in their end. We did a pretty good job of it obviously. Scored more goals.
Q. (No microphone.)
LOGAN COUTURE: They don't make mistakes, don't turn pucks over. Pretty simple. They get it out. Their D men block shots. They're good at clearing the front of the net.
Q. Do they remind of you L.A. a bit?
LOGAN COUTURE: Somewhat. I mean, L.A., their forwards are probably a little bit big. Kopitar and Carter are big guys with speed. These guys, they've got some good guys up front as well, though.
Q. (No microphone.)
JOE THORNTON: I took care of it last night, so it's fine.
Q. Logan, in terms of L.A., didn't seem to give up a lot of loose change or rebounds out front, very solid in that aspect. Is there a way you can force him or force those opportunities?
LOGAN COUTURE: Yeah, more traffic. I think in the third, there were a couple. One hit the post, kind of landed there. They do a good job of boxing out and clearing sticks out around the net.
We need more traffic.
Q. Joe, the Blues have talked a lot about on the PK, they really don't want to let you set up. How do you combat that?
JOE THORNTON: Just move around, you know. I think our power‑play's pretty free flowing. Really just can't key on one guy. We got five guys that can hurt you.
I think for us it's just the way you move around, it's really hard to defend.
Q. Joe, your line, other than maybe scoring, were you pretty pleased with the way you played? Anything that you take out of that game positively? Then both of you, tipping pucks, how have you developed that skill over your time? How long did it take to get good at it?
JOE THORNTON: Yeah, I think as our line goes, yeah, we played okay. I think we still got an extra gear we can give.
But, you know, it seemed like we had the puck a lot of the night. We had some good chances. We would like to finish on a couple more obviously.
I think we still got another gear in the three‑man group.
Q. The skill that it takes to tip pucks. How do you develop it at this level? How difficult is it to do?
LOGAN COUTURE: That's probably a better question for Pavs than us. He's the best in the world at doing it. I think asking him would be better.
Q. Joe, the beard thing, obviously trying to stir up some stuff from last night. What do you think about that? Do you think the Blues are trying to make you play their game? What is your general feeling about all that?
JOE THORNTON: It's all good for me. Just gets you more in the game. I think it gets you more involved in the game. That's fine by me.
Q. Logan, you mentioned the second period, that was the game you wanted to play. Looking back during the course of the regular season, you were very good on the road. Can you take any of that road experience, what you did during the regular season, into tomorrow night? Can that pay off?
LOGAN COUTURE: I don't know too much. Playoffs are a lot different. I think we can learn off the first game. We did some good things. We'll look at some video today, see what can we do better, move on and get ready for the next one.
Q. Joe, you have taken a lot of these off days, strategic rest. Today, after a game like last night, what is the idea today? Just stay off the ice? How will you get back in gear for Game2?
JOE THORNTON: I think it's real easy. The mindset is we go tomorrow and try to win a game.
As far as today, I really don't know what the plan is. I'm sure we'll have a meeting here probably in a half hour after Pete gets done with you guys.
If guys want to skate, they skate. If they want to get a workout, they get a workout in. If not, just hang around here.
We've done this for the last probably three or four months. This is what we're accustomed to. The coaching staff has done a good job of saying, Hey, whatever you need to get ready for tomorrow, do it. Guys have been responsible with it. So it's been good.
Q. Joe, the last time you guys lost games, you came back in Game5 and 7 for wins.
JOE THORNTON: I think this team has shown short memory. Get the last game out of your head and focus in on the next game. I think we've done that real good this post‑season. We'll see if we can do it again tomorrow.
Q. A couple of questions for Joe. Are you any better defensively now than you were? Is it just people noticing what you do defensively now?
JOE THORNTON: No (laughter).
I think playing with the guys you play with definitely helps. But I think I really haven't changed my game too, too much to be honest with you.
Q. What about playing the wing at this stage of your career?
JOE THORNTON: Well, to be honest with you, I think we have three centers. I don't think any of us are wingers. I think Tomas is a center, Pav is a center, I'm a center. Whoever takes the faceoff is the center at that particular moment. We all call ourselves centermen. Call me center, please (laughter).
Q. Is that partly why that line works?
JOE THORNTON: I think so. All three of us can play in the defensive zone no problem. We all know the responsibility. All three of us take faceoffs, so that's not a problem either.
Yeah, I think also we all kind of see the game all through the same way, being a centerman. So it's helped, yeah. It's definitely helped.
Q. Justin, talk about the Blues forecheck you saw last night, compare it to another team, maybe L.A.
JUSTIN BRAUN: I would say L.A. is the closest thing. They get on the forecheck hard. Their D are pinched up. They're looking to turn pucks over, like we are, create offense.
But, you know, it's all about how we execute in the breakout, too. Slow that down, you know.
Q. Either of the centermen. You guys have seen all kinds of penalty kill strategies over the years. Are the Blues doing anything different or changing it up? Are you guys capable of doing a power‑play if they're doing a certain penalty kill you're not expecting, switching up right away? How does all that work?
LOGAN COUTURE: Five or six different breakups that we use. Last night our entries needed to be better. I think we stalled on the left side entering the zone.
We're going to figure it out and go from there. They did some things that's going to change the way we enter the zone, so...
Q. Logan, on zone entries, do you target specific players?
LOGAN COUTURE: No. With their D men, what they did last night, we're going to have to do something different.
Q. Justin, how did you feel about yourself and Marc‑Edouard, how did you feel about your game last night?
JUSTIN BRAUN: I thought we were pretty good. Most of the shots we gave up, we were out there on the outside. You know, their one PK goal we were out there for, going to look at the video and learn from that so we don't give that one up again.
Q. Justin, anything about Backes that makes him difficult in front of the net?
JUSTIN BRAUN: No. More or less he just goes there and plants himself, gets that early body position.
A lot of times you just got to front those pucks so it doesn't get to him. A little more difficult to move a guy like that out from the front of the net.
I think we just got to get out and block more shots in situations like that.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, guys.
Questions for coach.
Q. You guys have had a serious lead throughout the playoffs. Does anything change at all facing a deficit? Business as usual?
COACH DeBOER: No, nothing changes. We didn't win. We've been on the other side of that. We've also had leads in series and seen them disappear quickly, too, so...
Nothing we need to react to. I think it was one game. I know we're going to be better. I'm sure they're going to be better next game, too.
Q. Peter, I know you're not going to tell us any moves you're going to make tomorrow night, but when you ponder that stuff, what thinking goes into that? You made some moves where you moved guys, I'm thinking Marleau here, moving them back and forth. What are you looking at when you're looking at that?
COACH DeBOER: I think when you look back at the game the next day, I think you have to get a real perspective for what happened before you do anything drastic.
Again, we're not going to overreact to it. It was a winnable game. Probably had more quality chances than they did.
If we're coming out of that game having been dominated possession, chance, weren't getting anything going offensively, then you look to shuffle the deck. But I don't think that was the case.
Q. Pete, what goes into when you decide whether Patrick should be a center or winger? What do you see the benefits either way?
COACH DeBOER: It's game to game, you know. Two Patrick Marleaus, one plays center on the third line...
I think we've been effective with three centers down the middle, Couture, Marleau and Thornton. We've also been very effective with him on the wing.
I think two things come into play. You balance are you better as a team and is the individual better. That's the balance. I'm not here to make Patrick Marleau feel good. We're here to win games and we're going to put him wherever we feel we have to to win games.
Q. Just wondering if you could explain the trust and the confidence that exists between you and players on a day like today where you can say we're not going to skate or work on anything today, we're just going to look back. You have been doing that a lot this past season, giving these guys the rest when they need it. How has that evolved till now?
COACH DeBOER: I think we came into the season, we have an older group, and we travel more than anybody in the league. I think those are two things you can't hide from. I think the answer is pretty clear. We want to be and have as much energy as we can come game time.
We have a very intelligent group. A lot of hockey sense. We can sit and video for 20 minutes. They can make the adjustments or fix the things we need to fix without us having to put the equipment on and walk through it on the ice and expend that energy. I think that's why we've been allowed to do that.
Q. Your last two losses, you came back in Game5 and 7. Does that give you confidence that you'll be able to respond quickly here in the series?
COACH DeBOER: We're confident in our group. Again, this might take seven games. We might go down 2‑0. I'm not concerned about it. I know where our group is. I think we feel confident that however long this takes, that we have the game to come out on the other end of it.
There's going to be a lot of heavy lifting between now and the end.
Q. You probably saw the beard tugging last night. Do you make any coaching points to your players about that kind of stuff or do you rely on them to work it through?
COACH DeBOER: We're relying on the officials to do their job. St.Louis is one of the most penalized teams in the league, regular season and playoffs. They need to call the game accordingly. Need to make them pay a price for being the most penalized team in the power play, which we didn't last night.
Q. Do you subscribe to the theory of physical play, hitting early on in the series, pays off late in the series?
COACH DeBOER: You know what, we've played as physical a team as there's been in the last decade, the L.A. Kings in the first round, went nose to nose with them. Who wins that hit total? I don't know. Half the time I think those numbers are so random that they have no effect.
For me, it's about battles and are you inside, are you winning in going to the dirty areas of the ice. That's much more important to me than a number from some guy sitting a hundred feet from the ice deciding what's a hit and what isn't a hit.
Q. On the practice question. You were scheduled to practice today. What was it that made you change your mind?
COACH DeBOER: Just our routine. During the season, you've been with us, we haven't practiced in these situations. We're not going to change that today.
Q. Different schools of thought on maybe the game‑winning goal. Do you want Burns to vacate so that Martin Jones can see the puck or would you prefer him to contest that shot?
COACH DeBOER: I thought it was fairly uncontested wasn't it? I didn't see it as a contested shot.
Q. Is that how you would like him to play that play?
COACH DeBOER: I'd like to see us stop it (laughter).
Yeah, I mean, when you turn the puck over, they get a shot. I think Jonesy would like to have it back. Jonesy has made some big saves for us. Those are going to go in sometimes.
Our response as a team is you have to support him with more than one goal. That's the bottom line.
Q. Did St.Louis' penalty killing do anything you did not expect? Is your power play an area you need to adjust?
COACH DeBOER: St.Louis' penalty killing did nothing we haven't seen before this season. When our power play doesn't score, it's either the goaltending is great or our execution is off. I think it was a little bit of both last night.
But we've always managed to fix that. I have confidence we're going to get that fixed for next game.
Q. Having a chance to coach Joe Thornton, who has been known so long as an offensive producer, do you think his defensive game or his 200‑foot game is not appreciated in the league?
COACH DeBOER: I know it's appreciated by the important people, and that's us in the room, and the coaches. This guy plays as honest a game as anyone I've coached.
I think in general Joe as a player is probably underappreciated just because he spent his entire career, most of his career, on the West Coast. If this guy's playing in Toronto or Montréal or New York or one of those markets, he's a living legend.
He's that good and he's that impressive a guy.
Q. Did you know all that before you coached him?
COACH DeBOER: I had an idea. But I didn't have an appreciation for how honest a player he is, how hard this guy works away from the puck, how badly he wants to win. I don't think until you're around that every day, you don't have a real appreciation for it.
Q. Joe was just here, talking a little bit about playing the wing. He said, Please call me a centerman. There's three centers on that line. He thinks that's what makes it work. As a coach, when you put that line together, you have three big center personalities trying to figure out how they're going to work. Do you give them a little more leeway to free‑lance than you would more traditionally?
COACH DeBOER: I think we pride ourselves on being interchangeable on the ice. I think in order to play pressure hockey, you have to be. You can't wait, Well, that's that guy's job, we have to wait for him to get there to do it.
That's our team's philosophy. We're interchangeable. You have to have smart players to do that. All three of those guys are smart players. It's fairly seamless.
Q. Were you happy with the pace of the game last night? Would you like to see it get up and down a little bit more? Is that some of that the way the Blues are playing?
COACH DeBOER: I thought it was okay. I thought it was two teams, you know, again, that came out a little tentative, feeling each other out, getting a feel for what each other is going to do.
You can watch as much video as you want, but until you stand out there, feel it live, see with your own eyes what they're trying to do, what we're trying to do against it...
I think the pace was probably a little bit off because of that. There was a lot of icing, especially early in the game.
I think it will get better as the series goes on. I think we've got an idea now of each other. I think it's going to go up a notch.
Q. Does it help if the pace increases for your team?
COACH DeBOER: Well, sure. I think it helps for everybody, yeah.
Q. Is Matt skating today and is he an option at all for tomorrow?
COACH DeBOER: I don't know. He's day‑to‑day. I think he is skating today. We'll see how he feels tomorrow.
Q. St.Louis obviously clamped down pretty good and played a strong defensive game getting the lead. What did they do or change from the second period to the third that made them much more effective defensively?
COACH DeBOER: Well, here is how the game went. First period, 1‑1, two teams feeling each other out. We totally dominated the second period and lost the period. That happens. Nine out of ten times, we come out of the second period with a 2‑1 lead, it's a different game.
They had the lead going into the third. I think when you have a lead in this league, it's tough to come back. You don't have to step outside the box. You don't have to push a little bit.
We had to open it up a little bit in the third to try and score a goal. Got a couple odd man's going the other way. That resulted in that.
The second period is the game. That's a game that nine times out of ten, we're leading going into the third, it's a different game, but it didn't happen.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports