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May 18, 2016
San Jose, California: Practice Day
Q. Watching the video today, pretty much saw what you expected to see?
COACH HITCHCOCK: Yeah, that and more. We were very much in fits and starts. We were good early, not good in the second again. You know, we didn't have a good reaction to what was going on on the ice. We got dealt some of our own medicine.
We'll be much better tomorrow. It's a 1‑1 series. Probably where it deserves to be. We got to go win a road game again. This is familiar ground for us. We've been here before. Got a real significant opponent.
I think the obligation is mostly on us. We got to amp up our game, get back to where we were before.
We had a real good meeting today. I think we're going to put our best games out there now.
Q. What are some examples of what you've been doing to get the team ready?
COACH HITCHCOCK: I can't tell you that because I'd have to shoot you (laughter).
Q. Yesterday the five penalties were from guys that normally keep their heads. How important are they moving forward?
COACH HITCHCOCK: I think it's a collection of they took some of their‑‑ some of their veterans took penalties, too. I think it was the temperature of the game.
The penalties you don't like at this time of year are reactionary penalties. We had two reactionary penalties yesterday, one in the first game. Those are the ones you don't like. Doesn't matter who takes them, veterans, rookies. That's a sign that the other team has a little bit of an advantage, they're making you react to anything happening on the ice. Those are the ones you don't like.
We addressed it yesterday. We addressed it today. It's just how far are you willing to go. Both teams, man, they're pretty committed. I said this to you at the start after Game1, this is a way more physically demanding series than the first two we played in.
They were skating series with, you know, big contact, but not a lot of grind like this is. This is a series that has a lot of grind in it. It's going to be demanding for both teams.
I just want to see us have a better disposition when the grind is on. We got frustrated yesterday when it was on, and we reacted the wrong way.
Q. With them using their speed, getting the puck out of their zone quickly, you can't get in on the forecheck. How do you change that?
COACH HITCHCOCK: Their speed is in their puck movement. We have to have a better five‑man unit doing it. They're stretching us out. They're making us play three and two. We're not at our best when we have to play three and two. That's the stuff, before I'm going to shoot you, that's the stuff we talked about (laughter).
Everything we talked about was being better as a group of five because they have us stretched out into that three and two ratio. That's not healthy. There's too many gaps. They've jumped on some of these gaps now.
Q. Can you talk about how your playoff experience as a coach can benefit you in this series. What are some examples of that?
COACH HITCHCOCK: I said two words today. You go from furious to curious right away. The quicker you can get to curious, the better you're going to be. I've learned that over time.
You're always disappointed and angry when you lose, you're driving home. The next morning you better be curious and looking for things you can fix. We were able to do that right away this morning.
We were all in early, ready to go. Let's see how we can help the players. It is all about the players right now. This is when I think we can be their best asset in being direct.
I also find this time of year direct coaching works a lot better. If you're worried about future relationships, you're in the wrong business at this time of year. So direct coaching, eye‑to‑eye coaching works. We did some of that today also.
It's helping them understand what took place so they get rid of the emotion, get into the tactics of it, then let them play tomorrow, turn them loose.
Q. Were you able to sleep?
COACH HITCHCOCK: I sleep well after losses, I just sleep short.
Q. Any better handle on the home or road thing than yesterday? Ever wanted to get out of town faster?
COACH HITCHCOCK: I don't know about that. I'll tell you when we get back. I think it's really gone on with us all year. Some teams you have like that. That was San Jose, too, for a lot of the year until the playoffs really. They struggled at home, too.
I think we all know what it is. It's almost like you don't want to talk about it after a while because you know what it is, you see it so much.
But we haven't been able to solve it all year on a consistent basis. We're just going to have to learn to deal with it. We've had good success dealing with it in the playoffs, and we're probably going to have to do it again.
Q. When you go through the video sessions, do you call guys out during the meeting?
COACH HITCHCOCK: No, no. In this business, you better praise the individual. If you're going to criticize, you better make sure it's as impersonal as you can get, otherwise you're not going to last very long in this business.
Q. When you lose last night, do lineup changes help in situations like this?
COACH HITCHCOCK: I think they do, yes. I think changing your lineup has a real impact. I think you have to look at it. There can't be any emotion in the coach's decisions at this time. You got to do what's best for the team. You got to remove from the emotion from it.
One of the greatest things we've had going through injuries is flexibility. That's really helped us in the playoffs. You put numbers up on the board, guys haven't got all shook up because they're on different lines, because they played on those lines before.
I think it's been a lot easier for me and less group discussion in doing it because we've done it all year. I don't know if we've been lucky or experienced, but we've made adjustments all playoffs, and every one of them's worked. We're probably going to have to make a few more for tomorrow, and hopefully they work.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Robby Fabbri.
Q. You're a young guy, the veteran ranks are going to tell you about turning the page. How difficult is it to turn the page and focus on Game3?
ROBBY FABBRI: I don't think it's too difficult. We know it wasn't our best game. We know we got a lot more. We know what we got to do to be better, to move on from that and to go into San Jose with a different mindset, come out and play the way we want to.
It's just something we're going to do as a team.
Q. How does it happen at home, 4‑0 in a game like that?
ROBBY FABBRI: It's tough to explain. You go into a game with everyone wanting to do what we've been doing all playoffs. When it doesn't happen, maybe it's a little bit of frustration throughout the game.
I don't know.
Q. You didn't get much time to set up in the O zone last night. What are they doing to you?
ROBBY FABBRI: They're playing hard. They're pressuring us. We know we got to do a better job of getting in deep, below that goal line, getting to work. We're a big, strong team as well. We got to play like it.
Q. Did you get away from the simple game, extra passes?
ROBBY FABBRI: Yeah, I mean, we're at our best when we're playing Blues hockey, playing simple and playing hard and playing fast. We got away from that for spurts of last game. They took advantage of it.
Q. You had two really tough opponents the first two rounds. Why do these guys seem like they're playing you better?
ROBBY FABBRI: You get a little something different from every team. These guys are a little bit bigger. You know, with going throughout the playoffs, we go series to series, game to game, thinking about what we got to do to be successful depending on the opponent. Just something we got to stick to.
Q. How would you describe Coach Hitchcock's motivation and leadership today?
ROBBY FABBRI: He's been good. We've been over what we've got to do. Everyone's sort of watched our last game and are ready to move on. I think that's the biggest thing going into these next two games.
Q. Do you feel like you're chasing the play out there a little bit?
ROBBY FABBRI: Yeah, I mean, with that, we just got to make sure we're getting pucks in deep. When we do that, I don't feel like we're chasing pucks. With the way it went last game, you could say we were chasing a little bit.
Just got to get back to doing what we're used to doing.
Q. 0‑6 on the power play says what about what didn't happen for you guys?
ROBBY FABBRI: That's kind of tough. You want to use the power play to get momentum. Last night we didn't execute on any of them. Just the way some games go. We got to stay confident and go with our next chances.
Q. (Question regarding past experience.)
ROBBY FABBRI: I'm just going game to game here. Just controlling what I can control. That's how I play. Making sure I'm doing everything I can to contribute to the team, leaning on the older guys to lead us through this run here. They're doing a great job of that so far.
Going deep winning, going to the Memorial Cup, it helps being on a long run. It's the NHL, a different level. That's where, like I said, the older guys come in.
Q. When did you find your comfort level this year?
ROBBY FABBRI: When? I think pretty early. I mean, I wanted to come in and be confident so I'm able to play my game throughout the whole year. Making that jump, it's a big jump. I just wanted to come in and do my best. When you're around the group that we have here with the coaching staff and the veteran group, they make it pretty easy.
Q. What was your schedule today? Come in, meet, video? How much video do you watch? The whole game? Key things?
ROBBY FABBRI: Just came in, did video. Everyone is taking care of themselves, doing what they have to do around the rink to be ready.
Q. Half hour, hour? How much video did you break down?
ROBBY FABBRI: I didn't have a watch in there. I couldn't tell you. I'm sorry.
Q. Did the whole team watch together?
ROBBY FABBRI: Yeah, the whole team's in there.
Q. Is Hitch in charge of the video?
ROBBY FABBRI: Yeah, and other coaches step in, as well.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
Questions for Paul Stastny.
Q. After looking at the videotape, does it feel any better or worse?
PAUL STASTNY: It is what it is. Whatever. Make a couple changes. We know we got a lot better not just from last game, even our first game. We've always kind of bounced back throughout the year when we've had adversity, had a challenge come our way. We forget about the game yesterday and we look forward to Game3.
Q. A lot of people's reaction last night was that you were flat. Are we not giving San Jose credit?
PAUL STASTNY: Yeah, but I've said before, we're worried about what we do, how we play. I don't think it was a systems thing. As a unit of five, the guys out there, we weren't on the same page. Too many times, whether it was on the power play, PK, five‑on‑five, we need all five guys working together if we're going to be successful.
Q. You have done well on the road. Does it give you confidence about the opportunity to win in San Jose?
PAUL STASTNY: We always have confidence, home or road. NHL is one of the few sports where I don't think home ice is as big as it is in, you know, basketball, European soccer, different things like that.
To me, before the playoffs started, I think you're confident where you are out there. Sometimes it's easier to play on the road because no distractions, 23, 24, 25 guys against everyone else. You really got to come together and play as a team.
Q. Your veterans have done a good job of leading. How surprising was yesterday with the penalties?
PAUL STASTNY: Penalties could have gone either way. Doesn't matter. They weren't bad penalties. Some games they're called, some games they're not called.
There's a couple where the ref sometimes hesitates a second or two, he's unsure. You can always tell. Some of the high sticks are fluke plays where you don't even know you hit the guy in the face. Some of the interference calls, same thing. Depends the way the ref calls it.
I don't think anyone on our team looks at the penalties and says, That's why we lost. We know when we take a penalty, we've usually done a good job of killing it. We have to be better on special teams.
Q. What was the mood today?
PAUL STASTNY: We're good. We're good. Like I said, every round we play, no one expects a sweep, everyone knows it's going to be tough. You win one game, everyone thinks it's going to be that easy, lose one game, it's going to be that much harder.
They've done a good job throughout the playoffs. They play a good game. They're going to make it tough on us. We have to adapt a little bit and change the way we want to play.
Q. You're playing every other day. Is there something about your speed element that you can increase, go with a better tempo?
PAUL STASTNY: Yeah, but whether it's turnovers or whether it's having or more possessions in the offensive zone, coming out cleaner, I think that's what really dictates how fast we're playing.
I think if we're not on top of the puck, we're not moving it well, not supporting each other, seems like we're playing a lot slower. I don't think it's how fast we're skating. I think it's more about having the chemistry, like I said, kind of being more on the same page, more in sync.
Q. They seem to get the puck out of their zone pretty quick. How do you change that?
PAUL STASTNY: Yeah, I mean, whether it's sometimes we're trying to make too many plays too quick. When it's not there, we're trying to force it. Sometimes, you know, it's better to kind of keep it on the outside, have a little more possession, kind of get them on their heels, get them tired. That makes them kind of have some errors and open up more chances offensively.
I think if you look throughout the playoffs, throughout the regular season, when we're at our best is when we have that sustained pressure. Whether it's 10 seconds, 20 or 30 seconds, that kind of leads to goals.
You don't go in the zone and score within the first five or ten seconds. It's a collection of plays where you create chances, create little two‑on‑ones, you get your chances. That's what we've got to do.
Q. You won Game1. Some said it wasn't the best game you played in the playoffs. What was last game?
PAUL STASTNY: I mean, it wasn't a good game I think overall. You know, you're going to have a bad game like that, you just forget about it. That's kind of playoff hockey. It's really up and down. Seems to be really up and down.
I think we've done a good job of being even keel. When you win a game, sometimes on the outside people get really high. When you lose a game, really low.
You forget about it. You're playing every other day. You don't have that much time to think about Game2. Playoffs, you're always thinking about the next game, what you can do to make those adjustments and be at your best.
Q. Was there a positive to take from the game?
PAUL STASTNY: I don't know. Probably not. I'm sure there is. I'm sure there's a couple things you can look at. Nothing that sticks out in my mind.
Q. When you rely so much on your structure, when you're a little off, does that look way off?
PAUL STASTNY: Yeah. I think, I mean, any team can say that, whether you play a run‑and‑gun game or a structured game. Like I said, if we don't have that puck possession, we tend to be on our heels a little bit. You're down a goal, down two goals, you're really trying to force things.
Watching that video, third period, forced errors by us. You're playing the score. You're really trying to force. That's when you get in trouble. You got to stick to your system, keep at it the whole 60 minutes.
Sometimes when things aren't going your way, you get frustrated, try to do too many things on your own. Some guys can do it sometimes. But this time of year when you're playing, you need everyone onboard.
Q. From the outside, is this sort of the classic Blues dilemma? When you play well, it's structure, when you don't, it's because you slipped from that?
PAUL STASTNY: Yeah, but I think same thing, you play the score a little bit too. You're down two goals and you're trying to creates as much as you can. Sometimes you're trying to overdo it.
You got to rely on your wingers. Everyone has to be on the same page. Like I said yesterday, too many times where a couple guys were forechecking, a couple guys sitting back a little bit. That makes it easy for them to get out. They find that pocket area.
When you have everyone committed to something, it's easier said than done, you could say it easily, but you have to have that aggressive attitude, aggressive mindset no matter what the score is.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports