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May 19, 2016

Ken Hitchcock

Q. (No microphone.)
COACH HITCHCOCK: Well, we know we're going to play better. So whether we get our best game, winning in the playoffs is all about getting better. We need to play better than we did in Game2. We know we will. We know what it looks like.
It's a game based on effort and puck support. Doesn't matter what the opposition does. If you've got that going, you're going to be in good shape.
We know we're going to play a lot better. We still hung around mentally from some of the Dallas series. I think we've gotten our minds a little bit better for what's taken place.
I think there was such a different game when we played the stars than when we play San Jose. I said this to people before, San Jose plays a mirror image of ourselves. We had to get better at that. I think we're going to get better at it today.

Q. You talked about changes in the lineup. Is Paajarvi going in to make more speed?
COACH HITCHCOCK: We're making changes. We've always done it when we don't feel our group is performing the way we want them to. We've been fortunate that every time we've made the changes, we've played better.
We're looking to make changes again.

Q. Hitch, just wanted to know if the injuries during the season, the way you reacted to them, making changes to your lineup all through the course of the season, is helpful at this point because the guys are used to it?
COACH HITCHCOCK: I think it's really helpful. I think what's more helpful, though, is we have players that have played multiple positions. That's what's helped us.
You're not having a guy that's never played center go and play center, or a guy that's played center go and play wing.
I think the significant injuries, the long‑term injuries have really helped us because it's put people in positions, really starting in October, that they had not played before, that they had to get used to.
I think it has really helped us in the playoffs. We've put people in positions where it's surprised some of the media, it's surprised some of the opposition, and yet our players, in some cases, played 40 games in that position. So it's really helped us.
I don't think we would be here today without having that flexibility, because that flexibility has really allowed us to be almost seamless in some of the things that we're able to do that has helped us win hockey games.

Q. What is it about playing on the road that's made you so successful, do you think?
COACH HITCHCOCK: Fear is an interesting motivator. I think we have a team that, when we're a little unsure of ourselves, we really play alert. I think that's what happened. It's been like that all year with this group.
When we're in an uncomfortable situation, whether it's the building, travel, injuries, we have really played alert. I think that's what's given us the confidence that we can win anywhere, anytime, anyplace.
It's our road play that has led to our good home play. Whenever we've played well on the road, when we go home, we play even better.
Even in the playoffs, we didn't play well early in the series at home. But, boy, did we play well late in the series at home. It seems to be we feed off of our good play on the road. Now, we're not going to win all the time. But, man, we really play alert.
I think it's a little bit of fear. You don't know what's going to happen. You're afraid you might get blitzed. It just seems to make everybody alert, everybody stick together.
We've had this element in our team where we've really had to stick together. I think it's a combination of the injuries and being able to have success on the road.

Q. You've coached a lot of regular‑season and playoff games in this building.

Q. Do you have any favorite stories or memories that you could share?
COACH HITCHCOCK: Well, I'm partial to the De Anza Hotel, but we can't get in there (laughter).
I've said up until really St.Louis, now in the playoffs, this and St.Louis are the most naturally loud buildings in the league. Nothing's canned here, nothing's canned in St.Louis. The building noise comes directly from the patrons.
This has always been the building, until I went to St.Louis, that you would say that this is a group of fans that are in the building.
When you played here, you had to find a way to negate the surge coming from those people because the surge that came from the fans seemed to really impact the game and the players, and especially the Sharks. We knew the surges were coming and we almost had to dumb the game down to just get it out because it came in waves.
But right from the first time I coached in here in the playoffs back in the late '90s, what shocked me more than anything was for an American city, this was a full building in warmups. That was always surprising to us here. We'd come out for warmups and the building was full.
You knew it was not corporate. It was people's hard‑earned money that was bringing them into the building and they wanted to see every aspect of the game. It was a lot of fun.

Q. The styles between your club and Chicago, your club and Dallas, they were pretty contrasting. This one is different. From where we sit, it looks like you try to win the same way. What does that mean when you're coaching? More work for you or less?
COACH HITCHCOCK: Well, I think the work is convincing your players that they have to embrace 'hard'. It's really hard. It's hard creating scoring chances.
As well as San Jose played last game ‑ what did they have, 24 shots on net, 25 or whatever ‑ it's hard because both teams are so committed to checking.
Convincing your players that you're going to have to perform with no room, no space, no time is an easy thing to talk about and a very difficult task to do.
That's the biggest part, is convincing your players that what you're asking them to do is worthwhile at the end of the night. Because during the competition, neither team is making it very easy on the other team.
It's fun. I use the analogy this way: When you play a team like ours, or you play a team like San Jose, you're gaining ice by the inch, not the yard, and you better be prepared to play that way. If you are, have the right attitude, you can have success. If you're not, then you're always going to be frustrated and always discouraged and at times losing interest because it's very, very difficult.
Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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