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May 19, 2016

Ken Hitchcock

San Jose, California: Game Three

San Jose – 3
St. Louis ‑ 0


Q. Hitch, looked like you got the start that you wanted. What happened after the first five or six minutes?
COACH HITCHCOCK: I thought it was longer than that. I thought we really had a great start. I thought we had a lot of the things that we wanted to do, we did a great job with them.
I think when it went 1‑0, there was a period of time, probably seven or eight minutes, that we probably tried to force things offensively. Got a little bit frustrated there. Thought we gathered ourselves in again, especially at the end of the second period.
But when you're not scoring, you have two choices: either be diligent and stay the program, or sometimes you get forcing offense. The second goal was an example of that.
It's 1‑0 hockey game. We got to feel comfortable playing it. We're in great shape. Then we make a mistake. We cross‑ice pass it to a cover guy, it's a two‑on‑one that ends up being a three‑on‑one. It's in our net. Now we're coming from behind.

Q. Clearly it's a team game. I wanted to ask you about Tarasenko. What can happen to get him going offensively?
COACH HITCHCOCK: The thing that could help him, we can't give him, which is more experience. Can't give it to him. He's learning hard lessons, like any young player. Robby's learning it. Prako is learning it. Valdi is learning some really hard lessons.
The playoffs are for veteran players. The veteran players on both teams have this thing dialed up. They know they're not giving much room to us. We gave up, what, 14 shots today.
As you experience this as a younger player, you're going to have to learn to fight through a lot if you expect to score. We would like him to learn that lesson a day from now, but we're not sure on the timeframe.
Some guys never learn it. Some guys can't do it. Some guys learn that lesson and they really become accomplished players, especially scoring players. But he's going to have to fight through everything if he expects to score a goal and contribute offensively.
There's some days that he's going to end up being an effective player and not even get a point, but he's going to have to have an understanding of what it takes to play at this time of year, in the conference final, with 100% commitment on the other side, still be an effective player.
These are lessons you can talk to him about. Unfortunately for all of us, you got to go through it.

Q. Your team has had so much success in these playoffs against big, offensive stars, Toews, Kane. What is about Thornton, Pavelski, that line, they seem to be having more territorial success?
COACH HITCHCOCK: They've got out of their own zone when we started with a hemmed. In other words, when we started with an O‑zone draw. We put our top‑scoring players out there in this series so far and we've not been able to maintain pressure in the offensive zone. We've ended up in our zone quickly sometimes.
That's something that no one's done against us. We've been able to take top players and hem them in, frustrate them. For whatever reason, we cannot control the play, even though we start 200 feet from our net.
So that's on me. I'm going to have to change tactics, do something completely different than we've done in the first two series because within 10 seconds in most occasions, they're in our zone. We're not hemming them in like we did the other two teams.

Q. We've talked about all the adversity that you've gone through, everything that you've dealt with. You talked about the grind. Is this your biggest challenge yet this year?
COACH HITCHCOCK: The series is 2‑1. You got to win four games. This is nothing.
When we get down three and three‑quarters and we only got a quarter left, you can kind of ask me that question. Right now it's 2‑1.
The interesting response from us, it's the response that's going to have to be good for us. We're the first team of these two teams that's taken the bump now. Somebody had to be down 2‑1. Neither one of us have experienced that. So we're going to have to deal with it.
But it's still only 2‑1. And we had a lot of good things today. Our fourth line was incredible. Looks like we have a real viable line that can play a lot more minutes if the coach is a little smarter. Got something going there. Got more participants.
What we really need is for a clearer understanding with some of our players who have in some ways had it a little bit their own way. This is harder because the team we're playing is fully committed to checking, every player is. It's going to be really difficult for both teams to score.
They got the lead, and that second goal was the killer for us right now. That's how fine the line is right now.

Q. The decision to pull Elliott. Also going empty net five minutes left. Did that help some of the offensive issues by being able to play in their zone for a little bit?
COACH HITCHCOCK: Well, I was told by the new school coaches that I'm to pull the goalie earlier, so I'm just following the analytics.
I'm not sure you can judge. We played really hard, but we had six, they had five. I thought even though we kept it in the zone, I'm not sure, did we get any shots on goal? I'm not sure we did. Maybe one or two.
I liked some of the tactics we used. I didn't like the third goal. I thought we needed to catch our breath. I still honestly thought if we could have got a goal, we still had a chance to come back in the game. I wanted to give us a breath.
I didn't like the coverage on the third goal. I didn't like the third goal at all.

Q. As you go back to your room tonight, the next 36 hours, how do you devise a way to create more offense, to be able to beat this team? Secondly, update on the status of Scottie Upshall?
COACH HITCHCOCK: We'll let you know tomorrow on Upshall.
I think creating offense is really dangerous right now. That's the wrong decision. We like to score goals. We need to score goals. I think there's steps that lead to that that we have to get a bigger buy‑in. The steps are what we want to talk about.
There are things in our game that need to take place on a more consistent basis if we expect to score. That's what we're going to talk about. If we just talk about the end result, we're going to end up in the same boat.
There are things that I can see us doing. We had a lot of those things today. There was a lot of good stuff today that we can build off of. But we have to have a realistic view of how are we going to create more zone time, more pressure, more anxiety for them so that we can score goals. That's what we've got to look at, that tactic.

Q. Is there a decision to be made in goal moving into the next game between Brian and Jake?
COACH HITCHCOCK: I get a wait on that one. Yeah, I'm going to think about that one. Got two good goalies. Pretty good choice. Can't lose on either one.
But I'll kind of wait that one out. Kind of sleep on it. Talk to Jimmy, talk to the coaches, see what they think.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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