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May 20, 2016

Ken Hitchcock

San Jose, California: Practice Day


Q. Is part of that because he plays the puck well and can help your breakout?
COACH HITCHCOCK: Yeah, a little bit. Some of it is just changing momentum for both teams hopefully.
But, you know, part of it is also the luxury. I've got a goalie that gives a different look. He plays a different style. He's very active in the net. He's very active at moving the puck, getting us out of transition. He's an awful good goalie, just like Ells is.
Ells has run quite a distance here. We just feel like Jake's a guy that can help us change the momentum of the series.

Q. How long did it take to make that decision?
COACH HITCHCOCK: I would say, you know, about 9 or 10 this morning, made the decision. I like to solicit a lot of opinions. So I listened to the coaches. We kind of got rid of it last night and didn't want to deal with it that much because of the emotion of the game and everything.
So I just talked it over this morning with everyone, including management. We came to the decision. It's ultimately my call. But just feel like we need to get us a little bit of momentum change because we are not being rewarded for the work and they are, the small difference in the series being that.
We dinged them in Game1 and they dinged us in 2 and 3.

Q. How much can the puck‑moving ability Jake has help you get out of the zone real quick?
COACH HITCHCOCK: A little bit. I just feel like if you're in a position where you need to change momentum, you need to look at a lot of things.
We got great minutes from our fourth line yesterday, changed momentum for us in a positive direction. We need more of that to happen, quite frankly. So we need to look at every avenue.
We got great minutes from Bortuzzo yesterday until he got hurt, got cut there. So, you know, guys that have come in have done a real job for us, done a great job for us. We want to try to do as much as we can to change momentum.

Q. You usually take one goalie, you ride him all the way. Why the decision to do this? Have you seen it be successful in the past?
COACH HITCHCOCK: Yeah, you've seen it lots. I think, quite frankly, we've had two guys all year. It might be a story for people, but for inside the locker room and for us as coaches, it is kind of an easy decision in the fact that, you know, it's probably easier for us than it is for other people because we've just trusted both guys so much.
We trust Brian. Even when there were bumps we trusted Brian. I think this is a little bit different. This is a change in momentum.
We're playing a team that's got a bead in their game and focus in their game that's been around for seven games now. We've got to change momentum here. They've been dialing in with this game for seven games now.
I think if we expect to trot out with just a little bit better effort and expect to see a change, I think that would be misleading. We're not going to change that. We're going to have to change momentum in a real positive way with probably a little bit more drama to it, and we're going to have to find people that can help us do that.

Q. How close would you say you came to making this switch before Game 7 against Dallas?
COACH HITCHCOCK: No. Again, any time we lose, we talk about energy level. For me, I looked at that first and foremost. Where is the energy? When I saw him at the rink the next day, I saw him stopping pucks, there was no question we were going with Brian.
This is different, though. We need a little bit of a change right now. We're paying for the few mistakes we make. That's what teams who are so dialed in to checking do. The few mistakes we're making, we are paying for it right now.
We made them pay in Game1. They're making us pay in 2 and 3. We have to have a little bit of a change in attitude towards that.

Q. Devil's advocate. How can a goalie change help you score more goals?
COACH HITCHCOCK: It just brings alertness. I think everybody is fixated on goals. This is a series ‑ how is the best way to describe it? This is a territorial series played by two teams who are firmly entrenched in checking. And if you don't have positional patience in your transition, and if you don't have structure on an ongoing basis in your transition, you get no zone time, and you get no scoring chances.
They had the breakdowns in the first game which allowed us to have the odd‑man rushes, which we got our goals on. The two goals that we got scored on yesterday, first two goals were direct results of forcing pucks into covered people with committed checking people. Not only did we pass it to covered people, but they checked us hard off the puck to create the transition back.
That's what we got: two teams that are more than comfortable checking their way to a championship. I said to you before, their team is dialed in and has been for seven games like this. We got a tagger right now. We're going to have to be a lot better.
It's just a change in attitude I think in a number of avenues, not just goalie, but in a number of avenues for us to win.

Q. From a fun storytelling standpoint, literally where were you when it hit you, I'm going with Jake?
COACH HITCHCOCK: Right there (laughter).
I feel like I've lived in this room today, so... Been in here a lot of hours.

Q. Have you solicited any advice from Nashville or L.A.?
COACH HITCHCOCK: I don't think it would be appropriate who I solicited. But they've got information, I'm sure, on teams in our series. We've had information in their series.
They're dialed in. We got to dial in a little bit deeper. We're capable of it, more than capable of it. But we've got to really dial in deep. We don't want to see this go down the same path that L.A. and Nashville went down, when they get this bead on that they've got going. We're going to have to change it up.
Upshall will be available for us if we need him also.

Q. When is the last time you saw your team as dialed in as San Jose is in this playoff?
COACH HITCHCOCK: We were like that in 5 and 7 against Chicago, dialed in at this level. So we're capable of it. We can do it.
I know we lost yesterday, but we had great flashes of it. We just didn't extend the minutes. When we got the bump, we forced it. They took advantage of it. That was the game. It wasn't going down 1‑0, it was our reaction to going down 1‑0.
We started to try to create offensive opportunities too far away. When you do that, that's when good teams take advantage of you. That's exactly what they did.
We started to force the puck into areas that were covered. It ended up just being a ping‑pong game after a while. Then when we dial it back up again in the third, we were okay. Too late. We were down 2‑0.

Q. You made an interesting point last night, It's just 2‑1. The boys in the bar back at St.Louis, the fans are saying they were probably outplayed in the first one that they won. The question is, why can you win the series?
COACH HITCHCOCK: We gave up 15 shots, okay? The feeling I have is if we clean up the transition stuff, stop giving up these odd‑man rushes like we did, we gave up five odd‑man rushes in the first half of the game yesterday, all based on us having the puck, not them having the puck. If we can clean that stuff up, I think we're going to really give this a go.
But that's the key. We've got to clean that stuff up because those are the ones that are burying us. That's the same thing. They had the puck a lot in Game1. They made errors on it. We took advantage of it.
Well, they've done it in 2 and 3 now. My feeling is, if we can clean up some of this stuff, if we can show the players exactly what's happening, and we can become more composed and more patient in that avenue, I think we're going to do fine.
But that's a big 'if' when a team is dialed in like this checking‑wise. What do they say? You win championships with defense. Both teams are committed to defense, but they being a little bit better at it than us, quite frankly. That's why they have the 2‑1 lead.

Q. Jake hasn't faced a whole lot of shots in the post season. What he's done? Have you liked what you've seen?
COACH HITCHCOCK: Yeah. I don't think that matters for us right now. We have to make a change. Everyone is on a short leash, forwards, D. Four teams left. Everybody's on a short leash.
Give us what you got, we'll see it from there.

Q. Did you like the fourth line enough that you might stick with it?
COACH HITCHCOCK: I liked it a lot. They played like a third line, to be honest with you. I think we're going to find them hopefully playing more in the game and helping us. If that's their level, they gave us great energy.
I think what it also tells you is what fresh players do. They were fresh. I think it really helped us. I think it gave us a big boost energy‑wise, too.

Q. Did they stick with the system more so than the other lines?
COACH HITCHCOCK: No. They were quicker to pucks. They won races. They won puck battles. They used their size. The two wingers really, really helped us a lot.

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