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May 25, 2016

Ken Hitchcock

San Jose, California: Game Six

THE MODERATOR: Questions for coach.

Q. Hitch, every single time that you've gone into a game where a loss has been, you made a lineup adjustment. With Scottie Upshall coming in, what do you look to?
COACH HITCHCOCK: If he didn't get hurt, he's an effective player for us. He's healthy now. He's got speed. He's gotten nasty. He's great on PK. I can play him up the lineup. End of period, the game is on the line, I can play him anywhere. He's a valuable player for us.
He's had an excellent year for us. He's a guy we can really use. This time off has afforded him a time to get healthy, to get ready to play.

Q. When you see the urgency that Pittsburgh had in the other series, you expect that from your team when their backs are against the wall.
COACH HITCHCOCK: Yeah, I think 'sense of urgency' is an overused word in sports. To me, it's execution. Your best players just have to be your best players. That, to me, stood out more than anything. You need someone to fall or you just wander around in the desert.
Pittsburgh set the tone with the people they needed to lead. They were the best players early in the game. Then you have no choice but to follow.
We need to execute at a high level. I said this before. We expect nothing but the best from San Jose. We're going to have to answer the bell back. But it's going to have to be with execution and staying ahead of their pressure just like they're staying ahead of our pressure.
Both teams are built a certain way. There's a lot of similarities between both teams. Whatever team establishes their game on the other one usually wins the hockey game.
We've gotten better as this series has gone on. We want to continue to improve and keep playing.

Q. What did you observe from Brian Elliott the last couple days? Are there ways this rest or mental break was needed for him?
COACH HITCHCOCK: Well, I think it's not just the playoffs that Brian had to play. It was everything leading into the playoffs. He had to play a lot at the end of the year, a lot.
I think the break gave him a freshness and a focus that's strong. He's such a competitive guy. He's such a battler. But in order to play the way he plays, he's very athletic in the net, he's acrobatic at times. You need to have a certain level of energy to play that way.
We leaned on him really hard at the end of the year, then it continued all the way into the playoffs.
I felt when I put Jake in that we were doing a lot of watching in our own zone, relying on Brian to make too many big saves. I thought it was really wearing on him. We needed to change it. We got the change. Unfortunately we lost the last game, but we got the necessary change. Now it's his series to win.

Q. It's the first year since 1980 that all four teams in the Conference Finals use both guys. Does it say teams are comfortable with both?
COACH HITCHCOCK: I think it's because the pressure on the goalies, the speed in our game, the depth in our game, there's just so much pressure on the goalies now. They're coming at you Mach 1. There's just so much agility and ability up front now. Fourth line players are like third line players were before. There's so much pressure on the goaltending position right now.
I think it's really difficult to assume that one guy can carry the load anymore and expect that guy to survive, unless you get out of a series early, like in the first two rounds you get out early. If you get out in five games in one of the series, you got a rest for your goalie, that's like gold. But you're playing all these series, extending everything, man, you're putting a lot of pressure on your tender.

Q. Would you stick with the same D? After touching on the past couple days about them being overanxious in a situation like that, how do you avoid that?
COACH HITCHCOCK: We had a good video session yesterday. We showed them what we were doing right, what we needed to correct from a defensive standpoint. I think the guys are in sync and in tune there.
I think the defense are like the forwards. There's a short leash for us. We can't wait and hope. If we have to shorten the bench, we'll shorten the bench. We're going to do whatever it takes to make sure we got the right people on the ice. We're not hoping that a guy's a worker or that a guy is going to play well and execute, we're going to hope that everybody does it.
But if it happens that somebody isn't, we're not going to wait on it. That goes for defense, that goes for forwards, that goes for everybody. This is the time for us that we got to go with the guys that are going at this time. We can't waste any energy on past reputation or regular season or what you did a week ago. It's what you're going to do tonight. That's got to be our attitude.
Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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