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June 2, 2016

Peter DeBoer

San Jose, California: Practice Day

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. What were the strengths and weaknesses in the last game?
COACH DeBOER: Strengths and weaknesses in the last game?
I thought we did a better job of limiting their time and space. We got the shot totals down from 40, which is an unacceptable level for us, into the 20s. I still think we can improve there.
I thought just our overall game in all areas was a little bit better. It's still not where it needs to be, but it was a little bit better.
We had a chance to win a game in a tough rink, in a tough environment. Didn't find a way to do that. Now have to regroup.

Q. Wondering if Pavelski's lack of shots relative to what he had been getting is something that Pittsburgh is doing or does it stem from something that you guys are not doing?
COACH DeBOER: I think it's a little combination of both. I think they've done a good job of taking away our time and space, particularly of our better players. I think everyone tries to do that to the other team. So I think you have to give them some credit for that. I.
Also think there's some things we can do better as a group. We'll regroup here, have a good practice tomorrow, try and get fixed.

Q. Pete, what type of boost do you expect from playing at home? Fans have been waiting a long time for a home game in the Final. What do you think that will mean?
COACH DeBOER: Well, it's very meaningful to the people here. I think I saw the emotion after we won the Western Conference that night and the days following that before we left for Pittsburgh. It's important to the people here.
Obviously we're not coming home under the best circumstances, but we also know we're a tough out, we're going to be a tough team to beat at home. Pittsburgh showed you that on the road. I think them being at home, the home crowd, definitely made it a tough environment for us on the road, and we want to do the same to them, return the favor.

Q. Pete, could you clarify Justin Braun's situation. Is he a definite for Game3? Is this a matchup series? I know you haven't really paid attention to that in series past. Do you think that could have an effect on Game3?
COACH DeBOER: Justin Braun traveled today to pay his respects to his father‑ in‑law, is going to return to San Jose either tonight or tomorrow. He will definitely be in for Game3.
As far as matchups go, it's always nice to have the last change. There's always some certain matchups you're looking to get.
At the same time, Pittsburgh presents some matchup issues for everybody they played. When you have Malkin, Crosby and Kessel on three different lines, that presents matchup issues.
Regardless of the matchups, guys have to get the job done when they're on the ice.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about, you mentioned last night you played better than in Game1, and you ended the game obviously with different line combinations than you started. Is that a good starting point for Game3? Was it enough, do you feel, to change the momentum when it's in your building?
COACH DeBOER: Was what enough, the lineup changes?

Q. Just the fact they played a bit better.
COACH DeBOER: No, it's not enough unless you win. It was enough to get us to overtime. At that point you're one shot from winning. It gave us an opportunity to win that game, just like we had an opportunity to win Game1 with two minutes left in the game.
Obviously you want to eliminate that margin of error. You don't want to leave it to chance. You don't want to leave it to one shot. You want to, you know, try and take control of the game.
But Pittsburgh's a good team. They've shown they're not a team that you're going to control large portions of play against them. You're going to have to wait for your opportunities and cash in. There's little things we can do better, and we'll look at those.
As far as the line combinations go, it gave us a jolt I thought in the third period. We found a way to score one. Whether or not we'll start next game like that, I don't know. We're going to take tomorrow and look at some tape and make some decisions there.

Q. You talked about being even until the final two minutes in Game1 and overtime in Game 2. Is that encouraging at all that you guys did not play your best, and you were able to stay close? If you get your game back to where it needs to be, you'll be able to compete with these guys?
COACH DeBOER: I think we competed with them. Again, both games are one‑goal games. Both ended late in one and overtime in the other. I think from a compete point, we're right there.
Again, we've got to find a few longer stretches where we can control the play a little bit more. There's a few things we can do differently. You have to get your head wrapped around that Pittsburgh, with their numbers, the way they played from the second half of the season on, you're not going to dominate a team like that for long stretches.
You have to be comfortable taking the opportunities you get and the swings of momentum you get. You've got to make sure you cash in on them. I think right now we've got to do a little bit better job of that.

Q. Do you have any comments about what Logan Couture had to say about Sidney Crosby? What were your instructions to the team in terms of approaching this game? Early on you talked about with the community here getting so excited about this, you didn't want the players to get too caught up at that. Are any of the guys staying at hotels? The mindset you'd like them to have as the game gets here.
COACH DeBOER: Yeah, well, I mean, the message to them was tune out the noise. There's a lot of noise. People are going to want to tell you how well Pittsburgh is playing, how poorly you're playing, how you have no chance to win. We need to tune all that out, make sure we're ready for Game3. That's the only thing that matters right now.
I think we got better and we have to keep building our game. Our Game2 was better than our Game1. I'm sure 3 is going to be better than 1 and 2 were.

Q. Logan's comments with Sidney Crosby in the faceoffs, do you care to add anything on that, what you thought of that?
COACH DeBOER: I'm not weighing in on that.

Q. How do you think Matt Nieto came out of that game? Do you expect him back in? Was there any rust?
COACH DeBOER: I thought he gave us some really good energy early. Like a guy who has been out for a month, I thought as the game wore on, you know, the reality of being out that long settled in a little bit on him.
We have another day off tomorrow and another day of practice tomorrow. I'm anticipating he'll be fine for next game.

Q. Pete, you made some changes with the lines in the third period last night. Are you going to plan to stick with that going forward? Do you think that gave you enough of a change you were looking for?
COACH DeBOER: You know, I haven't decided if we're going to start where we ended last game. I liked the response we got in the third period. I thought we were better. It gave us a little bit of a jolt. One of the combinations found a way to get a goal. I thought the other combinations started to look a little more dangerous.
But we'll see. I'm going to take the next day here, a practice day, and we'll come up with some answers. I don't have a final decision on that yet.

Q. I know you don't want to relive what happened four years ago. A similar situation. Did you see in that series how important Game3 was, how you have to make sure you keep your focus?
COACH DeBOER: Yeah, for sure. I think absolutely. I think our guys know that. The nice thing is, and the difference is, we are going home. There's a little more optimism knowing the next two games are in our rink.
Credit to them, they held serve, played well at home. Again, we've got to return the favor here in our rink.
Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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