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June 5, 2016

Peter DeBoer

San Jose, California: Practice Day

THE MODERATOR: Questions for coach.

Q. Pete, obviously the blocked shots that Pittsburgh had last night is a number that stands out a little bit. Are there adjustments you have to make in order to get more shots to the net? Is that a focus here?
COACH DeBOER: Well, I mean, they make a commitment to block. We've got to keep shooting. We've got to work for lanes. There's not much you can do. It can't deter us from shooting the puck.
I think there's no bad shots for us. I think even if it gets blocked, a lot of times we can recover it. We're going to keep our shooting mentality and keep firing.

Q. Regarding Chris Tierney, can you describe what you've seen in his development since the start of the year.
COACH DeBOER: Well, I mean, we heard throughout the playoffs how they were going to expose our third line. He's playing minutes against Malkin, against Crosby. He's been fantastic. He's gotten better and better as the season has gone.
It hasn't been an easy road. He's had some bumps there, was down for a couple days. Healthy scratched him a few times.
I think he's learned to compete at this level on a nightly basis. All the skills are there. It's just been finding that consistent compete. He's got that now.

Q. I know you'd be more concerned with quality scoring chances. What do you say about how the two teams compare?
COACH DeBOER: One, they shoot from everywhere. They sling pucks from everywhere. You do have to look at quality versus quantity. I don't think it's as easy as looking at the shot clock and saying you're getting dominated because they've got 40 shots and you've got 26. I don't think the game is that simple. They get pucks to the net. We can probably do a better job of limiting that, getting in some more lanes.
Historically during the year, we've been one of the best shot‑blocking teams in the league. But they fire from everywhere, every angle, all over the place, then cause confusion around the net.
We've got to do a better job. But does the fact that they have 30 more shots in the series bother me? Not as much as it bothers you guys.

Q. It seems like Pavelski is playing well, but doesn't have a point probably because of power plays, not getting shots through. Is that accurate? What do you see out of his game?
COACH DeBOER: Those guys get a lot of attention. You get asked the same thing about Malkin and some of the guys on their end.
It's tough this time of year. Every round, he's getting a lot of attention, just like Brent Burns is getting a lot of attention, just like Jumbo is getting a lot of attention.
That's not an easy role to play. I have no doubt he's going to break through here. He has all year for us. It's just a matter of time.

Q. I can't imagine you had seen too much of Jones before you came here. How early in the process did you figure you might have something going with this goalie?
COACH DeBOER: Yeah, I mean, I spent a month with them at the World Championships. He only played one game. I got to be on the ice at practice with him. Got to know him a little bit as a guy and as a teammate. I loved his disposition, his composure, his work ethic, the practices we had.
I saw what Doug and his scout saw when we acquired him, the tools and disposition were there. You never know how a guy is going to handle the starting job playing every night until you throw him into it. That was the million‑dollar question.
I think through the first half of the year, we had some tough starts. We were on the road a lot. Couture was out of the lineup. We were under some heavy pressure in a lot of those games. He just kept coming out and playing well.
Even when he didn't play well, he bounced back quickly. It didn't bother him. I think that's when we started to see what he was capable of.

Q. By reputation the Western Conference is the home of heavier teams. There were stretches last night where you guys seemed to push the physical part of it. That was very successful in some of the early series. Is that part of your specific game plan going forward, try to wear them down? Do you believe the Western Conference is heavier?
COACH DeBOER: I don't know about that. I know that's part of our identity, is being hard and heavy. They have some hard, heavy players, though, too. Sidney Crosby is as hard, heavy a guy as there is in the league. He's not the biggest guy in the world.
I said right at the beginning of the series, it's which team can impose their game on the other team for the longest stretch. No one's going to do it for 60 minutes. Both teams are too good, too good at bouncing back and recovering. So it's just who can do it for the longer period. I thought that was probably the case last night, and we won.

Q. Tomas Hertl, any update on him?
COACH DeBOER: Day‑to‑day.

Q. Johan Hedberg, I know you had a relationship with him previously, but what prompted you to bring him here and what has he provided you?
COACH DeBOER: Johan is an exceptional guy. Probably played in the NHL two or three years longer than he might have because of what a good teammate he is, how hard he worked, his work ethic, his personality. I just thought all those attributes would make him an excellent coach.
While I was coaching him in New Jersey, I actually talked to him after he retired, that I thought he'd have the opportunity to make an excellent coach one day, not knowing that we would ever work together again. Then when I got the job, we were looking at goalie coaches, he was the first guy that I thought of.
Also to get him to come, I didn't want him just to be the goalie coach. His title is an assistant coach because I think he's got great hockey knowledge. He doesn't just work with the goalies, he provides us with another set of eyes. Unlike a lot of staffs, we don't have three assistants and a goalie coach. We have two assistants and Johan, who is an assistant coach and goalie coach for us.

Q. Justin Braun had a solid game last night. Talk about his maturation as a defenseman.
COACH DeBOER: I thought he was excellent last night. With what he's dealt with, I don't know if you can understand the emotion of kind of the last week for him, last couple weeks. He's known this day was coming.
For him to play through and do what he's done for us, I can't say enough about that. I know his teammates appreciate it. He's one of those quiet guys that just shows up every day and punches in, does his job. Really we wouldn't be here without him either. He's been exceptional.
I think him and Vlasic are a great combination together. I thought they were outstanding last night.

Q. Curious about your thoughts on Melker's game last night. Is that something you might go back to? Also, bigger picture, obviously Pittsburgh expected a big push from you guys last night. Do you expect them to raise their level tomorrow night?
COACH DeBOER: I think both teams are going to raise their level next game. It's a critical game. It's one of those crossroad type games, I think.
I anticipate both teams to come out. I think it should be the best game of the series. I think every game's gotten a little bit better. I think the next one will be the best one so far.
As far as lines go, Melker, like the rest of our group, was great. He was tenacious, on the puck. He was in on the forecheck, caused the turnover on the overtime goal.
We've got a lot of guys, we talk about interchangeable parts, but we have a lot of guys that play on our third line, play on our fourth line, that can jump up or have played higher in the lineup in the past.
I think when you have really good players up top, you can have those interchangeable parts. Pittsburgh has got it. You look at the guys they pair with Malkin or Crosby. They're not household names, some of them. Because you have quality people up top, you can stick in complementary guys like that, and they can be very effective. I think Melker is one of those guys.
Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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