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June 7, 2016

Peter DeBoer

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Practice Day

THE MODERATOR: We'll take questions for Coach DeBoer.

Q. Pete, will you look to juggle things up early instead of waiting to try to get a lead?
COACH DeBOER: Well, I don't know if switching the lines up is the answer to getting the lead. We've shortened the bench the last two games because we've been behind. It's not ideal. Catches up to you, especially when you're this deep into the playoffs and have played as many games as we have and logged as many miles as we have. It's been more out of necessity.
There's a saying that you dance with the girl you brought to the dance. I think that's going to probably be our approach here going forward.

Q. Pete, you have been a very good road team this year. I would imagine it would give you some reason for belief going into Thursday. Anything else you can point to as far as positives that you can say, This is not that bad, win one game, turn this thing around?
COACH DeBOER: Well, I think you hit it right on the head. It's one game. We want to win one game and get a Game 6 back here at home. I think we would be comfortable in that spot that we could get it to go seven.
Short‑term we've got to go in and win one road game. We've been the best road team in the league all year. It's not going to be easy.
Yeah, I think our game has grown through the series. We cleaned some things up. We limited their shots last game from earlier in the series. I thought every game we've created a little bit more chances to score. I think our big guys have gotten more shots off and more looks as the series has gone on. We're doing some good stuff.
But you can't change the fact that we've played behind the entire series. That's something that we have to get fixed.

Q. There's been so much made of not having a lead. Your first five, six minutes last night was pretty good. Is there something that hasn't been there that you can put your finger on?
COACH DeBOER: I liked our start. I liked our first 10 minutes. Thought we got off and got going. We had a couple good looks early, Thornton and Pavelski had a two‑on‑one early, Murray made a save.
I think we've got to find a way to stick one of those in early and put them in the spot where they're chasing the game a little bit, which we haven't done yet.

Q. Pete, a lot of players last night were talking about the need to just play with that same desperation they had in the third period in the first. Do you see it that way? You liked the start, but could you use a little more of that?
COACH DeBOER: Yeah, you know, I mean, that's easy to say. I've said all along, there's another team playing with the same level of desperation, too. You're not going to get 60 minutes of that.
I liked our start. I thought we sagged after they scored a little bit, which is natural, especially after the second goal. We found a way to get it back in the third, get going in the right direction.
They're also sitting on a lead, so they're sitting back a little bit. There's a lot of factors that play into it a little bit.
I think the desperation level on both teams is as high as it can get. Everyone understands we're in the Stanley Cup Finals. I don't think you can manufacture more desperation than what everybody is playing with. I think for us it's more execution right now. We've got to find a way to get out in front here earlier in the game and make them chase a little bit.

Q. Pete, I know you logged the most travel of any NHL team this year. You did a lot of travel in the playoffs. I know you're not looking for excuses, but how much does that play on a team, especially a Western Conference West Coast team to have to travel all those time zones? Are guys feeling that right now, do you think?
COACH DeBOER: That's a good question. I don't know. I mean, that's a reality of what we deal with. The one thing about the guys here is they've never used it as an excuse. You never hear that as an excuse.
Coming out here as a first‑year coach, I thought I would hear that from these guys. I think they've been doing it for so long, it's a part of life and playing out here. They refuse to use it as an excuse. So I'm not going to.
It didn't stop L.A. from winning multiple Cups. We've got to find a way.

Q. Pete, is there anything in particular from your experience with the Devils that you're drawing on here in this window between the next game to help your guys' mental capacity?
COACH DeBOER: Yeah, I mean, I remember with the Devils, we were in a 3‑0 hole, which is a worse situation. Everyone was writing us off. We took the approach of, Why not us? I don't care what the record book says, that only one or two teams have come back from this situation, whatever those numbers are. Why can't we be the first team to do it?
It starts with one game. I think that's the approach we're going to take.

Q. You said earlier that one of the real key things here is no team is going to dominate for 60 minutes, but when you are kind of riding the flow that you need to take advantage of that, bury those chances when you get them. Some of your guys did have chances last night. Is it possible these guys are gripping their sticks too tight? What, in your coaching experience, is the why those chances are not getting buried?
COACH DeBOER: I don't know. I mean, that's the million‑dollar question. We've got to find out.
I don't believe it's gripping their sticks too tight. I think you have to give some credit to Pittsburgh. I think their goalie has made some big saves at key times on some of those looks.
If you look back, probably some of the teams that we defeated, I'm sure St.Louis, L.A. and Nashville, will look back and say, We had some opportunities to score and we didn't finish off. I think that's the story of every team. It's getting it done. The rubber is hitting the road here so to speak. We've got to find a way here. We're out of time.

Q. Pete, what have you seen from Pittsburgh's defense that has made them a bit vexing for your team's offensive attack so far?
COACH DeBOER: Well, I mean, they get back quickly. They just get the puck out of their own end as quickly as possible up to their forwards. There's nothing fancy about it.
Not afraid to rim it, to throw it out, to flip it out. They're not looking to make cute plays. They're just looking to get it out of their own zone as quickly as possible.
You've got to have a combination of aggressiveness and patience when you're playing a team like that. It can get frustrating at some points because you work hard to get in there, you know, they're just throwing it out past you again.
I think as the series has gone on, we've got better at finding that combination of aggressiveness and patience to try and turn some of those over. I thought last night we probably did as good a job as we have in the series of doing that.

Q. Pete, has there been much improvement in Hertl since we last saw him Friday? These two days off before the next game, does that give you hope he could get back for a Game5?
COACH DeBOER: Improvement every day that I've seen him. Hopeful, yes. I term him as day‑to‑day.
This time of year, guys find an inner strength and play with injuries. I mean, that's just what these guys do at this level. I'm not ruling him out for any games.

Q. Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski have been relatively quiet in this series. How do you think you can get the two of them going and how do you think that will help your team get back in the series?
COACH DeBOER: Well, I think they had some good looks last night. I thought every game they've found a way to create a little bit more.
But, you know, there is no magic answer. They get a ton of attention. I think our support group has to take a little bit of pressure off them. We got a goal from Melker Karlsson last night. We got to find a way to get some from some other people, too. We've got to draw a few more power plays, which usually creates some offense for those guys.
There's some things we can do. But I can tell you their effort, the things that they've done that have made them successful through the first three rounds of the playoffs haven't changed going into this round.
You have to give Pittsburgh some credit for the job they've done on them. The stars on both sides would tell you there's not a lot of room out there.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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