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May 19, 2017
Anaheim, California - Practice Day
Q. Last time you guys won a Cup you had a 30-year-old goalie. Now you've got a 23-year-old who earlier in the Playoffs looked a little -- struggled a bit. Just wondering what have you noticed out of him, where maybe he doesn't look as young as he actually is?
COACH CARLYLE: Well, I think what you try to do, and it's not any different than any other player or positional player in our hockey club, if our goaltender can outplay their goaltender, then our chances go up dramatically. If our centerman can outplay their centerman our chances go up dramatically.
So we tried to adopt that mentality going forward that no matter who you're up against or who you're playing against, that we looked the challenge and like the challenge to outplay the person you're playing against.
With Gibby, there's the first two series, Calgary and Edmonton, we thought that in the situations that he was presented in, in the most, I guess, stressful time or most intense time, he played his best hockey.
So that's where you see the growth and you see the competitiveness inside where he doesn't normally display the emotions outwardly. But he definitely is a competitor inside.
Q. First it was Ryan Johansen. And last night it was Pekka Rinne who was pretty frustrated about the way you guys played against him, and especially Corey Perry. Is that something that tells you that you're playing the game the right way and doing the things you want to do against him?
COACH CARLYLE: I don't know if that tells you anything other than that's one capsule of a hockey game. The game before, I would say that they had a lot more bodies to the net than we did. So last night was an opportunity for us to reset ourselves, and if that's the way the game is going to be played, they were allowed that freedom, and we just felt that if we're going to have success, then we're going to take on the same model.
And we felt that going to the net is going to be one of our trademarks and it has been all year, and it's not any different. And I'm sure that's the same for their hockey club.
Q. The trade that brought in Silfverberg and Ritchie turned out to be a pretty savvy one. Could you talk about how those two guys have impacted your roster and maybe helped shape the identity of the team?
COACH CARLYLE: Again, I wasn't here when that trade was made. I was in a different situation in my life, what they call the Big Smoke in Canada. And the fire was pretty hot in that environment.
And so I had my share of worrying to do about what was going on in the situation I was in. But all I know is that those two players that have made a contribution for our hockey club -- both Silfverberg, I would say, more so than Ritchie from the standpoint, but Ritchie is a young kid growing into a role.
And we believe that he has the ability to score goals in the league because of his awareness around the net, his size, and his ability to release the puck. If you see the way he shoots the puck, and we see it every day in practice and you don't get to really watch it like we do and talk to our goaltenders about it, it's a pretty, I'd say, accurate and heavy shot.
He scored an awful lot of goals in junior hockey in the off side, scoring them where he scored the goal last night. So that leads us to believe -- and he's had to make some changes in his approach to being a professional. And we think that the biggest step he made was last summer, allowing him to transform his body into a lot more, I guess, suited to the professional hockey player, where when he was a young kid, he had to figure this stuff out. And it's going to have to continue. But we're very, very fortunate to have him.
And I don't know if there's any more of an explanation point that you can put on Silfverberg from the standpoint, coaches like players that are no maintenance and that are players that go out and play the game the way you perceive it to be played and do what's necessary to help their team. And Silvy fits that model.
Q. You just talked about being in Toronto where they were starting a rebuild. You go through Calgary, you go through Edmonton. Both those teams were not very good for a long time. And now they're getting better. The Anaheim Ducks have been good every year. You guys always have a good team. Now you're building this group, this whole new young group is coming up -- with Silfverberg and with Kel and Lindholm and all these other players -- what's it like being you to coach these guys, turn them into something and knowing that you've got a good pipeline going on here?
COACH CARLYLE: I think as a coach we can say -- and people will criticize or pump your tires on the job that you do, but if you don't have the horses, you're not going to make it to the races. And that's the way I look at it.
You have to have quality players. And in our model, and we've stated this numerous times, that we don't want to rush people. We want to put people into situations that they can have success. And we want to make sure that they understand that we're looking for those players to make a contribution to our group for 15 years, not five years.
And there's a right way to play and there's a wrong way to play. And sometimes there's friction trying to develop that. And there's an understanding that has to take place that this is the way that we believe it should be done and that's a standard that's set from up above, in management, ownership, what our expectations are for our group.
Q. In regards to Gibson's growth, do you think that his progress has been more of just him being comfortable (indiscernible), just showing what he's capable of? Or is he growing game by game?
COACH CARLYLE: I think with Gibby it's more along the lines of comfort zone. He's been a successful goaltender at every level prior to the NHL. And he's had some notable statistics to support him. And he was here last year with Freddy Andersen. They formed a pretty durable duo.
And obviously when situations and contracts and all of those numbers get put to the test over the summer, the decision was made to stay with Gibby. And the decision looks like a good one right now, doesn't it?
Q. I know you met with some of the players before the season, like Ritchie and so forth. Did you do that with Gibson at all, just to meet with him and talk to him?
COACH CARLYLE: I didn't meet him personally, but I had numerous conversations with him. And there's a three-prong approach that usually takes place with any of the players, depending on, more specifically the goaltenders, because they have their own coach. And it starts with your strength and conditioning, the head coach, and then the goaltending coach.
And then try to put a plan in place that's going to check the boxes off in which you create the portfolio that you create for your goaltender during the summer months, and what we feel he needs to do both from a strength and conditioning standpoint, from a goaltending coach's standpoint and from a head coach's standpoint.
So those are the things that we try to do. That's not any different with any other player. But goalies are a little bit different because they have their individual coach. And as long as the three of you provide a list that is unified and there's nobody pulling one way or the other, then usually that message does get delivered the right way. And if the athlete or the player understands that, usually you're going to see some sort of growth.
Q. When you were here before, you expressed confidence in Cam when he was 18 years old, included him on the team, put him in stressful situations and took his lumps for a few years. Now that you see him play in this role, is this what you envisioned -- a guy like that playing the big minutes and kind of running the team from the back end?
COACH CARLYLE: We obviously thought a lot of him. The amazing part for us, and I was part of it that time on the draft floor, when we had him rated as highly as we had him rated, and he fell to 12, we would never ever have dreamed that that player would be available to us at that point in the draft.
And we've talked about that a lot. And he has not disappointed. The one thing that the game has changed dramatically in the favor of the skill set of players like Cam Fowler -- puck moving, skating, free flowing or join the rush, puck recovery. All of that has probably been a huge, huge change from traditional.
Yeah, you still need some meat on the back end, but if you notice the teams that are playing the up-tempo style, their D men are involved in probably every rush.
Q. Cam, I wanted to ask you about John Gibson, 23 years old. You saw what he could do last year. But how surprised or impressed are you by what he's been able to do these Playoffs?
CAM FOWLER: No, there's no surprise. I mean, he's always had that ability. He's a confident kid. And no matter what the situation is, he's not overwhelmed. So he's been amazing for us. He's kept us in hockey games. He's helped us win hockey games. And he seems really confident. So he's doing a great job for us.
Q. I know you've worked with Scott Niedermayer and know him very well. He used to play big minutes and sort of run the game in the Playoffs. You're getting to that point, you're doing that now. What are the things that kind of reverberate in your head that he used to tell you about handling those situations and kind of being the guy on the back line?
CAM FOWLER: I mean, to be honest, that's kind of a hard thing for someone to teach how to do, but I think the biggest thing, he's always told me to just be confident in myself and trust my skating. And when I do that things seem to fall into place for me. It always starts with being assertive with the puck and skating.
When I do that, I'm able to settle into the hockey game and then not have to think as much. That's really the main thought I have before every game is trust your skating ability, push the pace at both ends of the ice. And I thought I did a better job of that last night. And hopefully I can continue to keep that up.
Q. Rinne was pretty frustrated last night about the way that Perry played against him and generally, too, not only last night. Is that something that tells you that you're playing the game the right way and doing the things you want?
CAM FOWLER: Well, I mean, to have any success against him you're going to have to make life difficult. He's playing at a very high level right now. And so you have to make things uncomfortable for him, you know, while doing everything within the rules of hockey.
And whether that's traffic in front or stopping right in front of him when he makes a save, we try and play hard but we try and play fair, too. So if he's frustrated with it, maybe there was a lot of traffic in front of him. And when that happens goalies tend to get frustrated because there's just a lot of commotion. So that's good, hopefully we can continue to do that.
Q. You play in a division where there's been lots of teams that do these big rebuilds and they're not good for a long time. Then they kind of find their way. Meanwhile, the Anaheim Ducks are good all the time. There's been no rebuild, really, since probably '07 even. And now there's this big crew, you and Rakell and Silfverberg and all these guys coming up, does it feel like there's a new leadership group that I'm not saying you've taken over from Getzlaf and Perry yet, but there's a good base to keep this thing going?
CAM FOWLER: We certainly hope so. And credit to our management for always putting a competitive team out there. In this day and age it's very hard to do. A lot of that is through the draft and the things that we've been able to do and the players we've been able to get. So we feel like hopefully in the long run we're set up nicely.
But until that time we still have those guys -- Getzlaf, Pers, our main leaders that we can lead on. But we certainly have a lot of younger players, too, that are taking on a bigger role. So that's important as well.
Q. On that first goal last night, they were a little light with the change and you spotted the situation. And can you kind of walk us through that again, please?
CAM FOWLER: Yeah, I think it was just a turnover in the neutral zone, or it might have been -- we tried really hard last night to work on our gap control so that we didn't give their skilled forwards time to make plays, which we thought we did too much of in Game 3.
So it might have been just a loose puck off something like that, off a turnover. And everyone was going for a change and I was going to go set up behind the net and just keep control of the puck.
But I saw Rak standing there at the blue line. And that's a generally simple play for a D-man to make when you see a guy standing alone. And he made the rest of the play with the shot. That's a tough shot. He kind of shot across his body with no screen and he was able to beat him. So credit to him. That was a heck of a play by him.
Q. Going back to Game 6 in the second round and Gibson's play, he gets pulled from that game. And maybe another goalie kind of takes it the wrong way and never recovers from that. But if anything he's been stronger since that game. What have you noticed out of him in terms of that temperament or that competitiveness where he's able to bounce back like that?
CAM FOWLER: I think it's a great characteristic of him is that he doesn't get fazed when things like that happen. I think it helped that that entire game almost didn't even really seem real. It was one of those games where you kind of scratch your head after and it was, like, how did something like that happen.
But he's a guy that, like I said, he doesn't get fazed with the motion or the situation. He doesn't overthink things. He knows that he belongs there and he's a starting goaltender and a really good one. So you knew he was going to bounce back with a great performance, which he did in Game 7 and he's just kept that momentum going.
Q. How do you feel about where the power play is now after six weeks after the Playoffs? And is it harder to establish and maintain a consistent power play in the Playoffs because of the pressure and all the variables, and the opponents get to know you and everything?
CAM FOWLER: The power play, it's a difficult thing to maintain. I mean, it can get really hot. Or it can go really cold. And when it goes cold, it's tough to kind of work your way out of that. And, you know, we're experimenting with a few different things right now. We're doing the best we can.
They're a good penalty-killing team. They're very aggressive. So, they force you to make plays with the puck when you're under pressure, just like their 5-on-5 games.
We feel like we're close. But we need to start contributing a little bit more on special teams if we want to have success in the rest of the series.
Q. I think a couple of days ago you had mentioned the need for the younger D guys to learn how to make plays under pressure. I was wondering how much has this series kind of been trial by error for them? And maybe how much have they made some strides in doing that?
CAM FOWLER: I didn't mean them specifically. I just felt as a group, myself included, all of us, it was important to do that because with the way that they play, you know, if you're continuing to chip pucks up the wall and flip pucks in the neutral zone, they're able to transition so well and it feeds into their whole style of game.
And last night I thought we did a much better job of that, especially in the first half of the game. Things got a little squirrelly there at the end. But it comes with experience. You have to trust yourself that sometimes the simple play is the one to make and it's hard off the glass. But there's other times where plays need to be made so that we can control the puck and start to play on the offensive side of things, too. So I thought our guys did a better job of that last night.
Q. You guys have been in this situation entering Game 5 tied 2-2, many times the past few years. Can you draw on that experience now tomorrow night?
CAM FOWLER: Yeah, I mean, a lot of the things that we've been going through this postseason, a good amount of us have experienced before, a Game 7 in our building the last series, and we were kind of able to climb that hurdle. So I think we're comfortable with where we're at right now.
Last night was obviously massive for us to pull that one out. And we obviously enjoy playing in front of our home fans and feel that we can use home ice to our advantage. And but, yeah, the experiences that we've gone through has helped us when things have, or when we've faced adversity so far this Playoff. So hopefully that can help us out again.
Q. John, obviously Game 6 in the second round didn't go the way you or Anaheim wanted. Just wondering how were you able to kind of recover from that game since then, put together a nice string right now?
JOHN GIBSON: It's only one game. I mean, I think the longer you play in the Playoffs, the more games you play, you're bound to have an off night, whether it's a couple of individuals or a team or whatever. And I think we've all said from day one, it's how you rebound and how you follow that up. And I think since then we've obviously done a good job.
Q. Nick, the last several games there's been a lot of talk about energy, whether it was present or whether it wasn't -- after the big Game 5 win over Edmonton in Game 6, after Game 7 against Edmonton, Game 1. In order to win this series, you guys are going to have to win back-to-back games at some point. So how do you meet that challenge now of coming out tomorrow night and having the necessary energy?
NICK RITCHIE: I think tomorrow night is obviously -- every game turns into the biggest game of the series. And a huge one last night obviously. And we get back home tomorrow and obviously the biggest game of the season. So we're looking to come out and play like we have all Playoffs.
And we've won this -- three in a row, as many as that in the Playoffs, or even four in a row back to the Calgary series. We can definitely win two in a row. And we're a confident group and I think we can get it done.
Q. John, we've seen Nick score some pretty good goals from distance and really all year. As a goalie, when you're practicing and everything, is there anything deceptive about his shot or what's it like dealing with him?
JOHN GIBSON: I usually tell him to shoot from the top of the circle because it's pretty heavy. Sometimes it hurts. Yeah, he's got a good shot. Not only is it accurate, but it's pretty heavy. You guys might not be able to tell, but from my standpoint, experiencing it, it's pretty heavy.
Q. Nick, I know at the end of your OHL career you wanted to go somewhere that was competitive and ended up getting trade to Ste. Marie, nice run there, and also World Juniors. I wanted to ask how those experiences kind of prepared you for the Stanley Cup Playoffs?
NICK RITCHIE: I got a chance, got to the at the end of junior to play some meaningful playoff games with the Soo. And obviously I was pretty fortunate at the time to get some playoff action, where I didn't really get that earlier in my junior stuff.
But I guess it kind of prepared me. And obviously the NHL Playoffs is a lot different and ramped up even more. But I guess all those things along the way do help to get to this point.
Q. Nick, just a follow-up question on your shot. When you were growing up, was there a player you tried to emulate or pattern your game after, as far as getting off a good shot?
NICK RITCHIE: Not really. No. I think there's a lot of guys in the league now that have -- that are talked about having a really good shot.
I don't know if it's the sticks or whatever it is now, but people are always getting recognized for that kind of thing.
And I think it's just something that everyone works on and we practice so much. So shots are just getting better and better, I think, year to year.
Q. John, you were back and forth with Freddy Andersen, and the whole hockey world was trying to figure out who was going to be the number one goalie here. When Bob Murray makes that trade and the other guy goes somewhere else and they give you the ball and you've got a pretty good team here, what happens? What's it feel like to be the guy when they say: Okay, your job, take it?
JOHN GIBSON: It's obviously exciting. But there's pressure that comes with it. You obviously want to prove to the guys and the management and the coaches that their decision, they made the right one. And just be confident in there. And I think for me I just kind of went out there, didn't really change too much. Obviously I expected to play more and have a heavier workload. So I changed that a little bit.
But as far as me, I still approach it the same way, go out and have fun, but obviously there's a little more pressure.
Q. John, Nashville is making a pretty concerted effort to get in front of you, get near you and even touch you sometimes, had a couple of goals taken off the board in Game 3. Is there anything out of the ordinary in the way the Predators do that, and how do you handle the physical aspect of the game when there's guys interfering with you, trying to tread that fine line?
JOHN GIBSON: I said it before, I think in the Playoffs, most of the goals you see aren't going to be pretty. Obviously look at the game-winner last night.
But as far as the contact, I think all we do -- we go to the net, too. They go to the net. I think we're confident that we play on the line, and if the line is crossed, we trust one way or the other that the ref's going to make the decision, call it fair.
And I think it's been pretty fair. And obviously we've had a couple of collisions and they've had a couple of collisions, but I think that they're doing a good job where if they're really disrupting you in the ability to make a save or they're (indiscernible) it down, or making the necessary whatever it is.
Q. Nick, I talked to both Randy and (indiscernible), and they said that one of the big steps forward you've taken, conditioning, nutrition, that kind of stuff. What was communicated to you during the offseason and what did you change?
NICK RITCHIE: It was a big offseason. Obviously I was a young player coming up from Junior and had my first year professional. And it was just something I focused on to make myself better as a player.
Didn't do anything crazy, just focused on it and had a good summer training and ate healthy. And I think it's helped out a lot.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports