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May 14, 2018

John Carlson

Washington, D.C.: Practice Day

Q. You guys, I think, have scored first in 12 out of 14. How much has scoring first and leading so many of the minutes in these playoffs so far sort of helped you guys dictate how games are going to be played?
JOHN CARLSON: Something we've always talked about all year. Kind of in the past maybe not one of our strong suits. Just the game has a different feel when you score first. Not that that's going to define the game, but especially on the road, I think if you can score first, that's a huge advantage. We've been pretty good on the road and pretty good at scoring first, so they probably go together.

Q. How much of a different feel was it to have a younger team this year?
JOHN CARLSON: Just that you know you kind of guide them differently. You have different conversations and a different kind of feel in the room. Ultimately just everyone working to get better, I think that's what it comes down to. You want to be a positive influence on the kids and show them work ethic and those sort of things. But also just get them engaged and ready for what it's going to take to play in this league.

Everyone comes in with a boatload of skill and all that. It's just about maybe grooming the personality to fit with the game.

Q. Do you think it helped to have some fresh blood? Kind of some different pieces?
JOHN CARLSON: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I think especially as talented as the pieces we did add or, I guess, graduate. But it's more about what they've kind of stepped into and grew into. I think in the beginning of the year we weren't playing nearly as well as we are now because there was an adjustment period. You kind of just try to navigate it the best you can to get to where we are now playing good hockey.

Q. Granted you're in the Conference Final and you're up 2-zip going home. But it just feels like this group this year is a little more comfortable in its own skin. Do you feel this is just a different dynamic this season compared to previous springs?
JOHN CARLSON: I mean, not a heck of a lot, to be honest. I think this team has done the little things maybe a little bit better than other teams in the past have been able to do. There's no magic potion. I'm not going to sit here and say we didn't try our hardest and get close to reaching the Eastern Conference Finals before.

But in my mind, this team's special. The ones before were special too, just couldn't find a way to get it done.

Q. Is it healthy to remember the Columbus series, being down 2-0, and to recognize how vulnerable a series can be one way or another?
JOHN CARLSON: Yeah, I think so. I think we wanted to make sure that we had a good effort last night, too, in the same sense that the series could turn quickly. You always want to be on the right side of things. The way that we started the game, and obviously finished the game, was really positive for us. But another pivotal game. Got to ramp everything up just a little bit more, but I think we'll be energized and ready to play in front of our fans. It's going to be pretty fun.

Q. Sometimes you hear how a team grows is how it deals with failure. Does this team deal with success better (indiscernible)?
JOHN CARLSON: I don't know. I think I like our mentality throughout games and throughout series. Kind of a little more laid back and a little less harsh on ourselves than, I think, in years past. That's kind of allowed us to hit the reset button when we need to, change the momentum of a game, or just not playing up to our standards and find a way to get a little bit better. That's on the leadership and this group to rally everyone around. But overall I'd say it's a little bit more laid back, and we're having a lot of fun right now.

Q. (Indiscernible) was talking about how the puck position games kind of fall apart in the series and you're not allowed much zone time at all, what's been the key in that happening?
JOHN CARLSON: I think the neutral zone, you could make the case for the more we play down there it's harder for them to have sustained attacks on us. But I think neutral zone has been crucial. If they're dumping pucks there, we're getting a little bit more time than we do when we're not as sharp in the neutral zone. That's kind of been a huge, low-key difference maker for us this season is when we do that well. Break the puck out a lot easier in the speed that we have. The skill, it's against aggressive teams like them and a lot of other teams that we've played are left in the playoffs, the crisper you can be on your execution and breakouts and all that, it's tough to defend against when they're wanting to pinch down all the time and challenge the exits and stuff like that.

Q. Can you (indiscernible) kind of matter of fact for the group rather than last year you guys (indiscernible) like just that big splash?
JOHN CARLSON: Yeah, I think you always try to do what's best for the team. I think Kemp's fit in great. He's a great guy that loves to play. I've loved playing with him so far this season. Yeah, just another -- I don't know really how to answer your question, but Kemps is playing well, and we like having him here.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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