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May 14, 2003

Jacques Lemaire


Q. Jacques, has Bouchard's progress this season been about what you hoped when you kept him in September?

JACQUES LEMAIRE: Can you repeat this?

Q. Bouchard, has his progress been about what you had hoped when you kept him in September?

JACQUES LEMAIRE: You know, we're very proud that this kid has been progressing. I know that he didn't play a lot in the playoffs, but he's very young, and, you know, he still has to get stronger, which he will. He's a finesse player. We played against weaker teams, which made it tougher for him to have success, and we want him to have success when he's going to play. That's why we choose the game that we felt he would be able to play, you know, at his best against a skating team, more finesse or less aggressive.

Q. Jacques, you said before Game 2, you sensed the team was somewhat tight and prepared a little bit differently than they had been. What's your sense heading into tonight on their focus and how they're going to play?

JACQUES LEMAIRE: I think we look good. They skated well yesterday right after the plane ride and today they look good, so, hopefully they'll feel the same tonight.

Q. Jacques, a lot of the personnel moves you make you're still keeping an eye on the bigger picture beyond the series in terms of the progression of certain players and how they're going to mature. Does it get tougher when you're in the Western Conference Finals. Are you at all tempted -- how do you balance making sure players are progressing and the franchise is progressing and you're trying to win?

JACQUES LEMAIRE: We want the guys to progress, but the thing is, I think it's more important at this stage to win games than progressing. Changes -- every changes that we make, the coaching staff, is to try to improve the team. We think of what we need, and what we need to do on the ice, and we're trying to add the player that will give us that.

Q. Has that changed since the first round?

JACQUES LEMAIRE: Not that much. Not that much. It's been like that all the time. The only thing is on Bouchard, because we talked about him, we wanted him to, you know, be able to live this, the playoffs, the experience, how it is in the NHL in the playoffs, and we wanted to play him, and we had to find games to play him, because it's a great experience for him. You know, he's going to go back, he knows he's got a lot of work to do to get -- you know, to be able to compete every night, which I have no doubt that he will do in the future, but, you know, it's nice to -- you know, to let him feel this and live this.

Q. Yes, some of the guys say they have to push harder on offense and some of them have to be more patient. It sounds like two different things to me. Which is it, really?

JACQUES LEMAIRE: It's a different line. It's a fine line offense and being patient. I think you look at Anaheim the way they play when they don't get the puck, a lot of times their first man and close to the red line, and the other four guys are in between the red and blue line, and when they do have a chance, though, and they feel that they can get the forechecking going, then they're right on top, but, when you get in the playoffs, sometimes -- a lot of times you're excited and this is tough to control, when to go, when to lay back a bit and be patient.

Q. Jacques, I missed your first two answers so I apologize, but in regards to getting more goals, you've done a lot more of that on the road. You've got a great record on the road. Is there maybe a little bit of comfort level that you're away from the XCEL Energy Center and in the series here trying to get back?

JACQUES LEMAIRE: I don't think we're in the comfort level now. We're looking for one win, the first win. There is no doubt we want to play the best we can. We know -- you know, we have been scoring more on the road than we did at home in both series, and hopefully we will be able to do this tonight.

Q. Jacques, any further communication needed with Gaborik, sort of, talking about his frustrations right now or your sense of where his head is at right now coming off Game 2?

JACQUES LEMAIRE: Gabby, I think his head is fine. I think he's focusing on the game. He's -- you know, I mentioned this a lot. He's a young kid. He's got a lot to learn. He's got a lot of pressure because of all the press and the people want him to score goals, but Gaborik is among -- is a piece of the puzzle only. He's a player on our team. We don't look at him as a star or the "go" man or the leader. He's a player. That's it. So, we're trying to -- if he feels a lot of pressure, then we're trying to help him so he doesn't feel that. We want him to feel like the other guys, just do your job. The other guys will do their job, and things will go well.

Q. Jacques, do you have any explanation for why your team is so much better on the road?

JACQUES LEMAIRE: No idea. Maybe a little comfort at home that we don't have on the road. We're a little more scared. I don't know. When we're home, the family's there, people are very excited with what they've achieved. They're talking to them, how good they are. Maybe just that little relaxation does it. On the road, then they feel they're against everybody. There is not five people that will cheer for us tonight, so it will be good.

Q. Jacques, there has been a lot of controversy about sticks breaking in the playoffs. What are your thoughts about the sticks?

JACQUES LEMAIRE: I don't know. You know, I see them break all the time, and we get frustrated. We don't know -- I just talked to Cliff today about it. I said, "Is this the same stick that you used?" He said, Yeah, before I stopped the shot with the stick, and maybe they got -- he got -- it got weaker, so he said, When I shot, I broke it, because of the puck that hit the stick before. He said it was at the same place, so maybe when the stick gets a bang, after that, it breaks. You see a lot of types of slashing that a guy, you know, goes down hard on the other guy's stick and it breaks in two. So, I don't know about these sticks.

End of FastScripts...

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