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May 22, 2010

Joel Quenneville


SCHUYLER BAEHMAN: Questions for Jonathan.

Q. What has it meant to you personally and the team to have the likes of Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita, Tony Esposito around?
JONATHAN TOEWS: It's been special to have them around for regular-season games, for them to be here when it matters most, it's pretty cool, great to have that support. I think it means just as much to them as if they were still lacing 'em up in the locker room and playing and stuff.
I think they're behind us every step of the way. You know, we're trying to do our best to not let them down.

Q. Jonathan, being one game away from the finals, Patrick Sharp said it's not something you're going to talk about. Duncan said you can use it as motivation. Which is it or is it a balance of both?
JONATHAN TOEWS: Maybe a little bit of both. Coming to the playoffs, I think it's the same idea. Coming into the first round, the ultimate goal is to win the Stanley Cup, but you're so far away at that point that you can't let yourself think about it too much.
A little bit of the same thing right now. It's very hard not to and very tough to not get excited about having that chance.
But still got a lot of work ahead of us. You know, that's what we're going to do our best to focus on.

Q. As captain, in the hours leading up to tomorrow's game, do you go through a series of checks and balances around the room, getting a gauge on guys, seeing their focus level? If so, how comfortable have you gotten doing that?
JONATHAN TOEWS: I mean, it's not always up to me. I think as a team, we've just done a great job of holding ourselves in check like that. You know, before every single game, there's always just a few things we want to say, some of the leaders want to bring to our team's attention. That's always just getting back to realizing what makes us successful.
I think the number one example is, you know, the two games we lost in the series against Vancouver. Those were two games that definitely stood out as games where we didn't bring everything we had. You saw what happened.
So we've been much more consistent with that effort this series. Of course, we've had a lot of breaks, a lot of bounces go our way, but that's also because of how hard we worked as well. We'll remind ourselves that we're not going anywhere if we don't work hard and we don't come and show up to play.

Q. You mentioned the consistency you seemed to have found. Where do you see the biggest growth from the start of the playoffs to right now?
JONATHAN TOEWS: Well, you know, even more than in the regular season, we've all seemed to identify our own roles quite a bit more. We've really seen what each guy can do to help the team work and be successful against other teams, whether it's certain guys keying on some of their best players, certain guys being very physical, or other guys scoring big goals. It doesn't really matter.
We all understand those little things we can do as individuals. We've all kind of embraced that and really gotten better and better at it.
Again, we know we're going to need, you know, different heroes, different guys to step up if we want to keep winning big games like we did last night. You know, that's what every single guy can be excited about. Whether you play 5 minutes or 25, you can go out there and make a play that's going to end up in a game-winning goal like last night.

Q. Because of all the young stars on these three teams, you have been compared a lot to Washington and Pittsburgh. The Penguins lost their first time in the playoffs in the first round. Washington continues to have their issues. You're eight game away from the Cup finals. Why is it you think you have figured this out faster than those two teams?
JONATHAN TOEWS: Well, we just got a great group. You look at Washington, Pittsburgh, you know, I don't really know that locker room. I can't tell you exactly what's different. But obviously they got the big names, the superstars on those teams. I think in our locker room, there are some guys game to game that get more credit.
But at the same time top to bottom, we're a complete team, and we have so many guys, if they're not on the third or fourth line checking, they could be on the second line and power-play and whatnot. So we got guys that really want to win so bad, they're willing to do anything that it takes.
It was the same thing last year. Unfortunately we weren't experienced enough. It just wasn't meant to be for us. This year we're back. We're definitely learning from that, using the experience we had last year.

Q. Going off the last point you made, can you talk a little bit about the fact, or is it easier to prepare for a stage this big since you've been there before?
JONATHAN TOEWS: Yeah. I mean, when you get to the Conference Finals like last year, you get that close, even though we were only about halfway to winning a Stanley Cup last year, you still feel pretty close. It's kind of a teaser. Really, you know, makes you want to win that much more. You feel like you got so much to lose when you're in a position like we are this year.
Every game is so stressful, it's tough to go to sleep at night thinking about it. You get so excited. But, yeah, you know, we're enjoying the moment and we're taking it one game at a time. It's been a heck of a ride so far. We want to keep going. So we're going to battle for each other.

Q. Three big kills in the third period last night, generally the penalty kills have been so consistent, why?
JONATHAN TOEWS: I guess it's just our work ethic. You know, pressure was on them last night, you know, to try and keep it a closer series. I don't know. Penalty kills have been great for us. Still stick with working hard, what's working for us, try to make it as tough as we can on them. Obviously, we don't want to be having to kill as many penalties as we have in Game 1, as well as last night.
I think that's a good thing about Game 4, is that, you know, there's still a lot of things that we did last night that we could be better at. We'll just look at it that way and hopefully improve going into tomorrow night's game.

Q. If you make it to the finals, what do you have to improve and how much better do you have to play?
JONATHAN TOEWS: Well, we'll just take it the same way we have throughout the entire playoffs. We keep getting better every single game. I think you compare our team to last series, I think there's a world of difference. We know that, you know, we're not talking about the final series yet, I just caught myself there (smiling).
We'll keep getting better. Tomorrow night we want to improve. Like I just said, we want to improve on some of the things we didn't do last night. We'll go from there.
We want to keep playing hockey as long as we can. If we get there, then, you know, hopefully we save the best for last.

Q. You blocked a key shot yesterday. You had 27 in the game. Can you talk about the importance of shot blocking, especially in this series against the Sharks.
JONATHAN TOEWS: It's good, yeah. I wanted to mix one in there one of the these days, not just leave it up to guys like Hammer and Sopes to block the shots all the time.
Yeah, I don't think they were expecting me to stand in front of that one there. Might have caught them by surprise when Bolland went in there. It was a big goal for us. Unfortunately we couldn't hold it off till the end. But we're still confident as a team that we could.
You know, a lot of guys have been stepping up and doing little things like that. It's just part of our job, I guess.

Q. You mentioned the team over the course of the season has identified their roles within the group, that is a way you have improved. Is that something that Joel and his staff, since he's been here, in your mind, is something they really focused on, communicated to guys, This is what your role is? Do you think it's really important in the teams you've been on, guys having those roles to succeed?
JONATHAN TOEWS: Yeah. I mean, over the regular season, I would say it probably didn't matter as much. Not taking anything away from how hard we worked over the regular season. But I think we had a very talented team. We found ways to win games even if we weren't playing our best hockey.
But this time of year, it's entirely different. You got to be on top of things. I think guys are hopping over the boards with, you know, specific jobs and things they need to do in their mind. So you've seen guys like Bolland, Ladder and Versteeg do great things against some of the star players we've been up against. Duncan and Seabrook, you can go down the list of guys that have been doing great things out there.
Of course, it's something we all understand. But we all want to kind of play outside that, as well.

Q. I remember you mentioning when you became captain, you got a text from Sidney Crosby. At the Olympics, during downtime, maybe you picked his brain, talked about the journey in these playoffs, given what he's accomplished in the last couple years?
JONATHAN TOEWS: It's never been something that I've directly spoken to anybody about. But I think you kind of get a sense, when you're on a team, like Team Canada, I can't remember how many captains were in that room, but you definitely kind of get a sense of what kind of leader a guy like Sidney is or Jarome Iginla, just by talking to them, getting to know them, how they affect their teammates in the locker room. You don't really have to talk to them directly to find that out.
That was definitely a learning experience for me.

Q. Before the playoffs started you talked about the confidence you had in both goalies, especially in Niemi. Is there anything you've learned in these playoffs about Niemi that you didn't already know?
JONATHAN TOEWS: Well, I wouldn't say he's proving me wrong. He's proved a lot of people wrong. But he's exceeding even our expectations. You know, he just seems so cool and collected. All the praise and everything that's being thrown his way, it just seems like it doesn't matter to him. He doesn't even seem that excited about it. He just wants to play hockey. He just seems like he's having fun.
Such a relaxed guy, none of this stuff is affecting him. He knows he's got a job to do. He's brought it every single night. So he's been a huge part of our team, obviously.
SCHUYLER BAEHMAN: Thanks a lot, Jonathan.
JONATHAN TOEWS: Thanks, guys.

End of FastScripts

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