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NHL STANLEY CUP FINALS: KINGS v DEVILS


May 31, 2012


Peter DeBoer


NEWARK, NEW JERSEY: Practice Day

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Coach DeBoer.

Q. When you fell behind in past series, did you make tangible changes that made a difference? Can you do that now?
COACH DeBOER: We didn't make tangible changes. We fixed what we felt went wrong.
I think when I look back at our playoff trail, you know, one of the areas that's cropped up in every round is we've been a little tentative in the first game, you know, kind of felt our way, and then jumped in with both feet in Game2. I think that's hopefully what we'll do here again.

Q. Before the series started, you said they looked good on film, but you're going to learn a lot more about them after Game1. What did you find out?
COACH DeBOER: Yeah, they're a good team. You know, they played a good road game. They came out, they press you. They don't give you a lot of time and space. They're big. They're fast. They've got a good goalie.
The scouting report we had on them was exactly what we saw.

Q. You've talked a lot about Kovalchuk and his leadership. Specifically I'm wondering about what you've seen in terms of evolution on his defensive game, play away from the puck, defensive game. What have you seen from him?
COACH DeBOER: I think just more of a commitment, you know, an understanding that you have to play a 200‑foot game at this time of the year in order to win. Everybody's going doing it. The good teams that survive this long don't get here unless everyone's committed to doing that.
He's definitely getting better. He still has work to do, but he's making that commitment.

Q. What do you think was keeping you from getting your forecheck established more consistently? Was it not good dump‑ins, them holding you up a little bit, their goalie?
COACH DeBOER: All of the above. You know, you want a nice boxed answer on how to fix it. It's not that easy. The game starts in your own end breaking out clean, getting through the neutral zone with speed, putting the puck in the right place, running good forecheck routes, keeping pucks alive with pinches.
There's no clean answer to it. We've got to be a little sharper in all our areas.

Q. On Kovalchuk, he said the other day that going on the penalty kill helped his defensive abilities. What was the thought process in that? Did you think putting him on the penalty kill would help him be a better all‑around player?
COACH DeBOER: The motive to put him on the penalty kill wasn't to make him a better all‑around player. I think that was a side effect of him playing on the penalty kill.
Early in the season we just felt that he was playing well. We wanted to give him that opportunity in that situation. One of the side effects of that was that, you know, I think it helped his defensive game, and so did he.
That wasn't the reason to do it, but it was a nice side effect.

Q. Pete, I know you're in the midst of trying to win this thing. You're staying in the moment. Have you allowed yourself at all to think throughout these playoffs when you've been in the situation about Parise possibly playing his last game as a Devil here in this building?
COACH DeBOER: No, no.

Q. It's your first Stanley Cup. All the media hubbub and everything that goes around, getting tickets for family and stuff, when did 'This is the Stanley Cup stuff' end for you and when did it become 'This is just another playoff series'?
COACH DeBOER: I think when they dropped the puck last night. I don't think there's any avoiding the distractions that go with playing this time of year. Lou addressed our entire group after the conference final on exactly what you're talking about, based on his experiences, trying to limit as many of those things as you can. But there's no avoiding them.
I thought we did a good job. But the reality is, you know, until the puck drops and the games start, this is a different situation you're dealing with. You have to handle it the best you can.

Q. Talking about the forecheck, it seemed to me in the first half of the game in your own end, guys didn't have time to take a look or settle the puck. Their first look was always covered. Did that improve as the game went on? If so, why?
COACH DeBOER: In the words of John Tortorella, Don't coach (smiling).
We have multiple issues. You know what, again, I can't box this up and wrap this up in one nice little package for you. We had a lot of different issues. Some of them you give credit to them for what they did. Some of them were self‑inflicted. We've got to fix 'em all up.

Q. Why is it this time of year, teams in this position tend to have defensemen, they're not necessarily stars, but they're so important, Salvador, Willie Mitchell maybe, guys which were not very heralded coming into the league, but playing 25 minutes a night in the Stanley Cup Playoffs?
COACH DeBOER: You can't have enough defensemen this time of year. You see the games. There's a lot of chess‑match hockey out there. When you get to this point in the playoffs, the Conference Finals, the Stanley Cup Finals, the teams that get here, you know, aren't just talented, they're very good technically. Their systems are right on. There's not a lot of room. There's no room for mistakes.
That's why you need defensemen that make good reads, make the right decisions. You know, Sal has done a great job for us on that.

Q. When you hear Marty and Patrik and Kovy say that they were nervous as opposed to inexperienced guys, does that worry you at all? Does it surprise you even a little?
COACH DeBOER: No. This is a huge deal. It doesn't matter whether you played in this situation before. I mean, Patty hasn't been here in nine years. Kovy's never been here. So that doesn't surprise me. It doesn't surprise me we dealt with some of that early in the game.
I thought, as the game progressed, we kind of got through that. Now that's in the rearview mirror and we can just play.

Q. After the game, it seemed that some of the commentators were talking about the condition of the ice. Was it any worse than normal or is it the same for both teams and you play on it?
COACH DeBOER: It's the same for both teams. The ice conditions this time of year, regardless of where you're playing, aren't going to be great. It's something you have to deal with.

Q. Coaches have different relationships with their goaltender depending on different factors. You've talked about how important Marty was in buying in and getting everyone on the same page. Is your relationship with him different than you imagined it might be when you first got the job?
COACH DeBOER: You know, Marty and I, I think, you know, think the game the same. When I hear him speak after a game, either to you guys or the comments he makes in the dressing room, they're usually, you know, dead‑on to what I would be saying or to what I am thinking.
We don't have a lot of conversations, but he thinks like a coach, and he has a great read on our team, a great analysis of how we played.
The comforting thing for me is when I listen to the comments of our players last night, they were dead‑on. We weren't good enough. We have to be better. We got over the early game jitters. We started to play a little bit better.
But, you know, as a group, we've got to bring more to win this time of year.

Q. What was it like for you when you have ideas of how this team is supposed to play and you have to enter the season without Travis Zajac?
COACH DeBOER: Yeah, it's tough. You know, your number one center is gone, basically gone for the season before you drop a puck in training camp. But this is a league that doesn't allow you to feel sorry for yourself. You know, you just have to look for solutions.
Patrik Elias moved in the middle. A guy like Henrique came up in the minors, those type of things.

Q. I understand you can't put it in a box. You just did say, we have to be better. If you have to pick one thing that would be at the top of that list, what would that be?
COACH DeBOER: You know, the word is 'execution' for me. Our execution was poor in a lot of areas.

Q. Your thoughts on the way Ilya Kovalchuk and Drew Doughty went at it? Was Doughty that good last game or was Kovalchuk part of the team that struggled along trying to create some offense?
COACH DeBOER: A little bit of both.

Q. Do you need to do more to get him away from Doughty?
COACH DeBOER: No. Doughty is going to play as much as he has to play. There's no getting away from that. We can't focus on that. This time of year, you've got to play head‑to‑head against good players and you've got to win those battles. That's the bottom line.

Q. Coach, you mentioned the jitters and some self‑inflicted mistakes. Did you expect that, given the occasion? Is there anything you can do to try and minimize those?
COACH DeBOER: Good question. I mean, hindsight is 20/20. I don't know what we would have done differently.
Again, we anticipated them. We got through them with little damage. We got a chance to get into overtime in the first game with a chance to win. You know, I can't look at anything I would do differently.
We anticipated they'd be there. They were there. We worked through it. We've got to move forward now.

Q. Is this two‑day break a good thing after losing a game or would you rather get out there?
COACH DeBOER: Yeah, I think we'd like to jump right back in and play. I'm sure they would, too, after getting a win. I think you want to play, for me, every other day this time of year, that's the perfect scenario. But we'll take the time to fix what we have to fix.

Q. The Kings are perfect on the road. From what you saw, what makes them a tough team to play on the road?
COACH DeBOER: I mean, pretty simple formula: they play hard, they get good goaltending. I don't know. You know, we had a chance to win that game last night. We'll just try again on Saturday.

Q. What is the process over the two‑day break? How do you approach it? Does it allow you to learn more about the opponents because you haven't played them since October?
COACH DeBOER: Well, the process is, we came in this morning, we rewatched the game, break down the tape, decide what areas have to be fixed. We gave the players a day off to stay away from the rink.
Tomorrow we'll come in, you know, look at the tape with them, the areas we need to improve, have a good practice, go at it Saturday night.
Thanks.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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