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NHL STANLEY CUP FINALS: KINGS v DEVILS


June 1, 2012


Peter DeBoer


NEWARK, NEW JERSEY: Practice Day

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Coach DeBoer.

Q. Coach, watching the guys on the ice, there were a lot of smiles. We sense the seriousness when it was drill time. The mood is good. How much do you think this has to do with the guys being in this spot several times being down 0‑1?
COACH DeBOER: I think familiarity, absolutely. We know we've been here before. I think also after looking at the tape, we think we know what we have to fix. I think there's a comfort level there that we can get that done.

Q. Was there a message to the team that you imparted at any time today?
COACH DeBOER: Just what we talked about yesterday. We went through the tape, the three or four areas we need to fix, let's get to work. We worked on some of that in practice. Guys are excited to play.

Q. You've talked a bit about Harrold, when he came up from Albany. What gave you the confidence to trust him with a lot of responsibilities that you might not otherwise see?
COACH DeBOER: I think when guys get that opportunity, they have to make the most of it. He played a game where he gave us feet and speed. He gave us puck skills and puck movement. He also did it without sacrificing defense. He had a really nice blend. That's a key.
A lot of times you bring up guys that are offensive defensemen, they give you offense, but it's at the expense of turnovers and chances against.
He really came up and walked that line. I'm sure it's probably because he's not a 22‑year‑old. He's been there before. He understands that he has to have that trust of the coaching staff. So he's been great.

Q. After Game1, sort of having the last change, do you go into Game2 thinking you will sort of try to get a matchup, get Kovalchuk away from Scuderi and Doughty? I'm assuming you would want him to be getting more than one shot.
COACH DeBOER: We played Girardi and McDonagh against the Rangers, same thing. If they're going to match those guys up, you know, in order to get him away, we're going to have to get away from a four‑line game, which has been other strength. Two, if they're matching up against Kovalchuk, then they're not matching up against Parise or other guys.
The matchup game isn't something that I'm interested in or worried about. For me, it isn't relevant.

Q. How do you balance relying on a guy like Kovalchuk and his offense versus just letting the game unfold?
COACH DeBOER: Yeah, you know, I think our identity is a four‑line team. Kovy is a piece of that, but he's not the team. I don't think that's how we're built. I don't think that's why we've had success.
You know, we're capable of surviving on nights when he doesn't score or isn't at the top of his game, just like we're capable of surviving nights that Elias or Parise or other guys aren't. I think that's the strength of our team.

Q. What do you remember about Justin Williams when he showed up on your doorstep?
COACH DeBOER: I was actually telling Lou that story. I drafted him in the sixth round at a Junior C in I believe Cobourg, Ontario, which is outside Belleville.
Kid came in and didn't make our team the first year. We put him down on the tier two team. He just kept hanging around. You could tell he was a good hockey player, but was about 150 pounds. Had a great heart. Good story.
Next year came back to camp, played for one year for me, was a first‑round pick, never saw him again. He stepped right into Philadelphia.
Great story of perseverance. Got a lot of time for Justin.

Q. Kovy, he said himself he didn't play his best game. You always talk about your best players playing their best games. Did your best players play their best?
COACH DeBOER: No. He's on a long list there. I think if you asked our group, there's a lot of guys on that list.

Q. With the Kings' success on the road, you saying the matchup game is not beneficial to you, what home‑ice advantage is there for you guys?
COACH DeBOER: Well, sure, I mean, when I say that, I'm not discounting it. We're not changing randomly, not worried about who is on the ice on the other team. We're just not going to let that dictate how we play.
So last change, it doesn't have some importance and some relevance, but the big thing is the crowd, the environment, sleeping in your own bed. All those things. I know L.A.'s record kind of I guess minimizes the sounds of that with what they've done on the road. But it's important to us.
We've been a good home team. We've played well here. I know we're going to throw a good game out there Saturday night.

Q. The best way to describe Zach might be to say 'relentless'. When you watched the tape, did you get a kick out of the third period where he kind of throws the puck in?
COACH DeBOER: I mean, that's what you have to do. L.A. bottles teams up through the neutral zone. We've got to do more of that. They stand you up, take away your time and space. You have to get it in behind them. You have to have good support. We need more of that.

Q. You seem to be really encouraging the D in your own zone to really jump up into the plays. Looking for a little bit of that four‑man offensive attack?
COACH DeBOER: Four‑man offensive attack, but also we have to be on the backside of the rush for a few reasons. One, you know, to support it if that opportunity arises. Two, if we do get the forecheck, the puck in, then our D are a big part of our forecheck, keeping pucks alive in pinches. It also leads to good gap the other way if we do turn pucks over.
There's a bunch of reasons we're pushing for that.

Q. Having played a game against Quick, having the rebound changes you did have, did you like the things you did against him?
COACH DeBOER: We've got to do more. I think we made it too easy on him. We had some opportunities. But we didn't do enough to make it tough on him.

Q. When you played the Kings, did you get a sense maybe their style matches your style so well that it's sort of what you've been doing to other teams during the playoffs?
COACH DeBOER: I think that's pretty fair to say. I think I would agree with that.
They're in front of you. There's not a lot of room. You have to work for your space. I think we did a good job of that through the playoffs. This team, you know, is as good as any as I've seen this year at that.

Q. A little off the beaten path. Can you recall the last time coaching at any level that you called for an illegal stick check?
COACH DeBOER: I actually do remember it (laughter). Mike Richards would remember it, he was my captain in Kitchener.
We had Corey Perry, who plays in Anaheim. We had all been together with the World Junior team. I had found, probably a little unethically by coaching him, that his stick was illegal at Christmas. We played London in the playoffs. I had Richy call Corey for an illegal stick. We actually got it. Didn't score in the five‑on‑three. I think London scored shorthanded and we lost the series. It backfired. Yeah, it's a funny story.

Q. Have you not called it since because it hasn't come into play?
COACH DeBOER: Didn't work. You know what, they changed the rule to make the bigger curves more legal since then. You know, you have to have a boomerang basically now in order to be called for that. So it's not even an option.

Q. Pete, you mentioned Girardi and McDonagh, how they played. Would you put those two guys in Doughty's class?
COACH DeBOER: As shut‑down defensemen, I would put those two in the class of Doughty and his partner, yes. Doughty, in an individual class, is in a class by himself. I don't think there's any doubt about that. As a shut‑down pair, you know, those two, you ask around the league in the Eastern Conference, those two are as tough a shut‑down pair as there are on this side.
Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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