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NHL STANLEY CUP FINALS: KINGS v DEVILS


June 8, 2012


Peter DeBoer


NEWARK, NEW JERSEY: Practice Day

THE MODERATOR:  Questions for Coach DeBoer.

Q.  You didn't have Travis Zajac at the start of the year.  Did you know what you were getting in him before he returned?  When he did return, was it easy to give him so much responsibility so early?
COACH DeBOER:  I did have a good idea of what we were getting, how good a player Travis was.  I had the luxury of coaching him last year in the World Championships.  He was a key guy for us over there.
Having worked with him for a month, I knew his upside, how important he would be.  I also recognized the huge hole in the loss when we found out in late August he would be missing most of the year with an Achilles.
When he came back, it didn't come easily.  He's an easy guy to hand responsibility to.  You miss eight months of hockey, we wanted to ease him in.  Then he had a reoccurrence, a setback, had to come back again.
There were a lot of hurdles through that.  When he's healthy and on, he's a pig part of our team.

Q.  Apparently during the skate Tuesday you told Henrik that he wouldn't be in the lineup, then called him later to tell him he would be in the lineup.  Did you have some sort of epiphany?  What were your impressions of him in his first game in many months?
COACH DeBOER:  I had a conversation with Henrik explaining to him on Tuesday kind of my thought process.  I knew he was ready to go.  He had made that clear.  I'd explained to him I felt that Peter Harrold and Volchenkov had done a real good job for us.  It was going to be tough to take those guys out of the lineup.
Really where I had a change of heart was just in his reaction.¬† It wasn't negative.¬† He was just adamant that he was ready, really thought he could help.¬† When a player puts his neck on the line like that, I got a real comfort level knowing he was a veteran guy and knowing how good he was at the top of his game for us as a top‑two guy, that he could help us.
Little bit of a risk.  But he basically talked me into that.  Thought he was outstanding.  Big boost for us.

Q.  Did you feel like you had your best game on the power play last game?  If so, what would you attribute that to?
COACH DeBOER:¬† We had some good looks on the power play.¬† Again, I know the numbers don't speak well.¬† I know when you're zero‑for‑whatever, everyone's calling for change, why don't you do this, why don't you do that.
The one thing about our team is we believe in what we're doing.  Most nights it's about execution.  I feel we've gotten good looks on the power play throughout the series.  It's looked bad at points, credit to L.A.  I think it's also looked real good, and we've gotten quality chances in other series, and prior series, we've stuck it in the net.  We're going to stick with it.
We're not a team that throws things out because they're not working.

Q.  You talked in L.A. about showing the players they had regained chances, things were going to happen for them.  After Game4 when there's a tangible result, does it make it easier for them to believe in what you're teaching?
COACH DeBOER:  Yeah, I think so.  I mean, I don't know about 'believe'.
We do video.  Even when we're losing, even when Lundqvist or Quick shut us out, the opportunities are there.  I think they believe that.
But there's no doubt that a win changes your mindset and relieves that pressure that you're finally getting rewarded for honest work.

Q.  Can you address what Patrik Elias means as a veteran presence for your team.  He's never gotten credit around the league for being the quality player that he is.
COACH DeBOER:  Yeah.  I mean, imagine this guy if he played in Toronto, in a center like that.  For me, he's a Hall of Fame player.  He does it all.  He's a coach in the dressing room.  He knows how to win.  He knows how to find another level at key times.
He had some struggles early in the playoffs.  But you can see, I think he's been our most consistent guy here through the finals at a key time.
There's a reason he's got multiple Stanley Cups.  You know, he has the success he has this time of year.

Q.  How tough was it for you to put a veteran Petr Sykora out of the lineup for a couple games?
COACH DeBOER:  It was tough.  He scored 20 goals for us during the year, gave us some real good minutes.
At the time we took him out, we just felt that it was a different type of series.  You know, I believe we were playing the Rangers.  Josefson had come back healthy.  He was a little younger, a little fresher, a little faster.  That's what we felt we needed.
You know, the decision to take him out wasn't as tough.  I think the tough part was how he handled it.  Like a true pro, he kept himself ready, got rewarded, gave us the type of game we needed because of the work he's done the last three weeks while he's been sitting out.

Q.  When you're in the situation you're in, how much does it help to have a goalie who is as cool and calm about everything as Marty is?  How much does this team feed off of his energy compared to other goalies that you've been around?
COACH DeBOER:  Well, 'energy...' 
I think his composure.  We feed off his composure.  He handles the puck so much.  He has so many touches.  He does it so effortlessly, without any panic in his game.  That has a real calming influence on our entire team.
There's very few moments in a game where there's anxiety when the puck's in your own end or around your net because of his composure.  With an inexperienced defense, which we've got some young guys in there, have had some young guys in at different points, it's been critical.

Q.  Is there a reason why your record is so good in games four to seven, and would you agree with Zach, that it's good coaching?
COACH DeBOER:  100% (laughter).
You know what, I don't know the answer to that.  I think we've been a team all year that's kind of dipped our toe in the pool to check the temperature where we've jumped in with both feet.  That's been one of our characteristics all year, something we've been trying to get out of.  I think that's carried over a little bit.
I also think that, as a series goes on, we recognize what's working for us and what isn't.  We try and fix those things.
The luxury we've had the other three series, you know, we haven't dropped three games in a row.¬† We've been down 2‑1 maybe, so you can get those things fixed a little quicker and you're not in the hole like we found ourselves in this round.

Q.  Did you feel that the net presence was better for your team in Game4?
COACH DeBOER:  Well, we need to get more goals like the Elias goal.  I think we've had people in those positions.  We haven't stuck them in.  That's constantly something that has to get better for us.
This guy is a great goalie.  The more people, the more bodies, the more pucks around that net, the more we're going to get we rewarded.

Q.¬† On David Clarkson, he said to us moments ago he probably wouldn't be here if it wasn't for you.¬† I'm sure it's a two‑way street.
COACH DeBOER:¬† Oh, yeah, sure.¬† Clarky is a great story.¬† Won a Memorial Cup together.¬† Again, coaches have a lot of time for guys that aren't handed anything.¬† He wasn't handed a job in junior hockey.¬† He wasn't drafted into the NHL.¬† I believe he went to Ottawa's rookie camp as a walk‑on, got cut‑‑ or Carolina's maybe.¬† Lou gave him a chance here in New Jersey.
He's a guy that's worked for everything he's gotten.  You have a lot of time for people like that.

Q.  How difficult is it to keep your players focused at the task at hand?  Human nature would be thinking of what more needs to be done.  Have you come up with a mantra or something that has helped them?
COACH DeBOER:  To focus?  I thought that question was going about the lady behind our bench last game.  I thought we were heading that way (laughter).  You saw my 100% focus on the game (smiling).  That's discipline, I'll tell you.
Our focus hasn't wavered.  I think our composure as a group, again starting with Marty.  But our guys believe.  Our guys believe we can win three or four games in a row.
We've had that, I think, from kind of the midpoint of the season on.  I don't know if there's one box I can put it in exactly why.  It's part personnel, part of the leadership in our room.  A lot of it's on our goaltender, how he plays.
They believe.  We're not done until they tell us we can't play any more.

Q.  Kovy was saying the chances that line got in Game4 were consistently pretty good as opposed to Games 1 through 3.  Do you see maybe they're closer now?
COACH DeBOER:  I think they're very close.  You just got to stick with it.  It's frustrating.  It's pressure.  I mean, you guys talk to them on a daily basis.  You write about that, the fact.  That's the pressure of playing at this point of the year.  They recognize that.
If they weren't getting chances, I'd be concerned.  They easily could have a couple goals each.  Quick is a big factor in that.  We've got to find a solution.

Q.  I wanted to ask you, Paul Maurice is taking the job in the KHL.  How do you see him making that adjustment?
COACH DeBOER:  I think that's great.  This is a guy that coached 15 years in the NHL.  Having had the opportunity to coach overseas in different events, they're great learning experiences.  You do nothing but come back a better coach any time you can broaden your horizons like that.
I think Paul is a fantastic coach.  A lot like Bob Hartley, I'm sure we'll see him back here.  It will be a bidding war for him a year or two from now in the NHL again.

Q.¬† So much written and talked about at the 0‑3 hole.¬† Now we know it's one game.¬† Having seen it happen in the last six, seven years, Yankees, Flyers, does it make it more believable?
COACH DeBOER:  Yeah, sure.  Someone said the '42 Leafs.  You know it's going to happen again.  So why not us?  I think that's the approach.  You're not going to go 200 years without someone else doing it.  So it's been long enough, it might as well be us.

Q.  Last game I think they missed the net over 20 times.  Was it a focus?  Was there a better job done of getting in lanes?
COACH DeBOER:  Yeah, they had some missed shots.  You know, I don't know the answer to that.  I liked our game.  We had some breakdowns.  They could have capitalized.  Our goalie was there.  I look at some of the games we lost, we had a bunch of missed shots and opportunities.  Resulted in losses.
Execution is what it's about this time of year.  The team that executes the best is the team that's winning these games.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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