The coach was pretty good this afternoon, talking about where his team is after 28 games.
Those quotes will follow.
Same lineup against Ottawa for the 5 p.m. start. Lundqvist in goal.
Denis Potvin is in the building; I believe he’s working for the Senators now.
More in a few …
On the (relative) improvement at home lately:
“Last game we played good defense. We have up seven or eight scoring chances. But someone asked me the other night why the home (record)? I don’t know why. We’re trying to play our game and so I’m not going to get too deep into it. We’re just going to keep banging away at it and try to be consistent.”
Comparison of team concept this year from last:
“I think when you’re with one another, longer now, for a year, I think during the year last year we changed a little bit of our team concept because I just don’t think we were able to play a certain way. I think this year, I think it’s maturity of some of our kids, an addition or two, a subtraction of a couple, and as I said right during camp, you just felt more comfortable with the team, that we were more together.
“And I think that’s important when you go through the grind of the season. There’s going to be ups and downs, but I just like the team. I like its attitude and I think they’re believing they know how to win games different ways, so that’s what we’re trying to do.”
On getting the organization to a point where it competes, regularly, (for championships, though that word was smartly left unsaid):
“I don’t know. Right now I think, and I said it at the beginning of the year before the season — I thought we had a great summer because we kept our kids. And we stayed with them. And the foundation of our youth, and really the foundation of our team is our youth. I think along the way, when it’s right, there are some positions we need to fill. We do need, I think we do need, a top center as we go through here. And as you go through the year you find out what you are as a team, and you see what you need on the back end maybe. A left-hand shot. … but to give you a timetable, it’s hard for me, and I don’t think it’s even right for me. I think that’s an organizational point of view, and that’s why we have our meetings as we go through.
“I like the track that we’re on here as a club, because the maturity of our players, of our young players who have come through our system, I think that’s the way we have to do it, with our people. And continue to build, and then you add a piece here or there when something comes available.”
On whether the end of last year helped going into this year:
“I don’t know. You know, at the end of the year, it was one of those situations where if you lose a couple of games you’re done, when we played those last 10-12 games there. And it almost gives you, it may sound weird, it almost gives you a little bit of looseness as far as where you are in your season, and you’re just going to let it all hang out. I think that helped us towards the end of last year. I just think at the beginning of this year, the way they came into camp, they knew what the camp was going to be; they were familiar with it. It just seemed, everybody seemed to come together and understand that we have to do it as a group. And that’s why, in the games that we have won here, we’ve played good as a team.
“And when you have some injuries like we had at the beginning of the year, it forces you to even come together more as a team, and that’s healthy because when you lose a couple of people like we did — important guys, our top two scorers — it forces you to come in and helps you build a team concept of tightness. Then when they start coming back in, they’re going to add some creativity, they’re going to add some scoring. But they have to join in, too, with the group.
“I think that’s what happened with our club in the short time here. Again, we’ve got a long way to go, and a lot of things we need to improve on. But they have found their way here in at least finding different ways to win some hockey games.”
On the need for a left-shooting defenseman:
“I was worried about it a lot more in Games 5, 6, 7 or whatever it was. But I think MIchael Sauer has been a big surprise. We felt he was going to push. We wanted to see him and give him a long look, but he has stepped in and continues to improve. Eminger’s a guy, a right-hand shot that I thought struggled early on .. and we had him on the left side and it really wasn’t fair to him. But he’s found a way to improve himself. And it’s a pretty good pair. I don’t want to jinx them, but they’ve played pretty well. They’ve developed into a pair of pretty good defensemen and the thing I like most about them, and what we were hoping to get more of, was a little edge in our back-end, too. Now you see Marc Staal with a little more edge, and I think it kind of grows. And I think Michael Sauer and Emmy have brought that to us with very consistent play — not flamboyant, but consistent.”
On the need for a center, or if they have that guy on the roster:
“We have some centers in Artie and Erik and Stepan, who has 16 points now as a young guy. What I’m saying is you’re always looking to improve your club. If you’re not looking to improve your club as you go along the way, you’re going to fall by … if the right person’s there. But what you have here is people, I don’t think there’s one head-over-shoulders above the other. But Erik has contributed here the past few games. Step has contributed. Artie did early, struggles a little bit, played very well the other night. So you do it by committee there.
“Brian Boyle — what does he have 11 goals now? Although he shouldn’t have been on the ice for 1:35 at the end of the game to score that empty-netter. But he’s contributed. So you do it by committee. It’s our team. And I like the team. I just like the way they’re scrapping and trying to be better as a team.”
About the improvement of the “room,” something he insisted had to happen at the end of last season:
“Yeah, and I try to stay out of there as much as I can. But I check in with the leadership group. With Dru down, and not in the room in certain situations because he’s just not playing, it gives a great opportunity for Marc Staal to accept some responsibility as a leader, Ryan Callahan, and you know Dubi doesn’t want to be left behind, Danny Girardi. These are young guys, so I’m not sure how it all translates and when it all comes together and when you’re there and you’re an upper-echelon team. But it’s certainly going in the right direction with our foundation.”
He was asked by an Ottawa reporter about Wade Redden’s play in Hartford.
He politely said he wasn’t keeping on top of the situation because the Rangers have had so many games lately.