From the NHL:
An interview with:
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Todd, you talked about your team being sluggish and so forth. Yesterday you had a good skate. Did you sense a different energy level?
COACH McLELLAN: I do. I think yesterday helped us a little bit. We dealt with the mental part of the game yesterday, some video. Today it was important for us to get back out on the ice and get our legs going. We had some tempo in practice. Doesn’t guarantee tomorrow we’ll skate any better, but it’s a step in the right direction.
Q. How much stronger do you have to be in all areas?
COACH McLELLAN: A lot of areas. We have to be better all over the ice. Mental strength and physical strength. You have to put yourself in a position to be successful, then when you’re there, you got to get the job done physically. It starts in the circle, ends up in the corners, net front. Even skating to open ice to me is a physical battle because you have to win that race, you have to get there before the other team does.
At this time of the year, you always hear us talk, the team that loses says, We’ve got to be better, work harder. It’s not this much, it’s only that much. We’ve got to convince the players of that. We’re not asking you to be 10 or 15% better, we’re asking you to be 1% better. Sometimes that’s all you need.
Q. Does that mean it’s going to be skill or (indiscernible)?
COACH McLELLAN: Both. You can have all the skill in the world. If you’re not prepared or committed to doing it as much as the other team, eventually they’ll win out. Once that skill decides it’s going to compete hard, again, it doesn’t guarantee you a win, but it gives you a better chance.
Q. I don’t mean this to be a negative thing, but when a coach says, We have to convince the players, do you surprise yourself?
COACH McLELLAN: Not at all. That’s actually a really good question. My point there is the convincing of the players is sometimes the players think the gap is huge for whatever reason. If I talk to Devin Setoguchi, for example, and pull him in and ask him to do a few things better, it’s not a big gap. He’s done it before. It’s just a small gap that he has to close.
That’s what I mean by convincing them. Getting them to understand that they’re not going to be asked to do something they haven’t done before. They’re only going to do what they’re doing and do it better and longer, if that makes any sense at all.
Q. Do you have the sense that you saw Vancouver at its best the other night?
COACH McLELLAN: I think they can ratchet up their game. I’m sure they’ll tell you that. Good luck trying to find a coach that will tell you that they were at their best one game into the conference final.
So I’m sure they’re going to tell you they can be better, and I believe they can, too. We haven’t seen their best yet.
Q. Because Joe has established a reputation as being a clutch performer, when he goes into offensive lows, is he almost like a victim of his own success?
COACH McLELLAN: Pavelski?
COACH McLELLAN: Joe has risen to the occasion two years in a row and scored huge goals for us in the playoffs. He’s earned that reputation, ‘Little Joe’ in San Jose he’s known as. For us to have success and move forward, he’s going to have to shine in that area a little bit more. He plays so many big minutes, power-play, penalty kill, on the point.
He’ll find his moments, his time in this series. He’ll have to. Collectively those three have to be better on that line.
Q. (Question regarding Ryane Clowe.)
COACH McLELLAN: Two areas: locker room, leadership, accountability, real strong work ethic there. He has the ability to hold some of the larger players, the bigger players, the Thorntons and Marleaus, accountable. So that’s a very powerful thing.
On the ice, he’s a very big man. He’s got very good hands for a big man. He protects pucks very well. He has vision in a crowd. He can chip pucks in and out of a crowded area and create offense off of it. He’s very tough.
This is the time of year that his skills and his assets should shine.
Q. Looking at the film from Game 1, talking to your players, seeing how they practiced today, do you get a sense you’re going to see what you need to see from your team tomorrow night?
COACH McLELLAN: Absolutely. I believe we will. Again, that doesn’t guarantee that it’s going to happen. But we’ve massaged the mind. We’ve held them accountable. We’ve tried to help them. I talked to some of the skaters on the ice obviously today as they were roaming around. They all felt pretty good, refreshed. I expect us to be immensely better.
As somebody else asked, the blue team will be better, too.
Q. When you talk about areas you need to be better, you said ‘a lot,’ do you look at discipline?
COACH McLELLAN: I didn’t think we were really undisciplined. In some of the penalty situations, Heater got his arm up a little high on Torres. A couple of the others were penalties that happened in plays. We weren’t running around and playing outside that realistic zone that we have set for ourselves. We didn’t wander, get frustrated, start whacking, hacking and slashing. I’m not sure discipline as far as taking penalties was a big issue.
Q. Do you like Thornton against Kesler?
COACH McLELLAN: I don’t mind it at all. Thornton just played against Datsyuk and Zetterberg. Ryan is up there with those two and he’s fine.
Q. Big Joe in his career doesn’t have the clutch reputation. He’s been good the last couple years. Do you think he has an unfair label now?
COACH McLELLAN: I spoke to you people before. I said I only have a chance to know Joe in the last three years and he’s come a long way. He’s a team first guy. Whatever his reputation was in the past, whether it was not so good or average, I don’t see it that way. I only know him in the past three years, and I think his game’s improved. I think he’s a world-class player at a world-class time.
Q. You have a lot of Canadians on this team. Is that totally irrelevant in this series or is there a dynamic there?
COACH McLELLAN: I don’t think there’s much relevance in it right now. If we’re getting that deep to where we’re starting to determine the nationalities, that will be for our drafting team when they go to the draft in Minnesota, I guess. I don’t think there’s that much relevance in it.
There’s some tremendous physical Canadian players involved in this series, there’s tremendous skilled, physical European players that are involved in this series as well. I don’t think it has anything to do with nationality.
Q. (No microphone.)
COACH McLELLAN: That line collectively, we talked about the Pavelski line earlier, Heatley, Clowe and Couture have to be better. They weren’t near as effective as we expected them to be. They have to be better. Clowe is a big part of it.
Q. Is there one area that was glaring to you that went wrong?
COACH McLELLAN: No. I actually talked to our team today. We’ve given up some leads. We’ve played in 10 one-goal games in the playoffs. We’ve won seven of them. Five in overtime. We’ve come back from a 4-0 deficit, a 3-0 deficit. So if we want to focus on giving up a 2-1 lead in the period on a power-play, we can. We choose to look at the other way, where we’re effective in a 60- or 80-minute game.
Q. Kesler said a half hour ago that Thornton asked him to drop the gloves on the opening faceoff. Were you aware of that? What is your reaction?
COACH McLELLAN: That’s between two players on the ice. That’s where it stays.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
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