An interview with:
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. Advice for the team?
COACH McLELLAN: Bring it!
Q. Is there a chance Demers plays tonight?
COACH McLELLAN: We’re still contemplating that. There is a chance.
Q. How did Joe look to you and how important is it for him to be on the ice?
COACH McLELLAN: Well, he looked real good out there. He will be on the ice. He’s played extremely well in the playoffs. He’s our leader.
I think we’re going a little overboard as far as him being injured. So I’ll leave it at that.
Q. What do you need out of Niemi starting tonight, even leaving last game aside?
COACH McLELLAN: Well, Niemo is a very important part, as goaltending is, in the playoffs. I think if you’re watching, we’re all watching both series, even prior to, a key save, a timely save, you know, a go-to save, if you will, really makes a difference, calms the team down, settles everybody in. We’ll be looking for that from Niemo. I’m sure he will deliver.
Q. Do you think your team’s best hockey has yet to be played in this series?
COACH McLELLAN: Perhaps. That’s a pretty good question. You know what, I think it is. I think Game 3 we showed signs of a team that we can be and that we are. In a lot of the situations, and you have to give Vancouver full marks, they’re playing extremely well, but we’ve also beat ourselves in the three losses in many different ways, uncharacteristic ways.
Situations that we should be able to handle and we have handled I keep telling them since Mannheim, because we played a team over in Germany, and we let it get away on us here.
Full marks to Vancouver. I’m not dismissing their level of play. They’ve been very good.
Q. Are you getting to the point soon where you’re going to go to the guys that you trust more with the season on the line?
COACH McLELLAN: You know what, I’m at that point already. You can see how we play certain individuals down the stretch in games in different scenarios. We’re at that point. We’re in the playoffs. We’re in the final four. We talk about Jumbo, how much we’re making a big story out of him playing, how much we trust him and others.
But you can’t just win with a handful of players. I do trust all of our guys in certain situations. That’s very important that players know that. Given an exorbitant amount of minutes, you have to find a way to produce. Given a minute amount of minutes, you have to find a way to produce.
You look at our fourth line, they’ve done a really good job, in my opinion, over the last couple games. They’ve been big factors, provided us some energy. We’ve got that. We’ve got some of our top-end guys. It’s that middle tier that needs to show up and get it done for us.
Q. At this time of year when you’ve got some guys in your room who you’re just not getting it from, does the head coach have one-on-one meetings at this time of year or is it up to the team and the guys to be directed by their teammates?
COACH McLELLAN: I’m going to use Mannheim with you guys. We had one-on-one meetings in Mannheim, throughout exhibition season, and now. It’s pretty clear, it’s drawn out, what our expectations are of individuals and then collectively what they are for lines and pairs. Guys have to play to that.
We have some players that are under-performing, some players that have to perform better. All teams at this point do. All four teams that are left have them. It’s just who has the fewest. The ones that under-achieve the shortest amount of time, you can’t be perfect, no such thing as a perfect player or perfect game, you’re going to make mistakes. It’s just we’ve got to minimize it, shrink it up a little bit.
Q. Facing an elimination game, does each shift change each hit, each great goal intensify the momentum? Being an elimination game, let things get out of hand quicker. Do you know what I mean?
COACH McLELLAN: When you say ‘out of hand,’ I’m not sure what you mean.
Q. Each momentum becomes that much more exaggerating, influencing the way the game continues.
COACH McLELLAN: Perhaps. There’s dramatic momentum changes in a lot of games during the playoffs. We saw it again last night. There will be tonight.
We have to handle it when it works positively for us and we have to be prepared to respond if it works negatively against us.
There will be momentum changes, it’s inevitable. We have to react appropriately.
Q. (No microphone.)
COACH McLELLAN: I don’t believe so. They gave you the same 60 minutes to work with. You’ve got to use all of them. If you plan on using only 58 of them, you’re probably going to be in trouble.
Q. What would you like Devin Setoguchi to capture when he’s been at his best?
COACH McLELLAN: What would I, like, Devin?
Q. Refer to in terms of what he has done well?
COACH McLELLAN: Devin is at his best when he puts himself in position to shoot the puck. Power-play is a prime example of that. He can be a significant factor positively as far as offense goes there. He can become a very good forechecker when he’s moving his feet, he’s active, stays around the puck.
Devin Setoguchi, among others, know the ingredients they have to bring to be successful. It’s not like we’re asking them to do something they haven’t done in the past.
Q. When any team trails 3-1, not many on the outside give them a chance. Can you use that to take some of the pressure off your guys?
COACH McLELLAN: Perhaps we can just lay it on the line, go out and play. We know there’s only two options: play on or move on. We’re aware of that. We can go out, lay it all on the line. We expect to do that. We want to empty the tank here, not worry about what happens after that.
Plus past experiences. We were here two weeks ago with Detroit. On the other side of the coin, when we were the 3-1 team, you could tell that Detroit’s goal was to bring it back to Detroit. They believed they could win Game 6 there. They were hanging their hat on it and they did it. All of a sudden the pressure turned.
It’s about us having a good, honest effort tonight. We’ll worry about Game 6 if we get there.
Q. The situation at hand, does it make your message to the players tonight more simple to give to them because of the circumstances?
COACH McLELLAN: No. It will be the same message. We’ll try to prepare them for any small adjustments we have. We’ll stress certain parts of our game. They’re pretty intelligent guys in there, believe it or not. They are. They know what’s ahead of them. They need to take advantage of it. They’ll be ready.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports
An interview with:
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Alain, you talked about yesterday how today the players can talk about maybe moving on. How do you make sure their focus is in the right spot?
COACH VIGNEAULT: By giving them a precise plan with precise things to focus on. Our guys are a mature group. They know it’s going to be a real tough game. We’re just going to do what we’ve been doing all year long: focus on our process, focus on our game, go out there and play real hard.
Q. Sports psychologists always talk about envisioning the moment. Do you allow your players to think that way, what it will lead to?
COACH VIGNEAULT: When I think our guys need to be in the moment, like I just said, need to focus on what they need to do on the ice. That’s the most important thing. That’s how you’re going to get your best game on the ice.
If you do that, you give yourself a chance to win. That’s what we want to do tonight, we want to give ourselves a chance to win.
Q. I know a coach says, We take care of our business. When you have a desperate hockey team and they have to throw something else at you, what are the kinds of things you tap the guys on the shoulder and say, They’re going to give you a bit more of this or that. What are you expecting?
COACH VIGNEAULT: You can’t control the opposition, but you can control how you play, your energy level, your intensity on the ice. That’s what we’re going to do.
San Jose we know is a great hockey team. They’ve got different weapons that obviously they’ve tried to put on the ice. They’re going to continue to put those weapons on the ice.
But at the end of the day we’re going to focus on us, focus on what we do best, try to play fast out there, and hopefully it will be good for us tonight.
Q. Maybe the best aspects of the Sharks’ play this series has been their starts. How important is it that you have the better start in an elimination game this evening?
COACH VIGNEAULT: You know, we’re going to play in front of our fans. I think there’s going to be a lot of energy, a lot of excitement in this building. For the most part throughout the year, we’ve been a team that has started real well, if you look at our stats.
But it all means nothing. Tonight is another game. We’re going to give it our best shot.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports