Alain Vigneault to follow.
Courtesy of the NHL:
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Coach Julien.
Q. Can you talk about Tyler’s progression, what you’ve seen from him.
COACH JULIEN: Well, I think he’s progressed well and as expected all year long.
Tyler was in maybe a different position I think than Taylor Hall, where he came to a team that obviously had a lot of veterans established. I guess his presence in our lineup wasn’t maybe as easy as it would have been in other circumstances.
But what I liked and admired about Tyler is that he wanted to be part of a winning team. He was certainly willing to pay the price and learn throughout the season. His attitude has been great. He’s definitely bought into what we’re trying to do with him, to make him a real great hockey player in the future.
I think from our end of it, there’s no doubt this guy is going to be outstanding. His skill level is so good. Right now the experience he’s gaining which will make him a better player. Obviously being 18 when he first came to us, 19 now, when you go from playing junior hockey straight to the NHL, the one thing that you realize pretty quickly is that guys are pretty strong and sturdy. He had to make that adjustment to that.
But he’s been really good, started to play with a lineup that we thought was the best lineup at the time. When the occasion came for him to step in, he did a really great job. Although he hasn’t put up a ton of points since his first two games, he’s still done a lot of good things.
He made a pass to Kelly there at the end of the first period that, had it connected, would have been a real top-end play. I thought he did a great job at back-checking, doing his job properly.
He’s becoming an all-around player. The one thing we’re not going to take away is his opportunity to produce because that’s his strength. But we certainly would like him to be as complete a player as he can.
Q. Did he have a ‘Welcome to the NHL’ moment?
COACH JULIEN: Well, the only welcome I saw from him was when we were in Prague, he scored that goal in a breakaway. To me that was a good welcome. That was a highlight goal, as well.
Q. Milan Lucic, do you need more out of him? Took a while for pucks to go in for him.
COACH JULIEN: I think we need more out of everybody. Again, we talked about last game. If we plan on winning tomorrow, that’s something that we’re going to need more out of everybody.
Milan is also capable of that. When he hits his stride, he’s on top of his game, his skating is good, his presence is good, and even his scoring chances are there.
Certainly he’s a big part of our hockey club. You rely on those guys to be as good as they can be.
Q. His hometown, are you noticing demanding or distractions affecting him?
COACH JULIEN: I think it’s a give-and-take. You have to understand that he’s in his hometown. Certainly you want to please those people to a certain extent, but at the same time you don’t want it to be a detriment to his preparation and rest and everything else.
Our media guys have done a pretty good job of balancing that out. He does a little bit of both: get the rest that he needs and does as much as he can to please the people from around here.
Q. We talked about getting traffic down in front. You pointed out it’s pointless if you aren’t going to shoot it. How important is it to get those shots through?
COACH JULIEN: Well, it is. As you know, a lot of teams now are fronting pucks. It’s not as easy as it used to be getting shots through. Guys are doing a great job of getting to the point when the puck’s up there to get in the shooting lane, and when it’s down low, the D’s are doing a pretty good job of fronting pucks as well. It’s easier said than done.
We managed 36 shots on net. That’s just a number. The scoring chances are what you have to look at. I think we can be better in regards to that.
Q. The extra day off between games, some players like it, some hate it. From a coaching perspective, what do you think?
COACH JULIEN: I think everybody likes to get into the rhythm. Obviously every second day is probably the best rhythm going.
But when you get into those situations and you have a couple of days in between games, to me it’s always the same for both teams.
I don’t think there’s a necessary edge unless somebody is really banged up and needs that extra day. We’re looking forward to tomorrow. Hopefully these two days off have made us even hungrier and ready for tomorrow.
Q. Back to Tyler Seguin again for a moment. Is there anything you can put your finger on why in the last six games he’s been held off the score sheet?
COACH JULIEN: I don’t think there’s any specific reason. There’s a lot of guys that have gone scoreless in those six games as well. As I mentioned to you earlier, he’s 19 years old. We don’t expect him to carry our team on his back.
After the first two games in Tampa, they certainly were respectful of him a lot more than they were in the first two, they realized the damage he could make. Good players have to find ways to fight through that. This is the opportunity that Tyler has to gain even more experience in regards to that.
Q. At the end of the last game you said you needed a better start from your team. What has to change to get that better start?
COACH JULIEN: I don’t think I said we needed a better start because I thought our first period was pretty good. I said they came out at us pretty hard in the first two minutes, which was normal for a home team, wanting to set the pace. I thought after those first two minutes in the first period we handled it well.
Teams always want to have a good start. If you can get that early goal, certainly helps. Teams that are here right now have been pretty good when they score the first goal. They’ve been a hard team to beat. We’re no different than they are. Obviously that plays a big role in having good starts.
Q. Can you talk about Tuukka Rusk and how he’s handled moving back into the reserve role?
COACH JULIEN: Well, I don’t think it’s been an issue because Tuukka Rask is a team guy. You hear that a lot, but he is. There hasn’t been a peep from him. He’s smart enough to realize that the guy that’s in net is having an outstanding year, in my mind, probably a Vezina Trophy winner.
I also know he would like to play, which is what I want to hear. I also know if called upon, he would be ready. When you have Tim Thomas and Tuukka Rask with him, since the beginning of the year we’ve felt really, really comfortable because we feel we have two elite goaltenders in our lineup right now.
Q. Brad Marchand, another player you seem to have trust in. What allows you to trust him in key situations?
COACH JULIEN: Well, I think it’s his competitiveness. He’s come in this year and established himself as a pretty good player. Even though he was with us at times last year, didn’t play much, but he certainly didn’t play like a rookie this year. He had that confidence. Being with us I think helped in regards to that.
But he’s a pretty reliable guy. He’ll make mistakes like everybody else. Overall, when the game is on the line, you’re going to see him go through the wall to do whatever needs to be done. That’s what I like about Brad.
He’s a very modest individual. He comes in every day and he wants to be a good team player. He’s well-respected by his teammates. That’s something that he deserves a lot of credit for. I know coming out of junior, he certainly didn’t have that reputation. I can tell you right now, he’s a totally different individual and well-respected by his teammates.
Q. Brad, the whole idea of the way he’s walked the line. Do you think the team as a whole needs to do that but in a more disciplined way in Game 2?
COACH JULIEN: I think we have to be disciplined no matter what. He’s part of that, too. Obviously the penalty he took wasn’t a good penalty last game. We know that’s happened at times with Brad with the type of game that he plays. We certainly want him to improve in that area and minimize those kind of things.
But he understands, he knows once he does it, he takes ownership for it. But at the same time I think it’s a normal thing to understand that discipline at this stage, we keep talking about it, even if we didn’t let them score in the power-play last game, they still have a potent power-play we have to make sure that our penalties are good ones and most set of times when they’re good ones, you end up killing them.
Q. Today the emphasis on the neutral zone play in practice, you obviously want to be generating more speed going into the offensive zone. Maybe that leads to higher-quality chances.
COACH JULIEN: That’s one of them. At the same time I think we’ve reviewed that at different times of the year just to bring the focus back in that area. I thought that’s what we did today. We thought it was a good time to review that.
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