Friday, April 18, 2003
Do I want to change my prediction?, a fellow Austin fan asked me after Game 1 of the President's Cup Finals.
Of course, I can't do that (nor will I). But I can say that if Game 2 is like the opener, the Bats will go the way of Indy. And they know it, which means it shouldn't happen.
I guess Brent Hughes gave the first wave of interviewers the standard pissed-off coach's "go ask those guys," but I managed to catch him a few minutes later, along with others from both sides. Game story at In the Crease; quotes here.
They kind of owned us in the first, we kind of owned them in the second and then the third we were just kind of protecting a good lead there.
Were you surprised how much you dominated the second, outshooting them 25-11?
Not every team plays great for 60 minutes. You can capitalize on a team maybe when they're having a lapse. That's what we did.
Does it remind you of last year?
Well, it's a long way to go. You can't compare last year. They've got some different players, especially Barnes in net. We're happy tonight and we're gonna celebrate for about another 15 minutes and then get ready for tomorrow night.
How do you mix up your line combinations and keep them on the same page?
I tell 'em, we have no lines. Our lines are whoever's being sent out there next. I like doing it that way. It's hard to defend against, it's hard to match against, especially on the road. At home I don't do it as much because I can get last change. It's a bit of a dog's breakfast but they don't mind it.
Seven wins in a row in the playoffs is pretty impressive.
Yeah, I'll tell ya, I think the Oklahoma City series, which was a good series -- two real good teams, could've went either way -- put a scare into us, and ever since that fourth game, when we were down 2-1 and could have been eliminated, we've played very well
Were you conscious at the beginning of the year that a repeating team can take longer to warm up again?
When I was in Wichita we found it a lot harder the second year to win than obviously the first year. The second year, every rink you go into they want to beat the championship team. So our record wasn't very good but also, it wasn't the way we were playing -- it was how hard other teams were playing against us. Our guys battled hard. I think there's only one or two games I can look at over the course of the schedule where we didn't play well.
Did you feel tested tonight?
Yeah, definitely. They're a good offensive team and a good all-around team. We knew they were going to come out hard and they did. We kind of weathered the storm and got a quick goal on them, which helped. Then we played great in the second period.
What's it like to share the load during the season, then know this is your time of year?
I don't know, I try not to think about it. I just like playing in the playoffs. It's a fun time of year to play hockey and you want to be playing longer than everybody else. We were kidding around last night that we outlasted the Red Wings, which is kind of cool. This is what everybody plays all year long for, and you got to be ready for it. Hopefully you can have your best games of the year during that stretch.
We didn't come out and play how we thought we'd play tonight. They capitalized on their chances and we didn't, we didn't bear down enough. It's disappointing to get to this point of the year, come out and get shut out in our own building, but it's a long series. Tomorrow is a must win for us. We got to come out and be ready to play tomorrow.
It had to be frustrating not to convert the shorthanded breakaway
Oh definitely, that would have made it 2-1 right there and I didn't score. I gotta bear down and put that in. I thought it did go in, but he squeezed it right at the line. Tomorrow, if I get a chance like that I have to score.
Obviously a surprising lack of intensity tonight
Big time. It's no one's fault but ourselves. I tried to preach for three days that we need excitement, which I didn't think would be a problem in the finals. A lot of guys didn't have any fire tonight, didn't have any enthusiasm. They certainly didn't play the way we played to beat Laredo. I think they know that. I don't know what the case is, but maybe we'll have some meetings tomorrow. I thought if we would have played our game we maybe would have been up in the first period. From our top line to our bottom line we just didn't seem like we wanted it as much as they did.
With tomorrow a must-win does the game plan change?
Yeah, we need to win tomorrow, no question about it. The game plan doesn't change because we didn't play our game plan tonight. I feel if we play our game plan the way we played against Laredo we won't have a problem. Memphis is a good team, but I think we gave them a lot of room tonight.
What did you think on the first goal -- "you gotta be kidding me?"
Exactly. I didn't let it frustrate me, I know things happen, I figured we'd tie it up somewhere along the line. We had some good chances, Smarty had the breakway but Richards made a big save when he needed to, and on the power play the guy was unconscious in net. But we can score goals, we have all year, so I'm not worried about that.
It's gotta be tough to play pretty well and give up a couple where there was not much you can do
That's the way it goes. Unfortunately tonight the bounces didn't really go the way I wanted to, the second and third I got a piece of both of them and they ended up bouncing off something and going in. I don't think we worked hard enough to get really good chances ,and as far as the goalie is concerned that's the way it goes sometimes. There's gonna be times that the guys play great and I don't play so well for them. Tonight I kept the game close but if you don't score you're not gonna win. I'm not blaming anybody by any means, I'm just simply saying tonight wasn't our night for whatever reason. We've got to work harder to get better chances.
The team's had to bounce back from one game down every playoff series
Yep. Hopefully tomorrow's no different. I don't think it will be. Again, let (tonight's game) speak for itself.