Monday Press Conference: Mike Eaves

Wisconsin men's hockey coach Mike Eaves spoke with the media Monday afternoon

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Mike, what are your plans for lines with Rene (Bourque), are you going to get him back to health with some funk, shift him up again, experiment a bit more?

"Well, we'll probably experiment a couple times this week. We'll mix it up today. We're going to have him with …like today we'll put him with Mr. (Nick) Licari on the left side and Mr. (Jake) Dowell in the middle and put Rene (Bourque) on the right, put him with a left end and center and maybe he'll get the puck a little bit more. Then tomorrow we've got a couple of other combinations up our sleeve that we need to try. Obviously we've got pretty good chemistry with the junior line and now we need to increase our production out of Rene a little bit. I thought he worked really hard; he had a couple of chances, but not consistently enough. So we need to work at that."

Overall, how would you grade your first weekend of play?

"Overall it was pretty good in some areas and it was below what we had hoped for in others. I think our energy level, I mean you could tell the kids felt great after the Saturday night game, they weren't fatigued. The breakdowns of the game were young mistakes that led to goals. If you look at the scoring chances in that second game they were pretty even. The shots were pretty even. The opportunities they had, we had huge holes in our plays. We talk about Saturday night and they capitalized on those areas. So it's pretty typical for having 18 underclassmen in your lineup. We made some mistakes and all of those mistakes were not the underclassmen, some of our veterans made mistakes as well. But I think overall, if you saw the games you would say ‘Boy they're a little different looking team this year.' There's a little bit more skill, the tempo was there. So there are good things that we hoped would be there and we can build on this week."

You mentioned some glaring holes and the other teams taking advantage of them. What do you see as the biggest thing this team needs to work on to improve now, especially as you get set to launch into the WCHA play?

"Well for sure our penalty killing. We allowed three goals on Saturday night. We were there but we were not really doing their job. So we need to hone that up. But the way they're calling the game, it always happens in the beginning of the year, the power play and penalty killing become big parts of the game. So we're going to have to pick that up in those two areas. Our power play is going to have to produce more. And actually we had some scoring chances, we have to bury them. And then penalty killing, we put ourselves in positions where we didn't do what we were asked. So we need to shore that up. We had a lot of young kids killing (penalties) too. So week by week we talked about making baby steps, but we've got to make some big leaps here in order to catch up."

How much scouting were you able to do on the teams last week, and I assume it might be a little bit more this week with the WCHA team?

"Minimum. I mean really our scouting for Maine was the game before. We got to see them the night before and put a little scouting report together. Even with St. Cloud coming up this weekend, they played St. Claire college, which is a two-year community college in Windsor, Ontario and there wasn't a game there, so we're going to have to go off a little bit of what we saw last year and speculate a little bit. And that makes it interesting sometimes when you play these types of games, you've got to adjust while you're running. And we'll have to make some adjustments as we go."

As you mentioned how many young guys you have, a lot of young guys killing penalties and different things, how long then will it take before we can truly evaluate how good or what the potential of this team is this season because you have so many new faces?

"Well, we said last year and I think it holds true, that once you get to Christmas, you have a better idea of what you have. And that's the reality of it, because the first half of the season … fortunately for us we've got four guys that have played college games last year and in the national program they played 20 games, so you would think by Christmas time they've already got a year under their belt. But for the other kids, they don't have as many games at the college level so you're going to have to buy them some time in there, and hopefully some of our veterans can help them along."

Would you consider Andrew (Joudrey) a scorer or a playmaker or both?

"I think his assets lie with his ability to see the ice and the hockey term is "dish", pass the puck. He has the ability to see people and get the puck there. I think he thinks of himself as a disher. But one of the things that we've already begun to talk to Andrew (Joudrey) about at this level and at the higher level is you have to take what's given. You don't want to become a one-dimensional player so that they're going to just take away your options and you're going to be left alone there in front of the net, and what are you going to do? Pass? You have to be able to put the puck away yourself. And he demonstrated on his goal on Friday night, he's got a nice quick stick, he made a great shot. So I think that's part of getting through to Andrew (Joudrey) that he should take what's given and become more of a producer of goals."

Do you wish that you had more time before you launched into conference play because the season is so longer that you should have more non-conference games or tournaments to kind of get a better experience?

"Absolutely without question. One of the things we talk about as college hockey coaches is the fact that you don't see basketball and football having nine practices and a couple of games and then starting the Big Ten season do you? For whatever reason, this is the way it is in hockey. All of the teams are primarily in the same boat so I'm not whining. It's just the way it is. I'd like to see a change though. (media inaudible) Not in my lifetime, but hopefully it will."

Have they toyed with the idea of a certain start date for everybody?

"Well they have now. Next year it has become implemented that everybody will start Oct. 2 of next year. So I still don't know if that's going to give us enough time to truly do what we want. Everybody wants to have the same start date. Everybody will truly be in the same start boat. But in terms of having the proper preparation that we as coaches feel, I don't know if that will ever change."

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