What are the advantages and disadvantages of playing of playing Alaska Anchorage, a team that you just recently played? Is there anything that sticks out in your head, or does it not matter now?
"I guess I would rather have played them more recently than played them in October and have not played them in the past couple of weeks like we had. What's coming at us is a team with two pretty good goaltenders that will work their fannies off to try to use their work ethic to try to give them a chance to win."
Mike, to what degree do things change for each team as you go from one season to the next? Do you sit down and knowing that every team in this league has seen you that you make some significant changes in how you approach your game or are they just subtle nuances that maybe most people wouldn't notice?
"We really don't change the way that we approach it. Like today with practice, it's the same. Our preparation in terms of breakdown of Alaska will be the same. We'll go back to the videos and all of the things that we do, we'll do the same. However, there are the little things that we may work at, an odd face-off play here and there. I think any time that you're going to be successful, and I don't say this coming from my own experience, although I can back it up. As Pat Riley used to say in his books, when he used to coach the Lakers, that if you're going to be a championship team, you have to have the ability to adapt. That's something that I have found true over the years, that if play a team they're going to do stuff that you're going to need to adapt to. If they're stopping what you're doing, you're going to need to adapt to that. That's something that comes down to the ability of your players. That's something that this group here is untested a little bit. I know that Jerry York talks about having tournament-tested players. He uses that term. I think that sometimes when you're under the gun in a tournament, you go through these types of things where you have to adapt as you're going along. The teams that do that, often times are the teams that win. So that's an area that we will find out on whether it will be a good weekend."
At this point in the season, what do you deem as a success? Is it getting out of this first round? Do you take it a series at a time? Do you have a set goal as to how far you would like or expect this team to go from here on out?
"I think that we've said for the past month that this team keeps getting better. I don't want to set the bar at any level because they may go past any expectations we set, so I don't want to limit them. I think the one thing that has been fun about watching this group grow is the fact that they keep forwarding themselves into a good team and where they will continue to grow. Let's not put a lid on that. Let's let them go where they take us. And so we will continue to work at getting better here and play each series as it comes. The fun thing is I don't think we've played our best yet. That's because the personality of this team is to keep getting better every week."
Mike, you've talked all season about the one-goal games and the tight games, how that experience is helping this team. Does that not translate, given what you said earlier, that while it helps that this team isn't tournament-tested that there is an unknown out there about how they're going to react?
"It's another level and what we hope for is the fact that being in so many one-goal games will make them feel more comfortable. It's funny listening to them talk between periods. It's like, ‘Hey boys, we've been here before. We know what to do. Let's get it done.' Because we've experienced it this year, we can rely on it to a degree."
Would you expect to see the Alaska Anchorage team you saw on Saturday as opposed to Friday when you were up there?
"That's the game we chose to watch to review. They came out in that game and were the team that we had watched when they played against (Minnesota) in Minneapolis. They'll play with great energy; it's the strength of their team, along with their goaltending. I don't think there will be any question as to what team we'll see, and we know how we can play."