Monday press conference: Mike Eaves

Men's hockey coach discussed Brian Elliott, Joe Pavelski, instant replay, shootouts and more

Audio file 1 (3:08) –

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What was the experience like down on the Packer sidelines yesterday? And what did you or your coaching staff learn from going through that experience?

"It was just a terrific experience. It was, we were talking about it this morning, in fact. It was like being on our bench during a game. You were part of the play. You were part of the preparation and the, it was intense down there. When we had these cords that we were trying to keep from the assistant coaches tripping on and running around, we were like their shadow.

"I mean, I was on the field, was six feet away when Ahman Green got hurt, and, oh, my gosh, it was, but it was interesting from the standpoint, we talked on the way home, listening to the players talk to their coach and how in tune they were with what was going on on the field, the feedback they were giving their coaches to prepare for the next time they went on the field.

"I mean, it's the top level and those players are there because of a combination of reasons. They're physically gifted, but to get to that level you have to have more than that. I mean, they were very intelligent football players. You talk about hockey IQ and football intelligence, they had it going for them. It was a terrific experience."

Did you offer up any play suggestions or anything to any of the coaches?

"I just kept my mouth shut and tried not to get in the way. (Antonio) Chatman stepped on my foot, damn near crushed my big toe, so . . ."

Instant replay is supposed to be in the works starting this weekend. You're a proponent, correct?

"Yes, absolutely. Well, last year with DU and CC having it, it proved to be an advantageous thing just because of the fact that you're getting the right calls. So now that everybody in the league will have it, I think it'll just, it'll make the calls that go on the ice, in important situations they'll make the right calls, so I'm excited for it for the whole league."

Mike, at least to this point Brian Elliott seems to be a guy who seems to be a pretty level-headed kid. Nice, the whole deal. In other words, he's not what you'd expect from a goaltender. Is he the prototypical guy who thinks too much, who prepares too much, that type of thing, goaltenders being odd in that sense?

"Well, I think the stereotype of goaltenders is they are off the map a little bit, they were flaky. I think Brian is just the other way in terms of, as you mentioned, he can prepare a little bit too much and he's trying to find that balance between not leaving his game in the locker room or in warm-up and having it during the course of a game.

"I think that was the greatest lesson he pulled out of last year, was the Michigan State game, where he was on fire in warm-up and, you know, couldn't stop a beach ball in the game. He was off balance and such. And I think that was the lesson he took from there. He's been building on that. So his virtue can be his vice if he allows it to. He has to, like all players, find that ideal performance state."

Audio file 2 (3:35) –

Mike I believe six of your next eight league games are at home. Can you talk about the importance of, as you said before, putting hay in the barn early in the season as far as WCHA points and getting yourself some of those early in the season when you do play at home as opposed to February when you don't?

"Well, it's pretty much been our course of scheduling here for the last couple of years so we're used to it. And we just have to control the things we can control. And, you know, as football tries to go 1-0 every weekend, we try to go 2-0. And we want to win every game, but if you look at the big picture, it is important to put those points in the barn early."

Is Joe Pavelski 100 percent healthy?

"I think so, yeah. You know, I think the way he played on Saturday, he, whether he was tentative or because he didn't practice next week or last week when he had that lower body injury, but he pressed himself on Saturday out of his wanting to help his team win. And I think he's, he played as well as, that whole line played well. I mean, if you're going to be a good player at this level, you have to rely on the people you play with and they were pretty fun to watch."

Does that line have to score each and every game for you to be successful?

"Oh, they'll make it easier for us, but, you know, the night before, you know, like Coach (Alvarez) was just saying how right now his team on Saturday, you know, they haven't had a game where all aspects have been firing, and it's no different. If we have all our lines firing, we can be as good as anybody and make the games easier to win if we score. And I think we'll get to that point.

"We're still only four games in. We still feel that we have potential to put pucks away. And if you take a look at one aspect of our game, and that's the power play, the percentage is low, but, I mean, we did exactly what we wanted to do in terms of getting shots. And it's just a matter of time before that rhythm kicks in."

Mike, I know you maybe haven't been a proponent of shootouts in the past. Seeing as how the NHL has gone to that. I know they are in a different situation where they had to try to win fans back and try and give them something a little extra. Has that changed your mind at all on the subject and do you think there will come a time where maybe we'll see that in college?

"I guess, we've talked about that as a staff and a little bit as a coaching body, and I think the fact remains how does that affect RPI. And until they figure that type of reasoning or how to get around that, I don't think we'll see it in the college game."

Obviously you're happy with a win, but defensively you really shut down St. Cloud on Saturday as opposed to Friday. Defense is your bread and butter, but you had to be pleased with what your defensive unit did.

"Well, it's interesting because the fact is because of increased effort by our forwards, not just our defensive people, we were better forechecking, keeping the puck in the offensive zone. That's why they didn't have a great number of shots. So it was just raising our whole level all over the ice that allowed us to only allow 15 shots against and then probably out-chance them 2-to-1. So it was just a level of play by everybody that allowed that to happen."

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