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David Quinn on the top line, young centers, Kreider, Lemieux and more

David Quinn met with the media on Friday and said the following (MSG):

  • Do you agree that playoffs are a goal, “couldn’t agree more, it’s definitely something we want to accomplish. The moves we made over the summer are just a continuation of what we have been doing over the last 16-17 months. Within the walls of the locker room and this building we feel good about the direction we are going in just going to continue to work at getting better daily. It might be a little redundant but it’s the truth. Certainly the goals are to make the playoffs, we want to make the playoffs.”
  • How do you balance wanting the playoffs and developing players, “that is a piece of it that is part of our equation. We are certainly young at some key positions but we feel that the guys coming back in their second full year with us have done everything we have asked them to do away from the rink, they look in better shape, a bit older, more mature and we just want to build on the progress they made last year.”
  • What do you as a coach want to build on, “two things from a team stand point we have to do a much better job in is D-zone coverage and penalty killing. We are not going to have a chance to accomplish what we want to accomplish if we don’t do a better job in our own end and do a better job on the PK. From our end of it, there is going to be more familiarity with our players. No matter what level you take a first time job at, there is a learning curve and a feeling out process and we went through that last year as a staff and I think we will be in a much better position because we have familiarity between the players and coaches.”
  • Do you not expect to do more correction on effort, “The hope is that the veterans, which I know they will, understand what is expected of them. One of the things I really liked last year was the connection between the coaches and players and the buy in. I think our veterans know how we want to play and what is expected on a daily basis and instead of us setting that precedent, I think that their effort and if they see someone doing what they are not supposed to be doing, they will take it upon themselves to correct it as opposed to us correcting it.”
  • How does Panarin impact you as a coach, “I thought we had a little bit of that the last 3-4 week stretch before the trade deadline when Zucc, Mika and Kreider were as good a line as there was in the NHL and having Panarin from the get-go gives us that true first line. I thought we evolved as the season went on but to have a line like that, it lessens the load for the other three lines and they take a lot of pressure off and we hope they take pressure off of some of our young players that are being put in key positions. We have talked about what type of player he is and how dynamic a player he is and what he can do for our team, to have that opportunity to have a line like that from the get-go will put us in a better position.”
  • Who will be with Panarin and Mika, “We are in the process, that is what training camp is for and we have some ideas but that is one thing that is unique about our team, there are some moving pieces and players that will have opportunities to solidify their roles but right now it’s going to be Buchnevich with Mika and Panarin to start. Buchie had a real good last two months of the season and we want to build off how his season ended and I think he deserves that opportunity.”
  • On that top line making the other lines better, “it gives us depth throughout the lineup and you look at the teams that have been successful in the playoffs, from top to bottom you have to be deep and roll four lines to a degree. Those guys have to contribute and having a player like Panarin and that top line lengthens your lineup.”
  • On where he wants the young players to start, “I’d like to give these guys some stability and put them in a position but if you look at the league, when you have high-end players and they enter the league, most of them are centers but a lot are asked to play the wing early in their career and then they learn to play the middle because it’s such a demanding position. That being said, I want to see Fil Chytil in the middle, I want to give him a full opportunity to use his skating and his ability. He looks different this year, he just turned 20.”
  • How does Chytil look different, “he looks more mature, more confident. There was an awful lot going on for him last year and he’s just carrying himself differently. I think he thinks that he belongs and if you are going to be a great player in this league you have to have some swagger and I think that with a lot of 19-year olds in this league there is some trepidation and uncertainty and I think he is over that.”
  • On Trouba, “this is a guy who has had a lot of success at this level, PP, PK, 5 on 5, he has done an awful lot in different situations so just having him in the lineup, it makes every other defenseman a little bit better. You aren’t asking defensemen to do things that they may not be able to handle consistently and I think he will put our defensemen in a better position night in and night out to use their strengths to their advantage.”
  • On Kakko and Kravtsov needing to earn spots, “for sure, they need to earn it. Both of them have a great pedigree and have played pro hockey so they may have a leg up on your normal rookie but you need to find out what they are capable of doing against men day in and out and I think they have to earn that opportunity. Maybe in 10-days I feel differently about them but you don’t want to ask them to do too much or put too much pressure on them, you want to give them an opportunity to have success and work their way up.”
  • On Henrik Lundqvist this season, “you look across the league and it has shied away from one guy playing 65-70 games. You look at his last two-years and he has had two great first halves and then a dip and we want to avoid that. We want him to have a great season so that if we make the playoffs he is fresh and coming off a stretch of great hockey and can carry us to another level. As you get older in your career, I think everyone has to make adjustments. He is a smart guy and aware of it.”
  • On trying to develop players, “we went through it last year. I’m big on intentions. Mistakes are going to happen but what are your intentions? To me, if you play with the right intentions a lot less mistakes are going to happen. If we can get everyone to play with the right intentions the transition for these young players. That is a message we will send from day one, the good news is that a lot of the guys are second year players and they have heard us and what our demands are and what our expectations are and I think it will help with the rookies and guys here for the first time and it can help send that message with a different voice than ours.”
  • On the plan without DeAngelo, “Morrow is here, other guys are capable of playing the right side. We have plenty of defensemen we have confidence in and there eill be competition for that position
  • Do you have an opinion on DeAngelo, “I’m going to talk about the guys that are here. I’ll do a Belichick on you.”
  • How excited are you to get going, “I think excitement is the right word. What we did over the summer is a continuation of what we have been doing. It might be bigger names and bigger splashes but it’s two young players in this league that have had a lot of success and will be here for the long haul. I think that sometimes when you make a free agent signing people look at is as a quick fix and that certainly wasn’t the case with Panarin and trading for Trouba was not a quick fix. It’s about two guys that are pieces of the puzzle as we strive to be a Cup contender year in and out.”
  • Does Chytil have a leg up on being the number two center, “I wouldn’t say leg up but he has a great opportunity.”
  • On Igor Shesterkin, “we are anxious to see him play over here consistently. He played in Traverse City and really liked what he did in the second game. It is different when you play on a smaller sheet, the angles are different. He’s going to have to get used to the pace at this level but he has a ton of talent and is someone we are incredible high on.”
  • On where Shesterkin will play, “his play will determine it.”
  • On Traverse City, “it was fun for us because a lot of us haven’t seen them at this level. They get drafted and you hear about them but it’s nice to see them actually get out there and compete against other team’s rookies. We feel good about our depth and our draft picks.”
  • Does Lias start in the middle or wing, “in the middle.”
  • On Kaapo Kakko, “he’s had a lot of attention and for good reason, he has had success against pros. The expectations are high and they should be high but there is a learning curve, he’s 19-years old and it might take some time for him to get acclimated to the NHL style of play. For sure you want to temper expectations and keep it all in check and keep expectations realistic.”
  • On Adam Fox, “he’s a guy that has incredible hockey IQ. He has an NHL brain and he’s had the puck an awful lot at whatever level he has played at so the question on him as always been on the defending and skating aspect. It’s not a question of mine, the question is how quickly can he adapt to this level of play. I have no doubt it’s going to happen, I have no doubt it will happen it’s just when, not if.”
  • On Howden and Strome, “Strome gives us flexibility and, again, all of this is today. Strome did a good job on the wing last year and he gives us flexibility and it may be a game to game thing with this position. It all depends on their play. Strome gives us an opportunity to put someone in the middle if we feel that is the right move in that instance.”
  • On East/West players needing to play North/South, “a little bit of both. Everyone is born with a certain type of DNA. I also realize you can’t have 12 forwards going (straight ahead) the whole time. You want the skill guys to have a little bit of that in their game when it’s needed and you are looking for players to meet you half way and add that element of the game to their game but you aren’t asking everyone to run around be a Lemieux-type of player. You have to let people play to their strength and physical enough or hard enough to allow their skills to influence the game, that is all I ask. If you are a high-end player I want you to be tough enough to let your skills influence the game.”
  • Do you have enough Lemieux-type players, “having more wouldn’t hurt but I think we have guys who have it in them to do it more consistently.”
  • Do you have an outline of how many games you want each goalie to play, “it’s to be determined.”
  • On having a captain, “I think we would like to have a captain but that is something that will evolve. We are in a situation where it’s going to happen and the captain will pick himself in a lot of ways.”
  • On the PP, “When a season ends you remember the last 20 games and I think what may have been lost, at the trade deadline we were 11th in the league on the PP. Our PP was a lot better than maybe we all remember it, me included, because when the season ended it was almost to a point of wanting to decline the PP opportunity but there was a lot stretch where the PP was productive but we made those changes and trades and the whole dynamic of the PP changed. I don’t think we will have that this year.”
  • Do you expect Kreider to be like how Zucc started last year, “I don’t think so. Every team has guys in the last year of their contracts, Chris is a high profile player so I understand the question but I don’t anticipate that at all.”
  • On Brendan Lemieux, “if you’ve seen, he looks different too. He’s probably lost 10-11 pounds, lean, in great shape. I think that last year was a bit of an eye-opener for him because he came here and hadn’t been playing a lot of minutes and then all the sudden he is playing 13-14 minutes a night which was a big jump for him. He’d come to the bench and his face would be beat red and he’d been exhausted which you love because it means he is giving his all but he wasn’t ready to handle that work load through no fault of his or anybody. We talked to him about maybe leaning up a bit, he’s always going to be strong enough but the speed thing is something we thought would improve if he did lean up and boy, he came in in incredible shape and put an awful lot of work in over the summer to put himself in a position to have a good year.”