Head Coach Craig Berube
Q. What do you see differently in Vladimir Tarasenko’s game when he’s playing the way he is right now, dialed in, as opposed to his regular, solid game?
CRAIG BERUBE: Well, I think obviously the intensity level is at an all-time high here right now in the Playoffs. His intensity level is right up there. But his skating and his work ethic, with or without the puck, is really good right now. When he doesn’t have the puck, he’s going after it. He’s physical in all the battles. I think that’s the difference.
Q. What was the first conversation that you had with Vladimir? What was that like and how have you seen him evolve into whatever you tasked him with initially?
CRAIG BERUBE: I think just what I expect out of him. I know he’s a goal-scorer. He scores lots of goals every year. But there’s a lot more to his game than that. I think that needed to come out. I really believed he could be a 200-foot player in this game. That was what we demanded of him. He wanted to do that, too. He wanted to become that player. He wants to be in all these crucial situations. For me, he’s gotten better and better over the year. He’s really dialed into the team game, leading by example. His leadership has grown this year for me with his play on the ice, but also his communication off the ice with the team. I think that he’s really become more of a leader. Again, more of a 200-foot player, and that’s the one thing we really demanded out of him.
Q. You’re just now back home. The city hasn’t seen a Stanley Cup Final game in half a century. What are you hoping to see out of the crowd, out of the atmosphere?
CRAIG BERUBE: Well, I mean, it will be a great atmosphere, for sure. It has been all Playoffs. I think the fans, they’ve been great all year. We have a great fan base here, great support from the city. Everybody’s really excited right now obviously with the Blues being in the Finals. Again, it’s going to be a great atmosphere. There’s going to be a lot of intensity, I’ll tell you that.
Q. How hard have you seen Gunnarsson work to get back to this point, working through the injuries? How gratifying do you think it is for him, getting the pivotal goal for the series?
CRAIG BERUBE: Yeah, Gunnie obviously battled injuries this year at different times. He’s always worked hard and found a way to get back in, perform at a good level, a high level for us. Even before Playoffs, from his injuries, things like that, he stepped in and played really well for us and scored some big goals, a lot like last night in the game, where he obviously game up with a huge goal again. I think he’s been real solid since he’s gotten back in the lineup here in the Playoffs, given us really good minutes on a nightly basis in the Playoffs.
Q. Do you have a preference of pairing Parayko against the other team’s top line? Now having the last change at home do you have a preference for which forward’s you’d prefer to matchup against that top line in Boston?
CRAIG BERUBE: Well, we use the Sundqvist line against them. I don’t think I really tend to stick to one line against them. I think it depends on the situation, where the faceoffs are, things like that. I don’t mind using two to three different lines against them, depending on the game, what’s going on, how guys are looking. I go off a lot of that.
Q. Talk about what Sundqvist has meant to your team.
CRAIG BERUBE: Just all-around play, to be honest. Sunny has always been a good defensive player, penalty killer for us, hard working guy. His offensive side has really come through this year, scoring quite a few goals during the regular season. He’s gotten four in the Playoffs here. Been a real good player for us in the Playoffs. He’s got a good offensive side to him, too. He’s playing a real good 200-foot game. We kind of use him in all different situations.
Q. You want to give most of the credit to the players, but can you tell us what kind of stamp you put on this team when you took over mid-season, your strategies, schemes, how you motivated this team.
CRAIG BERUBE: Well, first of all, it is about the players. They’re the ones that go out and do the job and play. They’ve really bought into what we want from them. I think when we took over, we wanted a team-first mentality. We wanted to put the team first. We wanted to get these guys playing for each other on a nightly basis. That was the biggest turnaround for this hockey team. Now the strategies and all that stuff, there’s always different things that we bring in and work on and change. The players have all bought into things that we’ve done and changed in terms of strategies, the style of play. From the style of play standpoint, I think we wanted to really get all our guys on the same program here and be real predictable, north-south hockey team, a heavy team, a physical team, a hard-forechecking team. That was the style that we wanted. Like I said, the players have really bought into it. We’ve had good success with it so far, so it’s been good.
Q. You came off the bench during the delayed penalty. When you do that, is it, I got to get out there as quick as possible, reading the play?
RYAN O’REILLY: Yeah, just a quick reading of the play, trying to get to an area. The way it was developing, I was just trying to get over to just the middle there and be a support, hopefully have a one-timer either from the side or up top. Obviously he opened up, he did his thing.
Q. You practice, every team practices six-on-five a lot. How much of that practice helps you in a situation like that, even defending it?
RYAN O’REILLY: You know, I can’t say we practice it a ton. We talk about power play, that sort of thing. Then defending also, I think is something we cover and talk about. A lot of it’s just competing, using the extra man, supporting each other on those battles. It was a good overtime. We had a lot of momentum on delay penalty. Yeah, just knowing that when you get the puck, when they touch it, it’s going to be dead. It’s an opportunity to look for a clean play and a clean chance. Yeah, obviously was the deciding factor for the game.
Q. Doing the give-and-go with Gunnarsson, what’s going through your head? Did you think about taking the shot?
RYAN O’REILLY: No, as it came to me, kind of just trying to be as present as possible, see what I have available. The way the kind of thing shifted, he opened himself into a great spot, put it on his tape. I didn’t really do anything too special there. It was a heck of a shot.
Q. Describe what Game 3 is going to be like Saturday night.
RYAN O’REILLY: I don’t think I’ll be able to describe what it’s going to be like. I know from what I’ve seen, I’ve been very, very impressed. We’re excited to get back home and show what this town’s about.
Q. Can you believe two nights in a row there’s been 20,000 people in there, and you aren’t even in there?
RYAN O’REILLY: It’s amazing to see. This is a hockey town. They’ve been with us through the ups and downs. They’re excited. This is something new and special, and they’re a big part of it, a big piece of it.
Q. Talking about the penalties, how much do you need to cut those down?
RYAN O’REILLY: Yeah, I think it kills our momentum at times. We did play a lot better this past game. Still, we need to stay out of the box. Just gives their best players clean touches and opportunities. The more we can stay out of the box, the more it’s going to help our game.
Q. We see how lethal their power play looks, but defending it, what makes it so tough to deal with?
RYAN O’REILLY: They have elite personnel out there. They work well all together, the way they move the puck. There’s so many threats we have to be on them. We have to be as quick as possible. If we’re not working, get tired out there, they’re going to make us pay. It’s paying attention to every little detail from the draw to making sure if we get a chance to clear it, forcing them to have to go all the way back, having quick changes to stay fresh. Yeah, it’s a very good power play. We have to stay out of the box. When we have a chance to kill, make sure we’re super intense.
Q. Is your depth going to possibly be tested with players out?
RYAN O’REILLY: Yeah, absolutely. I think we have great personnel here. We have so many guys that can step in and do the job. Obviously it’s tough losing key players, but we’re confident. We have a great group here. We have so many guys that will be able to step in and make an impact.
Q. How do you manage to have the resolve and resiliency to bounce back after some bad setbacks?
ALEX PIETRANGELO: I said it before: When things aren’t going our way, we talk about it, learn from it, get better. Sometimes those aren’t easy conversations to have. It makes us better as players and as a team.
Q. How much has Chief set the tone for that, the attitude of how to respond to adversity?
ALEX PIETRANGELO: It’s not always negative. Maybe sometimes it sounds like we’re being negative. There’s things you can learn from. A lot of stuff in Game 1 was things we did to ourselves, things we could have corrected. We did that in Game 2 and it worked for us.
Q. What was your view on Gunnarsson’s goal.
ALEX PIETRANGELO: I know what the boards feel like (laughter). I was a little bit confused where he was. It was six-on-five. You’re just trying to find a spot to stand. I was tired so I parked it in front.
Q. How did you end up there?
ALEX PIETRANGELO: I was in the play before when Steener drove the net. The puck just kept going in circles. I think at that point seemed like I was in a good spot, so I just stayed there.
Q. What do you foresee for the enthusiasm Saturday night in the rink?
ALEX PIETRANGELO: Just look at what happened last night. They’re selling the building out and we’re not even there. We’re pretty excited to get back here and show the fans what we can do.
Q. When Chief said some of the penalties were overemotional or too much, when you go home, it’s going to be a charged atmosphere, how do you contain the emotions and stay disciplined?
ALEX PIETRANGELO: Same thing, you have to keep your emotions in check and stay disciplined. Sometimes it’s hard. Happened to us the last couple games here. Coming home here, we have to control the emotions.
Q. Was there any point in the season or Playoffs where maybe in your mind’s eye you envisioned Bortuzzo and Gunnarsson scoring a goal in the Stanley Cup?
ALEX PIETRANGELO: This time of the year, I heard you ask Gunny the same thing, using everybody in every situation. Played a lot of hockey to get to this point. Almost every team that gets to this point is playing four lines, six D. Everyone is playing in different situations. I think that’s why you see different guys scoring at different times.
Q. How much would it hurt you guys if Sundqvist isn’t available?
ALEX PIETRANGELO: A big part of our team. Plays big minutes night in and night out. I don’t know. See what happens today.
Q. With guys banged up, you have depth, but will it test your depth?
ALEX PIETRANGELO: Well, it tested us last night and we did just fine. We had injuries all year. We’ve had guys go down, other guys have stepped up. You want to have depth for this exact reason. Fabbs comes in last night, played a fantastic game for us. He jumps in as this level and played the way he did.
Q. Do you have any sense of the reaction in Sweden to your goal?
CARL GUNNARSSON: No, not really. I had a bunch of texts from friends and family, a couple phone calls. Yeah, it seems everyone likes it.
Q. Were they all watching? Got to be pretty late in Sweden.
CARL GUNNARSSON: Yeah, I know a few people that were up. Closest family, some buddies who were up and watching.
Q. With your ups and downs, perseverance pays off, with the injuries and everything.
CARL GUNNARSSON: Yeah, it’s been a long year, up and down. All worth it in the end. Obviously a little bonus scoring that goal last night, too.
Q. You have responded well to adversity throughout these Playoffs. When you had that hand pass go against you, the way Chief came in and told you to forget about it, was that one of the better things that happened because you were able to handle it?
CARL GUNNARSSON: In hindsight, yeah. Talked about it last night a little bit after the game with a couple of guys, how well the whole team kind of handled that, tried to turn it to our advantage, try to feed off of the energy. Yeah, not get angry, not focus on the wrong things. Kind of turned it around and use it.
Q. Can you tell the story again for those who haven’t heard it. Apparently you said you needed one more shot in the bathroom.
CARL GUNNARSSON: Yeah, between periods. Just talking, it was close there when I hit the post in the third. Yeah, I just said, Need one more chance. That’s all it takes.
Q. You could feel it coming?
CARL GUNNARSSON: I mean, I think we all felt it going into overtime. We came out flying. It felt like it was sitting there for us to take it. Just happy it was me.
Q. What is it going to be like to come back to a Game 3 at home tomorrow, the atmosphere?
CARL GUNNARSSON: It’s going to be awesome. I mean, everyone’s excited to bring this home. We’ve seen the pictures and the videos from the Enterprise Center for the first two games, and we’re not even playing there. I think everyone is just real happy and excited to take it home.
Q. Did you get much sleep last night?
CARL GUNNARSSON: A couple hours, yeah. Not too much. I mean, it’s kind of tough to go to bed after whatever happens in the game. You go through a lot of emotions, a lot of things in your head. We got the day to rest here. We’ll be fine.
Q. Did you save the puck from your goal?
CARL GUNNARSSON: I don’t have it, no. I don’t know what happened to it. That didn’t cross my mind at the time.
Q. You and Robert (Bortuzzo) scored, neither of you are known as goal-scorers. Something about this time of year that lends itself to not your typical goal-scorers to come up with big goals?
CARL GUNNARSSON: I don’t know. Everyone can chip in and contribute, we’re all happy about it. Just happened to be me and him. Usually not two big goal-scorers. Like I said, it’s just an extra bonus.
Q. Educate us on the ‘Good to See You, Carl’ greeting you seem to get all the time.
CARL GUNNARSSON: I guess that’s from Billy Madison. Just a fun thing. Been hearing that one for years. Kind of fun.
Q. The penalty situation, how can you guys get back to where you were in previous rounds?
CARL GUNNARSSON: We just got to be disciplined. We have two games here to feel out the refs. We have to be better, because we know their power play is real good, so we need to take another step.