Postgame Quotes: Wisconsin vs. Michigan State


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Postgame Quotes
Wisconsin vs. Michigan State
Feb. 21, 2014
Kohl Center – Madison, Wis.

Head Coach Mike Eaves
On Michael Mersch’s goals and how that affects the bench:
The fact that it was on the power play was probably the most important thing. We had a chat with that unit this week and talked about how we have to let go of what our power-play percentage is right now. What we need to do is get it going so that it becomes a contributing factor for the win. They did that tonight. Maybe even that short-handed goal kind of woke them up tonight and got them going. They did a lot of nice things and the fact that they got two power-play goals was a contributing factor. The first one was a really nice play and tip and the other one was with great effort. Michael has a propensity to do those things and he did it both ways, a nice one and a sloppy one.

On how senior weekend is going:
We spoke at the beginning of the week about the distractions that could come up: tickets, homework, and parents coming in. We told them to make sure that was all done early in the week. It is hard to measure if they did that or not. I thought at times tonight we were brilliant and I thought at times tonight we struggled. We ended up doing more brilliant things than struggling things. I think that we can be better. We need to keep getting better and being more consistent in areas. Do we think the seniors handled it? I think they did a pretty decent job. 

On how the special teams did tonight:
I think that the first power play was not as sharp as we needed. I think getting back on the big ice, we were kind of getting use to the space. Then they got the shorty and it was like a slap in the face. We responded with two power-play goals and we did a lot of good things. So that is a positive that we ended up on the plus side of that. We can build from that.

On if there was a line change on the short-handed goal:
We were out there too long. So in part with the line change, we were just out there too long.

On how important the record is to the team:
I don’t hear them talking about it out loud. That would be a good question for the players. I’m not in there as much as they are together. I think it is recognized because we talk about it in a general sense that we have something special. The reason why we have it is because we have gotten some pretty good starts here at home. So it would be interesting to hear what they have to say.

On having the momentum after the second period:
I was talking to Barry Richter on the phone and I think he put it best. When you get scored upon, you get the wind knocked out of you and when you get the score, you put wind in your sails. I think that is the way he put it. He said he had been on a few of those himself so he knows. But you can look at a game like this and say what are the turning points. We did a lot of good things, but we only were up 2-1. Getting that third goal gave us some separation.

On the sequence with the 2-on-1 save by Joel Rumpel and then Kevin Schulze pass to Mark Zengerle:
He got the puck from Frankie and he was going down the wall and he pivoted and came out of his turn. They do a real good job at fronting so it is tough to get pucks through. The defensive players are blocking the shots. We had talked about one of the things we can do to counter that is have someone off to the side. Now Mark did that and Kevin had the wherewithal to see it so with a little good saucer pass and the open net. That was one of the brilliant things we did tonight and we just have to do more of those.


Wisconsin Players

Q: For Mark/Michael did you guys notice more energy based on it being senior night, last series in the Kohl Center? 

Zengerle:  Yeah I think so.  The days are dwindling here so I think you have a little extra fire in you. Should probably be even more tomorrow. 
 


Q:  Michael how can you explain this massive success you’ve had at home this year?
 


Mersch:  Brian Posick asked me the same question, we’ve just been in a flow and we’ve been comfortable. I think playing all those home games right in a row kind of helps and you get comfortable and used to it, so it’s really helped us, we’ve won a lot of games and you know we’re going to keep going here with tomorrow night. 
 

Q:  The numbers suggest you’ve been dominant, not just winning but a lot of different ways. Somewhere there’s gotta be a line that links to how you’ve played this season.
 


Mersch:  Down the stretch here we’ve had good fan bases and good crowds so I think that helps a little bit and when teams come in here, especially in the Big Ten with the new teams, maybe they’re a little bit intimidated because they haven’t been in the Kohl Center before.
 


Q:  Brad, what’s it like being in this huge group of seniors?
 


Navin:  We’re definitely very honored as underclassmen. I mean they’re great guys to look up to. They’re all respectful. They’re all great role models and set good examples so I mean it’s something we’re very fortunate to be apart of with such a great group of guys.
 

Q:  Michael, after that short-handed goal did you guys wake up/get a sense of urgency? Because it seemed like it. 

Mersch:  Yeah. Yeah, well, our power play’s kind of been down a little bit. We’ve been in a slump and when they scored on that it really put our backs against the wall as a unit so it was huge for us to get that goal, and then we were able to capitalize again.  So it gives us a little bit of confidence going around here because we have to contribute on the power play if we’re going to win games.
 


Q:  Michael back in the day you were known as just a dirty goal guy in front of the net, now you’ve got a little flair to them, where’s that coming from?
 


Mersch:  I don’t know where you’re coming from with this flair, it’s still in front of the net, I think on the second one I ended up on my knees. I don’t know. I’ve just been getting good passes, you know Nic put it on the tape and I was able to deflect it in. That’s something that we’ve been working on in practice and just staying around that net is key for scoring goals for me.
 


Q:  Did Joel Rumpel brag about Canada winning?
 


Zengerle:  I actually, I had to get away I had to watch the game by myself, but we actually at pregame skate we put a big thing of tape on the back of his jersey and put ‘Go USA’ and he had no idea the whole time. I think everyone was taking photos and stuff like that.  Nate [LaPoint], our equipment guy, and I think Capo might have weaseled a few too. 
 


Q:  Mark, before your goal, how big was Rumpel’s save (biggest save of the game) on the 2-on-1, the emotional swing, how did that factor into the game do you think?
 


Zengerle:  The goal at the end?
 


Q:  Joel’s save that gave way to your goal.
 


Zengerle:  Honestly, I didn’t even see the save, but I mean it’s probably just Joel being Joel, I mean he’s been big time.  So maybe I just didn’t…it’s just second nature…it just (doesn’t) even register, it just happens with him at this point, but I think if you get a goal to get a two goal lead at the end of the period it’s big time there and you know on the other side of things you know, if you get that goal against you it takes a big blow out of you. And as the start of the goal goes, it was just an unbelievable pass by Kevin there I mean I had the whole net.
 


Q:  Brad, you think the lid has come off for you? A week after being a healthy scratch, Mike talked about giving you a chance to sit down and reevaluate things, do you feel better now?
 


Navin:  Yeah I mean, definitely, I mean you score a goal that helps you out a little bit, I mean I thought overall our line played well, I mean we provided energy through penalties, we played in their zone quite a bit, I mean we didn’t really have any mishaps in the D-zone that (would) take our confidence away so I thought overall as a line we did our job.

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