Jan. 22, 2013
• Watch Eaves News Conference
MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin men's hocke head coach Mike Eaves answered questions from the media at the Badgers' weekly Monday news conference. A full transcipt follows.
Eaves spoke about his team as it heads into a Friday-Saturday home series against Alaska Anchorage at the Kohl Center.
MODERATOR: The men's hockey team returns to play this weekend hosting Alaska Anchorage at the Kohl Center. Friday's game will start at 7 p.m. and features a ceremony honoring the Badgers 1973 NCAA Championship Team. Saturday's game will start at 8 p.m. Both games will be televised live by FSN Wisconsin Plus.
On Sunday, the annual Skate with the Badgers will take place here at the Kohl Center from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Locker room tours will also be available at that time. Just a reminder you must bring your own skates as we do not have any rental skates in the facility.
Head Coach Mike Eaves is here. We'll take questions.
QUESTION: Just after reviewing that weekend series, that's a win win for your hockey program. Is that the way you view that?
COACH EAVES: I'm going to throw the question right back at you. What do you mean by win win before I answer it?
QUESTION: Beating a team like that but also facing a team like that, to kind of carry that on.
COACH EAVES: From that standpoint, talking to the coaching staff this morning, we feel like being exposed to that level of hockey, we can ask more from our players, like we're into January here, and we're going to even crack the whip more now in terms of what we can demand from them because they've tasted it, they sense it from an inside out point of view.
So it's going to be an interesting week of practice because I think they're going to they might even say what's wrong with Coach? We only lost one in our last 11, and he's kind of cracking the whip. We can now. We know what's available to us.
We've had that taste of blood. We want to get some more of that, and I think that we can be demanding in that way as a coaching staff now to a higher level.
QUESTION: Mike, you're five points out of first place. Do you view yourself as a title contender?
COACH EAVES: Getting there, I think it would be a good way to put it. I think we're making strides. I think we're figuring things out. So we're getting there. And part of the answer to Brian could be thrown on the back end of your question is that we're going to keep demanding more from these kids so that we get there and can be that kind of team that's there at the end of the year.
QUESTION: Has the change on your coaching staff been a good thing, and if so, how?
COACH EAVES: Well, first of all, there was a hole there when Bill left, and that's been filled. How it's been filled has been very good in that Matty hasn't come in banging the drums, having all the answers. He's come in with his personality and expertise and kind of just slipped in, been very much behind the scenes, created a little Esprit de corps with the defensemen, and as a result, I think the way he's come in with his knowledge and the way he's dispersed that knowledge and been part of the group has been very positive.
QUESTION: Are you a better team as a result of the changes? I'm not trying to cast aspersions on Bill, I'm just saying, since he left, since you brought Matt in, have you seen improvement in your defense? Have you seen improvement in how you guys have done things?
COACH EAVES: You're trying to make the correlation in the fact we went on a winning streak just after we got Matty on board and got things going. I think it's a little of both. I think it's the fact we struggled. We had a lot of things going on, and Matty coming in coincided with the fact we started to turn things around a little bit. So I think they coincide.
QUESTION: Mike, I think the fans will look at two scores and see you scored only two goals, but were you pleased with what your offense was able to generate against a very good offensive Miami team?
COACH EAVES: I just saw the stats on Saturday, and we outchanced them on Saturday by a couple. The glaring stat was the 0-for-5 on the power play. We had six scoring chances. We spent quite a bit of time -- or I did yesterday and then this morning with our guys talking about what we can do to try to generate -- try to stimulate some things there.
I think we're going to break up Zengerle and Barnes and Nic. I think they're pressing too hard. Sometimes you've just got to get away from each other, make some changes on the power play. I think that you don't want to mess with an unbeaten streak. So you don't change things too much and hope that things will get better inside of that. But now that we've lost, I think we'll tweak a few things this week and see what we can stimulate.
QUESTION: Care to share what your approach will be?
COACH EAVES: We're just flip flopping centers, Mr. Zengerle and Mr. Lee, as simple as that.
QUESTION: You demonstrated last week that you're not superstitious by in the middle of an unbeaten streak you change your goaltending rotation and that type of thing. With the changes that you're making here, you're kind of disrupting a line that seemed to be playing pretty well. Is the risk -- do you think the risk -- the reward is going to outmaneuver the risk?
COACH EAVES: Correct. I think we have to do something like that. I think those guys are playing so well together, if we don't like what we see, we know we can go back and have that there again. What that does, it's a selfless thing to do to go back and see if you can stimulate other people on your team.
QUESTION: What veteran -- and obviously not a freshman -- has improved the most in your mind this year?
COACH EAVES: You always get these questions to me, Andy. I've got to do a better job of speculating what you might ask. But who has improved the most on our team here? Let me go through the list here in my head quickly.
This may sound funny, but in terms of how he's playing in comparison to history, the guy that jumps out is Rammer [John Ramage], just because he's more relaxed. He's settled in and playing his game and not being worried about being the captain and being everything to everybody.
If you take a look at his stats and just the way he's playing and conducting himself, he jumps right to the front of the list.
QUESTION: Mike, the NCAA Board of Directors passed new recruiting rules that will go into effect on August 1st, which allow coaches to have unlimited text and social media messages, unlimited phone calls, and allows all the coaches to go on the road without having to split them up. A benefit for your hockey program? Yes or no?
COACH EAVES: I think it's a double edged sword. I really do. I think what it does is it it's hard to monitor all those things, and they were trying to monitor all those things. They said, hey, look, let's just take it right off the table. We don't have to worry about it. Then it's up to each school and to the kids that you're recruiting.
Sometimes kids get sick and tired of you staying in touch with them would be a projection of mine. We're going to find out here together how that works. What it did for the NCAAs is take that off their table so they don't have to check up and follow it and monitor it.
QUESTION: Mike, you've had a lot of success on the road recently and obviously this past weekend at home. Just talk about Anchorage, Alaska coming in. You guys had a lot of success against them last time.
COACH EAVES: And that's one of our challenges this week. You play Miami of Ohio, who's eight in the country, and that's an easy series to get all revved up about and be focused on. I think we have to understand that Alaska comes in here, they're going to be cheesed off we beat them in their own barn. They're looking for a little revenge. And I think their human nature comes into play where we may say to ourselves, well, we just played out there. We won twice.
This scares me because it's like, when you beat a team on Friday night, you feel good. They're upset. Now on Saturday they're going to come in and have a burr in their butt. Alaska's going to come in here with a big burr because we stomped them in their barn. I know Dave Shyiak. He's going to have those kids all charged up.
He's focusing for them, hey, we want to get ready to play our best hockey at the end of the year. This is an unbelievable opportunity to go on the road and make a statement in Wisconsin. So they're going to try to take something from us, and we have to be very, very cognizant of that and be charged up to play against them just for that very fact.
Plus we've got to keep winning. We've got to climb the ladder ourselves. That's our motivation. We're, as Andy pointed out, [five] points out of first place. We need to keep climbing that ladder.