Jan. 27, 2014
Eaves News Conference
MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin head coach Mike Eaves address the media on Monday at the Kohl Center to preview this weekend's Michigan series. A full transcript follows.
Q. Mike, do you have a health update on Tyler Barnes?
COACH EAVES: He won't play this weekend. As far as I know, it's kind of a week to week deal. He won't play this weekend.
Q. Is there any chance of Nic Kerdiles playing this weekend?
COACH EAVES: There is a chance, yes.
Q. You're going to take it through the week and try and see where he is –
COACH EAVES: Yes, like we did with Sean [Little].
Q. That first look of Tyler's collision with the boards, were you a little bit more fearful that it was more than just a shoulder? Because he went in there pretty hard.
COACH EAVES: From the bench, it was tough to see through the glass and through their players on the ice. It sounded pretty hard.
I knew we were in trouble when their guy started waving for their trainer to come out. Then when we saw it on video, yeah, it was those darn boards don't move much, especially in the lower part. You get hit in the glass, there's a little give. Down where he went, talking with him after the game, he doesn't you couldn't tell on video whether he stepped on a stick or he toe picked, but whatever caused him to lose his balance really threw him in the wall. He wasn't very far away when he lost his balance.
Q. Mike, is there another level to Mark Zengerle's game? And, if so, how would you define it?
COACH EAVES: Is there another level? Could you describe how you got to that question, what you're seeing?
Q. Well, from my perspective, I thought he had a pretty good weekend in terms of creating, in terms of getting a lot of energy from that line. I know you've always talked about him, wanting to see more of him being a plus player. I think he's plus-2 at this point in time. Is there another level for him?
COACH EAVES: Well, the one thing we let's talk, first of all, to his play without the puck. We went to Mark, and his whole unit talked about them their play away from the puck needs to increase 10 to 15 percent. Since we've had that talk he was minus. That whole line was minus. And now they're plus 2. They're on the right path in terms of doing those things.
I think offensively, he's averaging about a point a game. He's generating a lot. I think that we talk about Barney's got 10 goals now, [Tyler Barnes] could have 16 and 17 goals, which would raise Mark's stats immensely. Mark made one fantastic pass to Barney at the side of the net, and Barney made a great move and faked in the middle and almost slipped it between the goalie’s legs.
I think the next level of his game is having people around him finishing more. I think that would help his offensive numbers.
But his play away from the puck is definitely going in the right direction, along with his linemates.
Q. Do you expect an extra challenge facing a team that you just faced and just beat, as in Michigan?
COACH EAVES: An extra challenge? I think it's what competitive sports is all about, the fact that you create these rivalries.
They came in here, had a spirited series, and we won a couple games. Now we go in there, and there's no secret it's going to be a very spirited series again just because it's a smaller sheet of ice. The people are right on top of you in Yost Arena. If you can just imagine playing in our fieldhouse with an ice rink in it, that's what you got at Yost.
It is one of the more fun atmospheres because you're in the game every second. The puck is a little bit like a pinball in an arcade game. It bounces off the boards. It's back into play. I think both teams will be excited to play again. I think one of the reasons the Big Ten -- we want to get back to that, is to create a balanced schedule where we play teams four times and you create these kind of rivalries. So it's going to be a fun series.
Q. Mike, going back to Mark Zengerle for a second, just so I interpret what you said correctly, it almost sounds as though, if he got a little more help, it would be he's doing all he can. It's a matter of him getting a little more help from his linemates in terms of being more productive.
COACH EAVES: I think that I'll take that a step further. I can see how you interpret that. I think Mark still has to take a lot of responsibility, as he did Saturday night. He had a two on one. Perhaps the loudest post I ever heard in the Kohl Center, reverberated for many seconds. He hit the cross bar the night before.
I think Mark still has that well, you watch us practice. He's shooting more, and he's just got to hopefully, those things start hitting the post and going in.
So it's part of his responsibility to keep shooting, get goals yourself, and that will also help his production.
Q. With Tyler out this weekend, would that not pretty much put more an offensive burden on Mark's shoulders?
COACH EAVES: He has to share that. Mark is a play maker first. So I think whom we put with him, we have to find somebody that has that ability maybe to finish or somebody that can create space for him.
Today we're going to put Sean Little there. By putting him there, he's going to create more space physically because he can go in the corners in a small area where he can get the puck and get to the front of the net. It gives the line a little different [look].
We might put Jedd Soleway up there, big, strong guy who can shoot and, again, create space for Mark do the puck off the wall. And because you've got [Morgan Zulinick] over there on the other side, who's a creative, young offensive guy, so you're giving them a little balance by having a more physical presence and giving that line balance.
Q. With regards to Nic perhaps coming back this weekend, I know you're a big you're big on chemistry. It looks like Michael Mersch and Jefferson Dahl had created chemistry. Do you tamper with that and put Nic right back where he was?
COACH EAVES: Not unless it messes with the chemistry. We'll keep that together for the time being for sure.
Q. Jedd Soleway specifically, is it a matter of time before he he's done a lot of good things. As far as finishing you said that Saturday for the entire team, but is he getting closer to being where you hoped he would be as a freshman by now?
COACH EAVES: By this time, we would have hoped for more goals from Jedd. He's had his first goal [two] times as a Badger and had them all taken away. He's had some tough luck.
Our hope is that the dam breaks and he just explodes because he's the kind of guy that should be getting more goals and being more productive offensively with his size and his shot and those types of things.
It's kind of strange, I'll be really honest. We talked about it as a staff this morning about what can we do to stimulate that and get him that feeling, that confidence again. I think going back to work, doing it in practice, finishing it in practice is certainly going to help get into games.
Q. You would think that those circumstances that you talked about with Jedd would weigh pretty heavily on a freshman. How do you work your way through it? Has it burdened him? Do you see him getting incredibly frustrated? How do you see him handling his disappointment up to this point?
COACH EAVES: Our experience with Jedd and you've seen him this season. He's a pretty quiet, young guy. I think you have to be loaded with a bunch of questions when you sit down and talk with him because he's not going to detour and go off and talk about this thing or the other thing.
Slowly we're getting to know Jedd. Young people are different, as we all are. It's just going to take time. I think that internally there is some frustration. Goal scorers like to score goals. But I think the fact that he continues to be on the power play and we put him out in situations, six on five, that are offensive situations, let him know that we have confidence that it's going to happen.
So we'll continue to do those things for Jedd as well.
Q. Mike, I know one of the goals this season is to win the Big Ten title. With three points for each game, you started last weekend down 10. You're now within seven. Things can switch even more so, it seems like, in this format, three points per game. Would you agree?
COACH EAVES: It is a little bit like being able to hit a three run homer in baseball. You're down by three, and you've got one swing at the bat. If you can get that one win, you get three points. So it's a little bit like that.
Things can change like that, which makes this exciting as well.
Again, you take a moment and you look at the big picture and see what's going on, then your next focus as a coaching staff is getting back to the next game, and that's where we are right now and into Friday.
Q. When you haven't been on the road for a while, does it take a little time to learn how to be on the road again?
COACH EAVES: I don't know. How long did you say, Brian, it's been? Two months? I think guys might look forward to getting on the road. It just simplifies your schedule. You get in, you practice, you eat, go back to the hotel. You chill with your buddies, your roommates, your teammates. You get up, you practice, and you've got to eat, sleep, and play hockey for two days. Kind of simplifies.
That in itself can be refreshing, as experience has told us. When you're on the road a lot, it can wear you down, but the fact that we haven't been on the road for a while, I think the guys will be excited to get out there and have that kind of schedule.
Q. If I heard you correctly in the past, you seem like a big fan of the home and home series, that this is not only creating rivalry, but just everybody's on the same equal footing in terms of who's going to come out of this standing at the end of the year.
COACH EAVES: I think one of the issues we talked about in the old WCHA was imbalanced schedule. And having a balanced schedule, if you can use the word "fair" tough to use that word because what is really fair in life?
But the fact is, when you play four times, you've got an even shot to get it done. The rivalries are going to increase because of the fact that I mean, this works out really well. We had a spirited series, and now we're getting right back at it. It's just going to elevate it to another level.
And in the barn they play in if I'm a college hockey fan, this is going to be on my calendar this weekend.