Nov. 7, 2011
MADISON, Wis. -- Head Coach Mike Eaves addressed the media at Wisconsin's Monday news conference, answering questions on upcoming foe Minnesota, Justin Schultz and Matt Paape among other topics. A full transcript follows.
View the archived video of the news conference
QUESTION #1: How do you view the rivalry with Minnesota as compared to, say, North Dakota, that you faced earlier this year and the intensity of that rivalry?
Mike Eaves: I think it's very similar. I think that guys get naturally emotionally jazzed up to play against these type of teams, so it's very similar in terms of the rivalry, and how the guys prepare.
QUESTION #2: Mike, there appears to be a lot to be concerned about with Minnesota. What does your list of concerns look like at this point?
EAVES: Well, to be honest with you, Andy, my list of concerns begins with our team, because I can control those things, and, we, as a staff, can control them. So we have a laundry list of things that we have, as a coaching staff, sat down this morning and looked at what we need to focus on, and we'll attend those. Obviously, they're a very talented team, but we're going to focus on the things that are going to help give us the best chance to play well.
QUESTION #3: You asked about the rivalry with Minnesota. The fact that they're being ranked number one now in some of the polls, what does that add in terms of spice, I guess, to this rivalry in this weekend coming up?
EAVES: Well, there seems to be a different number one every week, so I don't think it holds much, at least for us as a coaching staff. It is what it is this week, and who knows who's going to be there next week? So it's Minnesota, and the guys are going to get all juiced up to play. I think our challenge as a coaching staff is to make sure they don't get overexcited and emotionally jazzed, so they can't play with poise and confidence. You still have to find that level as an athlete to play in that flow state that gives you the best chance of playing well.
QUESTION #4: I think I know where this might go, but you have to, yes, I have to ask. You have had multiple games now to measure not having Derek not having Jake. How big are those holes now that you've seen your team play?
EAVES: Well, the response that comes to mind anytime you lose an athlete in your lineup, it changes your chemistry. It changes your line combinations, and so you can't lament over that. I think the mindset of the coaching staff has been who's going to step up? And, really, we've had that.
I mean, you have to give Keegan Meuer pretty good grades here for jumping up into the role that he's been thrust into, and he's done a nice job. I think you have to take a look at, Chase Drake has been given an opportunity to play... He played his first college game after over a year of sitting out and not playing at all. He did a pretty decent job. So we look at it as an opportunity for young men, and they've trained hard, and this is an opportunity, they've taken advantage pretty well of it.
QUESTION #5: Was it a night and day difference Friday to Saturday in St. Cloud, or is that way too simplistic?
EAVES: Yeah. Way too simplistic. If you were to sit and watch the video of Friday and Saturday, we did some really good things on Friday. It was one of those nights that, honestly, I wanted to go outside and see if there was a full moon. I've never seen a player knock two pucks into his own net, so that was just a lead-in to everything that happened. But the response on Saturday was tremendous, finished off by being down by two late and finding a way to tie it up.
QUESTION #6: You've had some really good defensemen come through here in your time, Ryan Suter, McDonough, McBain. How is Justin different? How is he alike them?
EAVES: Different. Well, first in alike, I think he belongs in that class. I mean, you take a look at all, what all those young men accomplished in their own way here, and where they are now. Whenever you have a player that makes people around them better, they're special players and people, and that's what Justin can do as a hockey player. I would say he's right in, he's in good company with those young men that you mentioned, and he'll have his chance one day to see if he can play at that level.
QUESTION #7: One more on the rivalry, if I can. Since you've been here, it seems there's a healthy respect between your coaching staff and Don Lucia's coaching staff, and the players obviously know each other. How is it similar or different to back when you were a player, with Coach Johnson and Coach Brooks, and the rivalry and the emotions going back and forth?
EAVES: Well, for those that know that relationship, that can speak to itself. They were fierce competitors. The recruiting trail was full of battles. The one thing that has changed over time is the fact that most of these young guys know each other. They grew up playing against each other in spring and summer hockey, and so I think that may take a little bit of the edge off.
When you don't know the other guys, and you have no relationship, and it's a rivalry, you're going to take it to the nth degree. But I think some of that edge may be a little rubbed off, not totally, but a little bit just because of the fact the guys know each other, and because they've played summer hockey together. The guys that come from Minnesota, and even guys across the country, with the sports festivals, they've had contact, so there's a little knowledge of each other.
QUESTION #8: You talked earlier about your list of concerns, that you were concerned about your team. What does your list of your concerns about your team look like right now?
EAVES: I knew you'd come around to that, Andy. You switched that around for me. Well, number one on our list is, obviously, our penalty killing. And we had our first night where we didn't give up a goal, so that's a good healthy sign, and so we'll continue to work on that. We'll get repetitions this week. We'll show video. We'll continue to grow. Again, we like the direction in which we're going, we're doing some good things. There's been a few breakdowns and some poor luck, but, hey, those are all part of the game. We're going to continue to work to make the luck come to our side, but that would be the top of the list.
QUESTION #9: Are you pleasantly surprised with Matt Paape's point production?
EAVES: We were just talking, Coach Shuchuk and I were talking this morning how here's a young man from Wisconsin, played two years of junior, came in, and every weekend, he just seems to be settled in a little bit more. You can see it in his game.
And even when he was first here, he was jumpy and nervous a little bit, but he still got some points. And now you can see him settling down, and he's playing with more confidence with the puck. The one thing about Mr. Paape that, he's a tough little nut. He's been hammered and hammered hard and gotten up and just keeps playing. You like that about a little guy. You know, he's got the skill, and he's got the toughness to stick his nose in there. We had hoped in recruiting Mr. Paape that this is the type we've seen, and, you know, it's coming to fruition even sooner than we'd hoped. And just keep going. That's what we're telling him. Just keep going.