Dec. 10, 2012
• Watch Eaves News Conference
MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin men's hockey head coach Mike Eaves spoke Monday after the team earned two points at home last weekend against Michigan Tech. The Badgers forced a 1-1 tie last Friday night, then split a 3-3 contest with the Huskies on Saturday. UW remains home for a series with Alabama-Huntsville this Thursday and Friday, Dec. 13-14.
Archived video of the media session is available through the link above and a complete transcript of Eaves' remarks can be found below.
Question: Mike, who's been your most consistent non-goaltender this first half?
Eaves: Consistent non-goaltender, and I repeat the question to buy time to answer it. It's something they taught us at communication school. I would have to go down the list here, and the first guy that pops in my mind is Derek Lee, as far as a forward. I was just reviewing the stats from this last weekend, and kind of typical of Derek, he wasn't flashy this weekend, but his face-offs are good. He helped set up a goal. He was responsible in the zone, did a nice job on the power play. So he'd be the first guy that comes to mind.
Question: Mike, do stats tell the whole story with your hockey club this year?
Eaves: No, not at all. I look at that game on Saturday -- Sunday, all day Sunday. We have 66 hits on our own -- on an Olympic-sized sheet almost, which is really high. We outchance our opponent by eight, 20-12. We only gave up 12 scoring chances. We only have 5 turnovers at the offensive blue line, which is really low. We create 37 shots. Our penalty killing is 100 percent. Our power play had one chance really, because the other one was two seconds long, and we create 3 scoring chances. Once again, a little befuddled. We're not winning, and yet we're doing a lot of really good things. I take a look at our game right now, and what are we really disappointed in? Is it our effort? No. 66 hits, and that's been pretty consistent. Our blocked shots, which is a stat for effort, that's been there. If you take a look at how we play, are we playing as a system out there? Does it look like we know what we're doing? Absolutely, it does. The only thing that's lacking, and why our record is the way it is, because we haven't finished, plain and simple. So are we to pick apart everything we've done and panic and say the sky is falling? Absolutely not. When you sit back and spend a whole day Sunday watching video, as I do, and watching the hits and everything else, you know what, if we finish better, our record's better, and we feel pretty good about ourselves. I don't know how -- we had five scoring chances in overtime, and I don't know how the wraparound by Barney didn't go over after looking at it closely on the replay. We're a little snake bitten right now in terms of that. The stats -- especially the win, loss, tie stat. It doesn't reflect the things that this group of young people are doing. We're not going to say the sky is falling. We're not going to panic. We're going to stay the course here and figure out a way to maybe create more scoring chances. But I believe guys like Barney, and once we get Zengerle and Kerdiles back in the flow again, I think that they're going to answer some of our problems here by scoring goals for us.
Question: Mike, you mentioned finishing. I'm just curious, you mentioned the scoring chances in overtime. In general, do teams play a little safer in overtime, or are they just as aggressive in that period as they are in regulation?
Eaves: I think it depends on what the coach says right before you go into it. If you're a visiting team and you're on the road, you might want to make sure we're keeping our third forward high and not giving any odd-man rushes against. When you're at home, you want to play with balance. We still want to play with our foot on the accelerators and look for those moments when it's proper to jump in with an extra guy.
Question: In talking about the only thing your team hadn't done is finishing, we heard that a lot with the football team this year until they finally broke through in the Championship game. As a coach, how do you teach, how do you instill finishing? Is that something you can put into a team's mind?
Eaves: It's something we emphasize in practice. I think, if you went to most practices of high level people, that you would hear that term in one way or another, and it might not be that term. We set up some of our drills where you get to a point, and then the end is about finishing the drill with goals.That's something that we do. We have a drill we call a Daily Double because you get two chances to score on the same play. So, yeah, it's a point of emphasis. The drills that we do, you're not just going in there to shoot the puck at the goalie and make him feel good. You're trying to finish. And one of the areas is that I know at the next level in the National Hockey League where they keep this stat that 68 percent of all goals are scored on second shots, rebounds. So that becomes a point of emphasis as well. So these are the type of things we're emphasizing in practice, and we'll continue to and see if we can break this little snake bitten-ness that we have in terms of scoring goals.
Question: I understand Blake Geoffrion is the honorary captain on Friday. I'm sure you're looking forward to seeing him and how he's feeling.
Eaves: Looking forward to seeing Blake on many levels. I know that one of our alumni Billy Ray is here in town. He had dinner with him last week and said he's doing quite well. I think he's kind of -- I'll be interested to find out where he's at right now in his recovery and where his thoughts are. Does he feel like he's definitively coming back, or does he want to take his time and see how he feels? Or maybe he knows now that coming back is not an option for him. Those are the three categories that you would kind of project that he might be at right now. We'll sit down and chat and see where he's at. With his two brothers coming to town, the whole family might be here. That will be fun to see everybody.
Question: Continuing on the Blake discussion, if ever there was a classic case of someone -- of a why you would want to come here and stay for four years and endure through college -- not only the Hobey Baker, but here's a guy who's had a difficult injury whose career may not unfold for him, that he has a degree to fall back on. I would guess that you emphasize that with your players and with recruits that come in here. Here's a case for him to do that.
Eaves: We emphasize (that) all the time, and this is just the most recent of cases, yes.
Question: Obviously, you have your own scheduling and program to run first, but with a program like Huntsville coming in that's struggling to keep it going, what level of responsibility do you, other coaches have to do with keeping it alive, the growth of the sport, seeing that that program doesn't go away, I guess?
Eaves: It's very much on my mind. It's something we talked about at our coaches meeting about it's not good for college hockey to lose another team. They kind of went through a turmoil last year, on again, off again, back in again. They were looking for games, and we were contacted. We looked at our schedule. This is the first time we've played this late coming up to exams. Usually, we have this week off. But we felt that it might be a good idea to get them in here to keep their schedule going, and so it was on our mind when we decided to play them, yes.
Question: From what you recall or what you've seen, do the Geoffrion brothers play similarly?
Eaves: They get after it pretty good. They play with a lot of energy. I think that's a gene that's been passed on to all the kids. They'll play hard. That's for sure.