Transcribed for accessibility. For the sake of clarity and fluency, I have omitted extraneous uses of the phrases, “and,” “so,” “uh,” “you know,” and “but.”
Question: How do you keep this team together, keep it from falling apart? This is an unprecedented stretch since you guys have been here. How do you kind of keep things in perspective a little bit?
Bowness: Well, a lot of our issues have been self-inflicted. We just haven’t played well. Pittsburgh came in and played a very good game against us and then we kind of took too many penalties and didn’t get the job done there. You keep them [the team] together because you’ve got to understand how we’re losing and why we’re losing like this. Some of these issues are easily fixed because they’re coming from within. If a team - if you play a great game and they play a great game and they win - well that’s hockey. But that hasn’t necessarily been the case. It’s up to us to get back to playing to the standards that we have set earlier - the last couple of years. We’re not there right now. We better get them back in a hurry because we’re going into three very tough buildings. It’s going to be a tough trip. We better get back up to playing to the level that we’re accustomed to playing at.
Question: When you’re struggling at little bit on the PK [penalty kill] - giving up three against St. Louis, three the other night [against Pittsburgh]. Does it become more imperative to stay a little bit more disciplined as well?
Bowness: Yeah, but it’s funny. We took seven penalties in St. Louis and we killed off I think the last three. Then we went on a good stretch where we were one-for-six against Washington - we did a real good job there. Vancouver [and] Carolina didn’t get a sniff on us. Then all of a sudden you don’t see it coming - you give up three. I think that plays right into the - what we were just talking about - the inconsistent play. It’s just been an inconsistent penalty kill. Do we need to stay disciplined? Absolutely, stay out of the box. But when we take a good penalty, then it’s up to the killers to get the job done and kill it. That again is just inconsistent overall play.
Question: Did you see enough signs on Saturday’s game to make you think that maybe a break out is coming?
Bowness: Well, we could’ve got a point out of that. We feel we could’ve got a point out of that. You get into over time and then anything can happen. Not when you’re giving up five goals, four goals - no. We’ve got to tighten it up.
Question: When you talk about inconsistency on the penalty kill, is there actually inconsistency? I mean, what are the inconsistencies?
Bowness: Two of our biggest issues with our penalty kill are we lose too many face-offs and we don’t ice the puck when we have an opportunity. Both of those lead to spending just too much unnecessary time in our zone. If we can clean up the face-offs and we can clean up getting the puck down the ice when we have a chance, then it’s going to make it a lot easier. You look at the Pittsburgh game - the first two power plays they had, they didn’t get a shot on net. We won face-offs, we got it down the ice, and we were pretty good in the neutral zone in terms of disrupting the flow of the opposition. But then when we got into our zone, all three goals - we lost the face-off. A couple of them we had a chance to get it down the ice and we didn’t. That’s kind of self-inflicted, right? It’s not like we’re getting picked apart - although they made some real good plays the other night on us. We can clean up a lot of our penalty killing by winning more face-offs and getting the puck 200 feet when we have that opportunity.
Question: Jonathan Drouin has found his way onto the score sheet here the last couple of games. Is he doing anything differently or is just kind of a result of... [inaudible]
Bowness: Well you look at his second goal - like the power play goal - he’s gonna get those ‘cause of his skill level. You look at the second goal and that’s just high-end speed. It’s just a foot race to get there and win the battle for the puck. That’s what it was. When he’s able to utilize that speed that he has and get in around the goalie, he’s got the skills to bury them. That was the result of just very hard work and just winning the battle and winning the foot race. If he’s doing that, he’s going to create a lot more offense.
Question: Do you guys look to him specifically to kind of replace some of the scoring that you lose with Stamkos coming out?
Bowness: We need it spread out, but he’s part of that for sure. Yeah
Question: Having this group that’s gone through all the ups - and the downs, at times - for so long together. Having this group in place, how confident are you that once you get a couple of points, get things rolling, that this can be something that’s quickly turned around?
Bowness: Well, two things with that. Yeah, are we confident in our group? Yes. The flip side of that is the league is better. Like all the bottom-end teams, they’re a lot better, right? Look at our standings right now. There are teams that missed the playoffs last year ahead of us. Our division is better, our conference is better. We’re going into Calgary and Edmonton - they’re leading their division, right? The league is better. Are we confident in our group? Yeah, but we better realize how good the league is. A lot of teams are a lot better. We’ve got to get back to our standards that we haven’t met the last little while.
Question: How versatile is a player like Brian Boyle? It seems like anything you ask him to do, he can do it.
Bowness: Yeah, he can play three forward positions and D [defense]. He’s very good on the power play, big body. He blocks a lot of shots on the penalty kill. He does a lot of things that help us win hockey games.
Question: How key are guys like that?
Bowness: We need 20 guys like that - that can do whatever it takes to win hockey games. Brian is one of the key guys in all those situations we just talked about. [He’s] a very important part of our team.
Question: With this group, you have a lot of veteran voices in there as well - missing a couple of them. How key is it for them to kind of make sure everybody doesn’t overreact to what the team is going through right now?
Bowness: Okay - and underreact. That’s just as important, right? The voices have to send the right message in the right tone. Do we want to overreact? Well, I don’t know. We’ve lost a lot of games lately, so we certainly better not underreact. It goes back to recognizing how good the league is again. All the bottom end teams from last year are a lot better. Do we need their [veteran] voices to say the right things at the right time? Yeah. Do we want them to panic? Absolutely not. Do we want them to realize the dire situation that we’re in? Absolutely.