Q. How do you balance the event, seeing that this is going to be against the game that has to be played and the two points that are up for grabs?
COACH ALAIN VIGNEAULT: You know what, I think in an 82‑game schedule, having these two games, starting with the one for tomorrow, the one tomorrow and then the one on Wednesday, is real good for our group.
It’s a game on the ice will stay the same if the conditions are not what they were today. But if the conditions are just a little bit of cold and there’s no snow and the ice is good, then what you’re going to see on the ice is a real good hockey game.
And I think for both teams having an opportunity to play outside and play in front of great fans, is going to be real exciting. It’s a great time in the schedule. 82 games sometimes can be a little bit challenging.
This is a different atmosphere, different environment, but as far as the sheet of ice, the 200‑by‑85, it stays the same, it’s going to be the same game, except there will probably be a heightened sense of awareness and a little bit more excitement out there, and it should be pleasant and a lot of fun for everybody.
Q. When you first came here from Vancouver, we spoke about the various studies you did, sleep studies, travel studies. Knowing there are two games here, did you do any analytics for this at all?
COACH ALAIN VIGNEAULT: You know what, I’ve watched all the games from the past that I’ve been outdoors, saying to myself: Boy, I would like this to happen to me one time, that it seems like it’s a lot of fun. In the past weeks I’ve been talking to almost all our players that were on the ice two years ago, when they played against Philly.
And they all said the same thing. I mean, once you’re on the ice‑‑ if there’s no snow and there’s snow I think for five minutes at some point in the second period‑‑ if there’s no snow it’s fine.
I guess the conditions tomorrow are supposed to be ideal except it’s going to be a little cool. Let’s go, let’s bundle up and let’s go play some hockey.
Q. Coach, you knew in your mind, maybe pictured what it would look like when you stepped out of the dugout and got out on the field and got on the ice, was it more than you thought it would be?
COACH ALAIN VIGNEAULT: When I came out the first time, I went up and I sat in the stands to watch a little bit of the Devils practice. And we were just up a little high in section 100 something there, and we could feel the breeze. It was a little chilly.
But when we got, put our skates on, went out on the ice, other than the snow, it was fine.
So it was everything that I imagined it was going to be. Like I remember these days growing up, coming home from school, putting your skates on your shoulders, going in that box that was semi warm, putting your skates on, and going out and playing hockey.
And tomorrow two points are going to be up for grabs, but I can see this really being really exciting for all the players and the coaches and everybody involved with it.
Q. You mentioned the two points. Does your team have an advantage, having so many guys with previous outdoor game experience, do you think?
COACH ALAIN VIGNEAULT: I don’t believe so. I think right now all the teams, everybody’s in playoff mode. I mean, you just look at the standings, and everybody’s there. It’s so competitive. So hard‑fought. The fact that we have so few players that have played in outdoor games before might help as far as them stepping on the ice and knowing exactly what to expect.
But from being out there today, what I expect is the same thing. Referees are going to drop the puck and it’s going to be a battle and it’s going to be a hard‑fought game for both teams.
Q. Kevin Klein, this was his first practice with this team, his first full practice. To be traded in the middle of a season is obviously tough. But did the surface make it a little bit tougher?
COACH ALAIN VIGNEAULT: I’m sure you’ve asked him the question. What was his response?
Q. A bit tougher.
COACH ALAIN VIGNEAULT: I don’t know. As a player, when you come to a new environment, before you get to know your teammates and the staff and the personnel, it can be a little bit challenging. And getting used to New York can be maybe a little bit overwhelming, somebody coming from a small little town.
But it comes from Ontario. He’s played outdoors before. Expect the kid to come out of him and go out and play some hockey.
Q. Have you decided if Hank will play both games yet?
COACH ALAIN VIGNEAULT: I’ve decided he’s playing tomorrow, I can tell you that.
Q. The Devils and Islanders have given you trouble. Is there anything common in that thread?
COACH ALAIN VIGNEAULT: They’re both good teams. They’re both teams that play solid game. Our focus, obviously, is on the Devils tomorrow, a team that plays a real structured, real hard defensive game.
They’ve got some good size up front. And for me it’s like any opponent: If all parts of your game goaltending, defense, offense, power play, penalty killing, if one of those elements is not real sharp, there’s a chance you might not win that game. So we’re going to be ready in all areas of our game, have to be real good.
Q. Is there any reason to practice here again before the Islander game?
COACH ALAIN VIGNEAULT: No. Unless we enjoy the snow that much. But I think I’ve had my share today.