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Coaches Talk about the Divisional Finals

05/09/2012, 3:18pm EDT
By NLL.com

Hasen, Cordingley, Keenan & Sullivan discuss this weekend's playoff matchups


Derek Keenan will try to lead the Edmonton Rush into their first appearance in the Champion's Cup if they can beat the Minnesota Swarm on Saturday night in the West Divisional Final (Photo Credit: Dale MacMillan)

The 2012 NLL Divisional Finals are coming up Saturday night with the Rochester Knighthawks visiting the Toronto Rock (7 p.m. ET) and the Edmonton Rush traveling to face the Minnesota Swarm (9:30 p.m. ET)

Both games will be aired live on CBS Sports Network. The winners of each matchup will advance to the Championship Game on the weekend of May 18-20.

The head coaches of the four remaining teams talked about this weekend’s playoff games on Wednesday during the NLL weekly media conference call:

ROCHESTER KNIGHTHAWKS COACH MIKE HASEN

On traveling to face Toronto: “We know we’re in for a very big test coming into a rink that’s not that friendly (facing) a team that’s hungry to get back to where they were last year.

“It’s not a good place for us to play in, and hopefully one day, the monkey will jump off our back. We’re looking, hopefully, to have it happen this weekend.”

On what’s the Knighthawks need to improve upon after going 0-3 versus the Rock in the regular season: “It’s pretty much everywhere. … We just have to be our best at all facets. Our goaltending has to be on, our defense has to be doing what we can do, and our offense has to put the ball in the net a little more. We’ve got to be here for an entire 60 minutes. When we take shifts off, when we have lapses, Toronto just sticks it to us.”

On special teams: “It probably will come down to that. Whoever’s special teams are on and firing will be the difference in this game. I think both teams play a very good five-on-five game. Hopefully that will negate itself, so it will come down to special teams. We struggled a lot this year with that, so we need to be very disciplined.”

TORONTO ROCK COACH TROY CORDINGLEY

On getting past Buffalo to reach the division final: It was a typical Eastern battle … two teams battling to play in the Eastern Final.  We were fortunate to get the last bounce.”

On knowing that any team and knock off their opponent at any given time: “We saw what happened to Calgary (in their playoff loss to Edmonton) … (Rochester) handled Philadelphia, which was a team that handled us.  The parity is unbelievable and the past is the past.”

On young goaltender Nick Rose and handling playoff pressure: “Nick was real good for us against Buffalo. … One thing we really like about Nick is he makes some saves when we need those saves at crucial times and he’s been doing that ever since he started in our nets. I’m still learning about Nick Rose, but he’s a calm, cool, collected kid. If he lets one in that he should have had, he shrugs it off right away.”

EDMONTON RUSH HEAD COACH/GENERAL MANAGER DEREK KEENAN

On upsetting top overall seed Calgary after going 0-4 against the Roughnecks in the regular season: “The guys believe they had to do it. You can always talk that, but actually believing is a different thing.“

On facing Minnesota in a game involving two evenly-matched clubs: “It doesn’t get much more even than that. Two overtime games, 18 goals each, low scoring, chess matches. We thought we played OK in those games. We didn’t have very good second halves in those games.

“They’re a really good team. We thought they were a good team going into when we played them way early in the season. … They’ve continued to get better and they really are the hottest team in the league right now.

“(The Rush) were focused and loose going into Calgary, and I feel the same way going into Minnesota. Last week was last week and whatever happens Saturday happens.”

MINNESOTA SWARM HEAD COACH/ASSOCIATE GENERAL MANAGER JOE SULLIVAN

On the Swarm’s confidence having won five in a row: They’re confident, but we’re not so different than Edmonton. We’ve had our losing streaks, so we know how easily that can be taken away

“I think the confidence lies in that the role players know their roles. They seem to pick each other up when things don’t go so well, and all those kind of little intangible things you can’t seem to put your thumb on.  They’ve played real well as a group, they’re confident in the system, they’re confident in one another … the hardest working team is going to come out with a win, I’m sure.”

On the matchup with Edmonton: “You don’t get closer. … For those games, it was just back and forth. It’s slowly building up a little rivalry there.”

On which rookie goaltender will likely start: “With the play we’ve had out of Evan (Kirk) this week, I think we have to look at Evan. He’s coming off a pretty good win and played well.”

The coaches offered their thoughts on the league's weekly media conference call.  Listen to the call by visiting the NLL Radio page here

Check back to NLL.com later for game previews by our team beat writers and more coverage throughout Divisional Finals Weekend.

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Tag(s): Home  Toronto Rock  Rochester Knighthawks  Edmonton Rush  Minnesota Swarm