Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 05/15/09 at 06:16 PM ET
Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews participated in a NHL tele-conference today…
Q. Could both of you touch on how Coach Quenneville has helped in your development?
PATRICK KANE: For me, I think obviously with Savard, you can make mistakes, and he’ll draw you right back there on the ice. With Joel, if you take a dumb penalty or make a couple mistakes, he’s not afraid to sit you down and things like that. He makes every shift worth it out there for you. He’s been great. I think he’s come in and done a great job for a lot of us, helped a lot of us enjoy it.
JONATHAN TOEWS: I feel the same way. He definitely expects reliability and smart team play from every player on the ice, doesn’t matter who you are. You know, I think that’s why we’ve been such a good team this year, you know, the ice team is spread out and everyone does their part. Everyone plays the same way and everyone has their role.
You know, he definitely has a lot of discipline over the players. Guys have a lot of respect for him in the locker room. You learn to play the team game with him, for sure.
Q. This being your first NHL playoffs, who gave you some valuable advice before it began and what was their message?
PATRICK KANE: Well, it was obviously one of the things when you’re a kid, you obviously watch playoffs a lot, see how intense it is. But to go out there and actually play in your first couple playoff games, it’s definitely a different game than the regular season.
Obviously, you know, you still play your game out there, do your thing, play your role. But it’s definitely a lot more intense. I found out the first couple games, I got hammered pretty hard a couple times. I guess that’s the way it is. Obviously, you know, every shift’s a big one. You’re playing for your lives every game and every game is a must-win.
JONATHAN TOEWS: I wouldn’t say anyone gave me specific advice. I think, like Patrick said, you have to learn as you go yourself. You know it’s going to be tough, the pace is going to be higher. You learn as you go and you find a way to step up your own game and elevate the way you play.
You know, it’s tough, but you got to find ways to contribute every game. Whether you’re on the score sheet or not, you got to bring some sort of energy to your bench and find a way to do something out there.
Q. What have both of you drawn from your experience in international hockey to help you adjust and deal with the pressures of a Stanley Cup playoff?
PATRICK KANE: I think it’s a totally different game actually from the international to the NHL. When you go over there in the international tournaments, it’s a lot of power-plays. Everything is called with penalties and things like that. It’s obviously a high level of competition. I think it’s fun playing in games like Canada versus the U.S. and things like that, when you’re playing a great country.
But, you know, the NHL is the NHL. This is what you play hockey for, is the playoffs. I mean, you want to be playing at this time of year in the NHL for us.
JONATHAN TOEWS: I guess for me personally, I think it’s similar in a lot of ways in that the stage is the same. At Christmastime, playing in the World Juniors, there’s so many people watching back in Canada. I think it’s the same this time of year playing playoff hockey. You don’t necessarily have every single Canadian fan behind you at this time, but there’s definitely a lot of pressure.
As they say, your reputation is either made or broken in the post-season. I think we’ve both been trying to play our best and shape the kind of reputation, the kind of player we want to be remembered for, I think.
Q. Patrick, I was wondering, when you played with Honey Baked, I believe you billeted at Pat Verbeek’s house. How much of a Red Wing fan where you at that time?
PATRICK KANE: Living in Detroit, I actually hated the Red Wings, hated the Pistons, hated all the Detroit teams, because that’s all I heard about from the Verbeeks and my other billet family I lived with in Detroit, too. I was always rooting against ‘em.
Detroit was obviously really fun to watch. Verbeek was pretty involved with the team at the time, too. I think he was the commentator there. You know, but for me I always rooted against ‘em. I was always a big Sabres fans. If it was the Pistons or something, I was always cheering against them, too.
Q. Patrick, people heading into the season and maybe even this post-season, I think you were referred to as a team with a future, up-and-coming team. Do you feel like with what you’ve accomplished so far, with what you have the opportunity to accomplish here, it’s sort of a chance to show you’re an elite team now, that the best isn’t necessarily ahead, but you might be in the middle of it right now?
PATRICK KANE: Yeah, we agree. You know, with the salary cap these days, you never know how long you can keep a team together. For us, we want to take advantage of the opportunity we have now. I think we have a great opportunity here. Before the year, if you told us we’d be in this position, I don’t know if I’d believe you.
But, you know, now it feels like we have a great team, a team that can do some damage. You know, I think it’s gonna be a great series, though. I think the fans obviously wanted a Wings/Hawks series. In Game 6, three or four minutes left, they were yelling, Detroit sucks, things like that. It’s going to be great for the fans.
The team, you look at every different game, it seems like a new player steps up. That’s what is so great about our team.
Q. I know they beat you the first four games of the year you played against ‘em. They were close in some overtime. How much did beating them back to back at the end of the season, how much does that maybe help your mindset heading into this? Had you gone 0-6 against them this year, would it be different?
JONATHAN TOEWS: Yeah, we were definitely thinking about that. I know the first season, I mean, a year ago, I think we had a 5-3 record or something like that against them, so we were pumped about that. This year it was kind of like a pride thing. I think we played really well against ‘em early in the season, lost in a couple shootouts. Just kind of got uglier as the season went along. We lost that big game in the Winter Classic, too.
I think those last two regular-season games definitely meant something to us. You know, it never says that much about what can be accomplished in the playoffs. I think, you know, against Vancouver and Calgary, we definitely threw the regular-season series out the window, knew that didn’t mean anything. I think they understand that, too.
So it’s going to be a different game now. But as far as our experience against them, I think we know what kind of team they are and how they win games, so we can try and fight against that and shut that down. But I think the last couple days have been great for our preparation. I don’t think we’re thinking about what happened in the regular season too much.
Q. You used a fast and relentless scoring attack to eliminate Calgary and Vancouver. You’re up against the Detroit Red Wings, the team who has arguably the best depth up front in terms of scoring prowess. Will you be using your run-and-gun scoring style or do you change your game plan around?
PATRICK KANE: For us, I think throughout you can say we played that kind of style, but throughout the Vancouver and Calgary series, I think we were playing a more defensive first game. We had some great transition chances and things like that. That’s where our speed comes from and things like that.
Obviously, against Detroit, they have some very talented players. You can go down their list, six or seven superstars on their team.
It’s going to be a tough challenge for us. Obviously we feel we have the depth, too. You look at our lineup, you can see four lines that are usually going. That’s great for us. We use that to our advantage, too.
Q. Could you talk about the depth you have, specifically guys like Martin Havlat and Patrick Sharp. And talk about the addition of Sammy Pahlsson, especially in a series like this. Obviously has a lot of experience this time of year coming over from Anaheim.
JONATHAN TOEWS: I think that’s great. You look at two guys like that that are obviously a huge part of our offense. Sharpy obviously has battled a lot this year. You know, at this point he’s been great in the playoffs for us. Same with Marty. So, I mean, we like that scoring from all over. I think, like was said before, that was one of the biggest reasons why we’ve come through two rounds already, that we’ve had contributions offensively from so many different guys.
You know, Sammy, on the other hand, has been great for us because he’s added more depth I think down the middle. He’s just been a solid two-way player for us, I think, winning draws and killing penalties. He’s even been on the power-play lately, too. So he’s definitely a reliable player and somebody that we can trust and rely on, especially in key draws and key situations in our own end.
Q. You may know a guy named Chris Chelios. He compared you two to a young Datsyuk and Zetterberg. How do you take something like that, as a compliment, or are you your own players, your own duo?
PATRICK KANE: I mean, if he’s saying that about us, it’s a great compliment. Obviously, we have a long way to go to get to that kind of superstar status. You look at guys like Zetterberg and Datsyuk, what they can do with the puck, the way they control the game, it’s definitely going to be a challenge for us to shut them down.
I mean, obviously, as I said, we’ve had the depth before. You know, that’s why they’re so good, too, because they have so much depth on their team, it’s tough to look at one guy and cancel him out. That’s why we’re doing so good in the playoffs, too, because we have so much depth.
Q. Talk about the season Khabibulin had. First put on waivers, now doing well, standing on his head at times, playing well.
JONATHAN TOEWS: Yeah, no, he’s awesome. I don’t know. Khabi is Khabi. He’s just a competitor. He’s a pretty confident guy in what he’s able to do. There’s not much more you can say about him. He’s a heck of a player. He’s been a guy that we’ve leaned on. Sometimes you’re going to need that. A young team, sometimes you make mistakes, you have off nights. He’s been there on those days where we needed him. He’s won a lot of games for us. It’s been the same way here in the post-season, too.
Q. Can you talk about Nicklas Lidstrom, playing against him. What makes him so difficult to play against, just the challenges he presents?
PATRICK KANE: I think for myself personally, I’ve had a couple good encounters with him where, my first couple games in the NHL, I remember I had a shift where I was coming down, tried to chip it by him, he knocked it out the air. I got the puck the same shift again, tried to chip it by him again, he knocked it out of the air again. He obviously has a great stick. He’s always in good position. You know he’s not a guy that’s gonna hammer you, but he’s one of the best defensemen in the league. You watch him in the power-play with his slapshot, getting shots through, he’s unbelievable at that. He’s so creative, too.
Q. Some of the biggest contributors in the first two rounds of the playoffs for you have been guys from the Rockford Ice Hogs who have bounced back and forth over the last couple years, Kris Vresteeg, Dustin Byfuglien and Dave Bolland. How important have those guys been to this team and how important will they be in this upcoming series?
PATRICK KANE: They obviously had a great season, especially Bolland, Versteeg and Byf. You look at those guys, Byf has been a tank in the playoffs. He’s been running around, crushing guys. He’s been playing his best hockey this year right now. That’s great that we have him at this time of year. Obviously Versteeg, he’s had a great year overall. You can see by the Rookie-of-the-Year nomination. Obviously, Bolland is probably one of our best two-way centers. He’s been scoring some big goals at times, too. All of them have been great.
You look at a lot of guys, not only them, but guys like Brouwer and Hjalmarsson, so many guys that have come up from Rockford that have done so well for us.
Q. To what extent, if any, did the Red Wings’ experience bother you guys?
JONATHAN TOEWS: Well, I don’t think there’s anything new as far as experience goes. We said it before, I think everyone is starting to understand the fact that, yeah, we are a young team, we’ve never been to this point before, but also a lot of us have never been in the playoffs before.
To us there’s no difference there. We know that they are defending champs. I think at the same time there’s an honor to play against a team like that and hopefully be the team that knocks them off.
You know, it’s a huge challenge and a huge opportunity that we’re excited about. In a lot of way pressure’s on them, so we’re just going to go out there and play and have fun and let loose, you know, just go out there and play. I think there’s no reason to get overexcited and overwhelmed by it, that it’s a great experience that we’re going to enjoy.
Q. Patrick, much has been made about the difference in experience. It doesn’t sound like that bothers you guys at all. How do you not get overwhelmed by the Wings’ experience?
PATRICK KANE: You know, I think you look at our situation, it’s kind of like an experience-versus-youth kind of thing. For us I think, you know, you look at our team, too, we have some experience. We have three guys that won the Stanley Cup in three different situations that have helped us and guided us throughout the playoffs like Ladd, he scored a big goal, Pahlsson has had a huge defensive role, and Khabibulin has been unbelievable for us, too. It’s nice to have those kind of leaders stepping up.
I guess we’re a young team, but we’re looking forward to the challenge obviously and see if we can pull something off.
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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