Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Alanah McGinley on 05/25/08 at 05:49 PM ET
Q&A with Pittsburgh Penguins coach Michel Therrien.
Q. What does Malkin have to do to re-establish himself as a dominant player in this series?
COACH MICHEL THERRIEN: First of all, we still have a lot of confidence in him. He’s a world-class player. He needs to stay focused. He needs to stay on top of his game. He needs to skate. He needs to battle. And if he’s doing those things, good things can happen to him.
But we do have a lot of confidence in him. He’s going to bring his game where it’s supposed to be.
Q. Coach, you find yourself in an odd situation, being down a game in the Stanley Cup playoffs. You haven’t been here before. With such a young team, do you worry about getting in that hole and bouncing back in Game 2?
COACH MICHEL THERRIEN: This is only one game. We would like to have had a better result yesterday. I didn’t think we played a good game. And the Red Wings played really well. I mean, in time I believe we could play a lot better.
We’ve proven in the past after a fair performance we always bounce back. This is what I’m expecting from that team. And we addressed it with the players before the practice. And it was important to make sure we got the right attitude today. I thought our guys were sharp during practice. So we’re going to try to bring that to the game tomorrow.
Q. You said before the first game that you were OK with the matchup with Zetterberg on Crosby. You were okay with that. Their five on five time was close to identical in the last game. Will you do more to try to get Sid away from them in the next game or are you still okay with it?
COACH MICHEL THERRIEN: We’re still okay with it. First of all, we don’t have the last change. We’re not going to pull Sid off the ice every time he’s going to play against Zetterberg.
We don’t have the last change, and they do. And I don’t mind that matchup. Five on five, I think it was pretty equal. And obviously that line for us, it’s a big part of our success. And it’s the same thing with them. That was a good matchup.
Q. Looks like you’ve made some fairly significant changes to your forward combinations. If that’s what you use tomorrow night, what’s your thinking in that? What’s your thought process on that?
COACH MICHEL THERRIEN: Don’t pay attention to the lines today. We’re going to take five minutes away for the press conference. (Laughter).
No, we’ve got to make adjustments. And that’s part - every team has to make adjustments through the course of the playoffs. And we believe those adjustments are going to help us to get success.
Q. By putting Talbot with Malkin, is that a way of addressing more physicality on the line that would be needed with the way they’re playing against Malkin?
COACH MICHEL THERRIEN: One thing that’s important for us, with the adjustment we made, there’s combination with the players. We want to keep those combinations. Like we’re talking about Crosby, Hossa and Malkin, Sykora. And we like Staal and Kennedy together. So when you evaluate the other team, this is where you have to make some adjustment, we believe. Ryan Malone could be a good fit to play against their top line.
With Talbot, I like his grit. I like his speed. He’s a guy that likes to pursue the puck, to create turnovers. So I believe it could be a good fit.
Q. Did you talk to the League before the series about Holmstrom and what he does in front of the net, and were you pleased that they made the call on him last night?
COACH MICHEL THERRIEN: Well, the League addressed it to us. It’s not like we asked the question. Before every round we meet the supervisor of the series, and he came to see us. They came to see them, what they’re going to target.
And this is - basically every round we’re doing that. I was pleased about the call, there’s no doubt. You want to give a chance to make the goalie safe. And we have Ryan Malone, he likes to stand around the net too. We have to be careful about that, give Osgood a chance to make those saves. You don’t want to see obstruction with the goalie. So I think it was the right call.
Q. When you take the tact that you did last night with strong comments, do you follow that up with a Evgeni Malkin with the hard approach or do you take a more tender approach with Evgeni Malkin one-on-one?
COACH MICHEL THERRIEN: I really believe communication, it’s crucial these days. You’ve got to communicate with the players, not only on bad days, even on good days. I think we’re a staff that like to communicate with the players.
We sit down with Gino today, and we have a lot of players, but obviously this is something we do on a regular basis, just a reminder of a few things he needs to focus on. With a player like this, I believe you’ve got to be positive with him.
He feeds from positive. But all players are different. So you’ve got to make sure you’ve got the right approach with all the players.
Q. You said you’d like to have Gary Roberts in your lineup, but it’s a matter of who do you take out if he goes in? It looks like he’s going in and maybe Georges coming out, what was the thought process there?
COACH MICHEL THERRIEN: Like I said before, it’s not like we didn’t want Gary Roberts not in our lineup. It was like the guys before we get to the Final did a fantastic job. They get a reward. It’s about rewarding players, and when we told Gary that he was not playing, got to make sure he’s got the right attitude and make sure he’s ready to play.
I’ve got confidence that he was going to be back in our lineup. Tomorrow he’s going to be back in our lineup. And obviously when you take somebody who is not playing, you bring him into your lineup. Somebody’s gotta get out. So we evaluate all different options, and we decide it’s going to be Georges.
Q. About Evgeni Malkin, you said early in the year prior to the game in Montreal, the first game after Sid was hurt, you told him not to try to do everything himself. Did he have a tendency maybe to revert back to that when things aren’t going his way, he tries to do more than he can do on his own?
COACH MICHEL THERRIEN: Well, a guy like Geno, the challenge that he got when Sid got hurt, like you said, I wanted to make sure that he was helping his linemates to play on top of their game. And this is what good players are capable of doing. This is what guys like Mario Lemieux did in the past and guys like Wayne Gretzky did in the past, and did try to help him focusing on playing with his teammates.
On the other hand, we put him in a situation to be a leader. He was a leader at that time. And I thought that he did a fantastic job when we lost Sid.
Just reminding him this morning that I want him to be a leader again. And we need him. He’s a big part of our success. And I want him to be a leader.
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