Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 06/09/09 at 01:12 PM ET
Q. You’ve been bugging me about asking a question all week. So here it is. Is Sykora in, and please give me the right answer?
COACH BYLSMA: The right answer, and it always is, is game time decision. He’ll be out there for warm-ups.
Q. You’ve used Crosby and Malkin together sometimes. Is it reasonable to expect we’ll see more of both of them either together or in different line combination?
COACH BYLSMA: I don’t think it will be any different than what you’ve seen. There are certain times when the match-up favors that situation where they get out there together. But again, there have been times where they’ve played very well together. And there are times when it’s better keeping them apart.
So sometimes in the game dictates where it’s a good time to get them out together for a particular situation. And that will continue to be how I look at it for tonight’s game.
Q. What about Sykora might appeal to you in this situation when he hasn’t been in the lineup for a long time?
COACH BYLSMA: Well, you know, Petr’s exceptional skill is he can shoot it in the net. That’s why he continues to play in this league, and probably will continue to play in this league. When you get 25 goals a year you have something. When he gets the puck on his stick, he puts it behind the goalie.
In a limited role situation, if he were to get the puck on his stick, you would expect him to rip it and have a chance for it to go in. So that’s why he would be appealing.
Q. In the aftermath of Game 5, at any time did you fear or have you detected even a sled of doubt creeping into your dressing room? Have you had to deal with that at all?
COACH BYLSMA: I’ve said it many times. I am a person who does not deny the thoughts that run through your head. You know, if you put a puck behind a defenseman, make him go back and you hit him and you do it five times in a period, it starts to affect the way he plays the game. That’s why we have a great game.
If you force guys to do that, you force them into situations, you can get to a team. So is there doubt? There’s always a doubt. That’s good teams, good people deal with the things that go through their brain and get focused on what they need to focus on to have success.
When you wake up in the morning you have a choice to make, and we have one coming into Game 6. How are we going to come out and play? That’s an individual thing and a team thing. And we’re getting our guys focused to come out and play the best game of the series and win this hockey game here at home. That’s what our focus is.
We know some different thoughts that go through there, but you put those aside. Focus on what you need to play, what you need to do to bring our A-game tonight.
Q. How do you define the terms character and pressure? And how do you think your team might be able to blend whatever those definitions are into a situation like tonight?
COACH BYLSMA: You know, I’m not quite sure what pressure is to be honest. I got a head coaching job in Wilkes-Barre and the reporter tried to make it sound like it was not a very good job to have because there were expectations attached to it. When I got this job there were expectations attached to it. ‘Oh, you have a great team, oh, you have good players. How are you going to do this?’ And I thought, what a great opportunity.
We have a challenge tonight. And it’s a challenge of winning two hockey games to win the Stanley Cup. It’s a unique opportunity. And it’s one I will gladly take over and over again. And tonight when we play the game, if we win two games, we have a chance to win the Stanley Cup. Our guys will be ready. We’ll be focused. We know exactly what we have to do. Game 6 is where it starts for us. Two games to win the Cup.
Q. Kris Letang said he still plays every single game for Luc Bourdon and thinks about him all the time. I know you weren’t here last year when everything went down. Can you just talk about Kris’s demeanor and if you have sensed that from him and if you’ve had any discussions about him, and what it means based on everything that happened after last year’s Final?
COACH BYLSMA: I haven’t had discussions with Kris about this particular instance. I’ve read articles and heard him talk about it a little bit through those articles. But I think every player in that room has something that they really - this is a special time, a unique opportunity. And there are things that you hold to mind and to heart when you get in these situations.
For Kris, that’s talking about a close friend that draws focus to him and meaning through this particular time. But I don’t think there’s a guy in that room who doesn’t have similar thoughts about someone or something, that’s why it’s a special thing to be able to do. It’s a great opportunity, and it’s a unique situation to get the opportunity to play for and to win the Stanley Cup.
I think you see it in a lot of our guys. There are other guys in that room if you knew their stories they would tell you similar ones. That’s why it’s a special, special thing. It’s a special thing to win together. It’s a special thing to compete on this level, and we all have something that we hold near to our heart in these times.
Q. Earlier this week after Game 5, Dan Cleary said that, you know, at this time of year both teams have talent. Everybody knows everybody. In order to close out a team you simply have to out will the other players. Talk about the will of your players coming into tonight not wanting Detroit to celebrate for the second straight year on your home ice.
COACH BYLSMA: We’re going to find out. I think that relating it to a previous question, and to your question about character, in a lot of playoff series, especially as the rounds go on, you see teams buckle. The other team plays at a level, they play physical, it’s a hard time of the year, and sometimes there’s a drop off in a team.
It’s always about rebounding the next game. It’s about finding more energy. It’s about digging down as individuals and as teams, and good teams, winning teams do that.
There are times when this team, our team, has had a chance to buckle and didn’t. We were down 3 goals in Philly in the first round in Game 6. We did not buckle. We were challenged by a good Washington team that was playing very well and their stars were playing exceptional, and we didn’t buckle. And we played a strong series and force a good Carolina team that was playing great hockey to not win a game. Now we’ve been faced with another challenge and another chance to see how we’re going to play.
Do we put aside the doubt? Do we draw on what we are as individuals as a team to show our character and how we’re going to come out and play tonight? That’s going to be a story of Game 6. How did we play? How did we battle? Did we dig down? Did we have the will and determination necessary to win this game? That will be the story line for tonight’s game.
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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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