Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 06/12/09 at 02:58 PM ET
Q. Win or lose tonight, does it feel weird for you to know that this is all going to be done? Some of the players talk about win or lose, day off tomorrow. Is it weird for you after your whole season the way it’s gone and coming here?
COACH BYLSMA: How do they know I’m going to give them a day off (laughing).
Q. Fair point.
COACH BYLSMA: It does seem weird. You know, you battle and you win to go further and further and further. You know, you go to Game 7 in round two to get to the next round. You seem like you’re playing for your team’s life. Now it will be over after tonight. It’s going to be a good thing for one team. The other team’s going to wish it was a nine?game series.
Q. Asking you to get in touch with your inner Conde Nast. How many hotels do you plan to stay in in Detroit before this thing is over?
COACH BYLSMA: I think this was the last one we could possibly change, isn’t it? All in good fun.
Q. All year you do exactly the same things, you show up every day for the morning skate, you have your meal and everything. Is that all done for today because it’s normal now? You know, today’s such a big day, but you have this base as a player that you work with. Is that why that’s done all year?
COACH BYLSMA: You know, there’s - this is the time of year where you say stuff and knock on wood a lot. You hope, when you call up the hotel, the availability’s not there, so you can change. So the one thing I do know for sure in having experienced this in ‘03, the days off are not that comfortable. There’s thoughts and there’s watching the clock, and waiting for the next day.
But when you get to a game day, and you get to a morning skate, and you get to a meeting, and you get to going back to the hotel for lunch and then getting some rest, then getting up at the same time you get up always, that is normal. That feels comfortable because you’ve done it so many times before.
And, yes, it does provide the structure, does provide the atmosphere that you can say this is just another game. We’re going out to play something we’ve done a hundred and whatever, 12 times, it is already this year. It does feel much more close to normal than a day off does. So the structure does give you that sense of, hey, this is just another game.
Q. You guys went to the body pretty early on in Game 6 and kind of got them on their heels. It seems when you’ve had successful lengths of time in games going to the body has been fairly critical. How do you take that and bottle it and try to do it in their building where you guys haven’t been able to have much success?
COACH BYLSMA: Almost every time we’ve been able to do that it’s been because we’ve executed with the puck- tou know, execution, puck management. If you turn the puck over with their “D” faced up ice, then they get going in transition, and you don’t get after their team as much. If you have speed in the neutral zone, force “D” to go back for pucks and now you have to turn and go back, now they go “D” to “D”, and now you have another chance to pressure defensemen. If you stay in the offensive zone now on a loose puck, you know, a rebound goes in the corner, you have a chance to go leave a mark when you do that.
So a lot of it has to do with how well you can execute. How well you can support the puck, and how well you can be with getting it behind the “D” with good puck management to give yourself that opportunity. When we’ve had success, that’s something we’ve done well. Something we’ll definitely look to replicate early on.
Q. The two teams seem to take very different approaches to the morning skates. Most of Detroit’s regulars have not skated, and their coach did not skate. Did you consider doing something like that? And while you were out there, did it occur to you that would be the last morning skate with this particular club?
COACH BYLSMA: Yes, it did. And just to reiterate about the normalcy, we normally skate on game days. So to give an optional would have been something out of the ordinary for us. So we did what we normally do and have done and stuck with that for today.
Q. Mike Babcock said that if anything before the game tonight he wants to be calmer and more boring than usual, and that his message is just be ordinary. He doesn’t want to add to the excitement. Have you thought about what your pregame talk with the team will be and what kind of mood you want to give them?
COACH BYLSMA: I’ve been forced to think about it by questions over the last couple of days (smiling). But typically I reserve those thoughts for what I’m going to say for the afternoon when I’m resting a little bit. I’m pondering what I think the right message is, and what I think our team needs and what I’m going to say.
I don’t have anything written down or prepared. I don’t think it’s going to be a Herb Brooks or a Vince Lombardi type of speech. Typically the meeting that I will talk is about 8 to 10 minutes. Now as the series wear on they get hopefully shorter to 4 to 6 minutes, really brief time. We know what to expect from this team. There will be some minor adjustments and things we need to remind the guys about.
This one is going out and playing the game. You know, we know how we need to play, and it’s about playing that way and not getting caught up and putting your toe in the water and seeing how hot or cold the water is. This is one you jump off the end of the dock and you dive right in. Play our game, play the way we need to, execute the way we need to execute so we can dictate where the game’s played and how it’s played.
Q. Can you recall your favorite pregame speech that you ever heard as a player in your career?
COACH BYLSMA: Sorry, I don’t know if I can remember a favorite one. No, I don’t have one. I don’t have a Vince Lombardi draw, maybe because I haven’t won the Championship.
Q. You’ve got a guy in that room in Fedotenko who has had a big Game 7. Do you anticipate maybe leaning on him or asking him to maybe at least describe what that moment is like?
COACH BYLSMA: No, I haven’t gone there. Again, he has talked in our room in the last few days, but that’s not odd for guys to have done that and given the opportunity to do that.
So we’ve talked about this game yesterday as a group, and he was one of the guys that talked. And there are other guys as well talking about how we think we need to play and just how we’re going to approach the game.
So, again, did we lean on him, yeah? Because he did speak up. But he’s not going to wave a magic wand tonight for us.
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