Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Alanah McGinley on 05/25/09 at 03:48 PM ET
Q. Just curious if you’re getting to a point or would you like to get to a point where you go back to six defensemen? And sister question, did you assess Sergei Gonchar’s play since his injury?
DAN BYLSMA: Again, you know, the reasons why we entertained going to seven, they’re still there to varying degrees. Things have changed, but we’re still contemplating that situation.
You know, I think at some point we’d get back to six.
Sergei’s play – I think we’ve benefitted a lot from him on the power play. The way he brings the puck up the ice and in the zone. Just knowing the nuisances of getting the puck to different areas that we need to try to have success.
So he’s big in that regard.
But this is one of the things probably one of our better defensemen at activating and supporting our rush out of the D-zone. He’s been doing that quite a bit the last few games. So he just adds that element to our D. The puck moving element. The support to the other players, and moving the puck out of the D zone and into the power play.
So he’s definitely added that. It’s a big part of having team success. Being able to move the puck up the ice and executing with it. And being able to get to the offensive zone. He’s one of our better defensemen with that.
Q. Has he struggled a little bit on the power play to get back?
COACH BYLSMA: Is he?
Q. Is he?
COACH BYLSMA: I think that more has to do with the length of the shift and when it happens than anything. You know, when you’re out there for 1:15, and the puck gets behind you, penalty killers have probably been out there ?? this is the third set of penalty killers. They’re fresh.
Those are situations that you have to manage the puck a little differently. There have been occasions with the strength of their penalty killing unit and the aggressiveness of their forwards that they’ve been able to get up ice. That’s something we know about and are concerned of.
Q. Does this team need to guard against overconfidence right now?
COACH BYLSMA: I think it’s been two days off. Every Coach has a lot of thoughts go through their brain, and contemplates what their team needs in terms of focus on the game, and focus for the game plan.
So, you know, we certainly know the situation we’re in, being up 3-0. We also know we’re not on ?? we haven’t won four games, this is a race to four, and we still have more work to do to get there.
You know, I think our players have been ?? I understand they’ve been to the finals last year and didn’t get the result they wanted. No, we’re not there yet. We still have work to do. And we’re good about being focused today on what we need to do.
Q. Is it more mental than anything with both clubs. If they can get an early lead and get momentum. Is that part of the bigger part of Game 4?
COACH BYLSMA: I think that’s a big part of the playoffs in general. There’s momentum in those games. There’s riding the wave in periods, getting goals, getting two?goal leads and keeping teams down, that’s a big part of the playoffs.
It’s such a great spectator sport because of that, those emotion rides, because of the mentality of teams. You know, winning a game and then forcing the next game, those are big, big factors in every playoff series. Every playoff series you can talk about them.
We look back to our first series and we had a chance to win in Game 5. Had to go to Philadelphia in Game 6. You deal with those different emotions.
We lost in Game 6 of the Washington series, and had to go win a Game 7 in Washington. You deal with the teams back on their heels. You’re dealing with momentum and other teams buildings. That is a part of every playoff series. It’s not going to stop until one of the teams in the series gets four.
So we’ll be aware of how they’re going to come out. We believe they’re going to come out real strong, and try to get up and use their building again. They did that last game, they did that in the third period. Came out strong and got it to a one goal game. That is the strength of their team and what we expect them to do. They won’t quit.
Q. Can you talk a little about Max Talbot, his versatility with the seven D you’re carrying. You’re able to place him almost on any line. Can you just talk a little about his game?
COACH BYLSMA: Yeah, Max can fill a lot of different roles for your team. He can fill a centerman’s role. He’s played on our fourth line. He’s obviously playing wing for Geno and Fedotenko. The penalty killing, hasn’t gotten any power play time, but he hasn’t asked for any yet either.
But we can do a lot of different things. He’s big in the face-off circle some nights. Block the shot. Score the big goal, he scored one in Game 2. He has a knack for having an impact in games.
The key to that is his ability to understand what his role is any given time. Whether it’s penalty kill, fourth line center, moving up to the second line, lot of people get mixed. Kind of, okay, now I’m an offensive player. If I moved up to the second line.
Max knows his job on that line is to forecheck, play on the corners and drive the net. Which doesn’t change a lot if he’s on the fourth line. It’s just an energy role now for one of our top two lines.
That is the strength of his game, and he has impact because he’s able to focus on what he brings. And he brings it in whatever situation he’s in.
Q. You’ve had different dynamics as the series progressed. Is it different, and how is it different being up 3-0, if it’s different at all? When you walk around and what you sense, how it feels?
COACH BYLSMA: My experience in being up 3-0 as a player was we were scared of giving any life, getting momentum in the opposite direction. Even though 3-0 seems like a pretty good spot to be in. We want to take every advantage we can to play our game, play the right way, and keep the momentum in our favor right from the drop of the puck.
That was my experience as a player, and that’s the way I feel and the way I think we have talked this morning with our team. We want to make sure we play the right way. We want to do the right things, execute the right way and get to the offensive zone so we can play our game.
We believe they’re going to play hard. We believe they’re going to work. They’re going to try to get back to the offensive zone, use their speed against us, and get this building involved and get that first win in their favor and get momentum.
We believe they’re going to come out and play their best game. And that’s what we’ve talked about being ready for.
Q. What is it about Rod Scuderi’s game has made him into such a shut-down defenseman?
COACH BYLSMA: I think he’s probably been developing into that. You know, he had that role last year as well. He’s an unsung guy. He goes about his business. There’s not a lot of flash there unless you think blocking shots is flashy. But, you know, I think his agility goes underrated.
His skating is north, south, straight ahead. It’s not exceptional. But his agility from side-to-side, being able to pivot with some of the skill guys in the league is pretty exceptional.
One particular incident last series against Ovechkin, he went north-south across the blue line and stayed right with him. Stayed on puck and was able to limit his time and space with a pretty talented guy going east-west. And that’s something that probably isn’t really focused on a lot by the media.
But from our team what he’s assigned to do and how he goes about it how he continually goes about his business. He’s not overly physical, but he’s certainly got time and space, and for that reason he’s an in-your-face type of player.
The other thing he does really well is he executes in our game plan really well which minimizes his timely defensive zone. So he’s not overtaxing that regard. He creates great gaps and we get back going the other way.
So he’s pretty matter of fact how he goes about his business. There’s not a lot of flash there. He’s pretty good at what he does. He knows what his role is. And how they’ve become a pretty big part of our team in defense and turning down the opposition skill players.
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