Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 06/08/09 at 01:42 PM ET
Q. Can you address just the advantage that the home team has had winning every game in this series? Are the match-ups that critical in this series? Does that have anything to do with it? Or what is your estimation of why the home team’s got everything?
COACH BYLSMA: I don’t believe it’s the match-ups. You know, that does help out, does maybe - easier to get into your rhythm with your team and what your players are expecting because you get to make the final change.
But I think you’re talking about two teams that are playing pretty hard with skilled players, and it’s even enough that the home ice is an advantage for you.
I mean, playoffs it’s not always the case that home ice is a strict advantage or much easier to play at, but we played two pretty good games in Game 1 and Game 2, they were better. They were better in and around their net. They got those wins. We came home and played two pretty good games. And we got the advantage with two victories. And Game 5, they obviously were much better than us, and it’s that close.
Now we have the task of having to come back here and use the home ice advantage, use the energy of our fans, and use our surroundings to draw even in the series and prove that we’re that close.
Q. What is it about Marc-Andre’s personality where it doesn’t seem that anything externally seems to really bug him. He always just seems to be kind of happy-go?-ucky all the time.
COACH BYLSMA: I think that any good professional, especially in the situation in the goaltender, there’s lots of focus on him. There is lots written about his position. There’s lots of talk about his play throughout his career. He realizes that he gets to come to work every day and be the goaltender for the Pittsburgh Penguins, and he gets to battle like a bugger when he does it.
Every day in practice he relishes and enjoys stopping the guys when they come down the wing. Sometimes they go in, and sometimes Sidney Crosby does score on him, but he gets another chance right after and he’s ready for it. That’s his personality. He’s not bogged down by outside attention or media.
The situation for him is he’s trying to stop the puck, and when it goes in or doesn’t go in, that’s what he does the next time around. And he stops it with a smile on his face, and he gets ready to do it again. He’s getting ready to do it for Game 6.
Q. I know a lot of the sayings and slogans up in the dressing room predate your time here. But I’m curious or wondering how much those are little reminders of what it takes to win hockey games?
COACH BYLSMA: I think the atmosphere in which you approach things and the attitude that you bring to the rink and to what you do has a huge factor on the environment, and the environment which you get to work in and get better in.
For me, coming to the rink with the mindset this is a place to get better, this is a place to see how good you can become as an individual and a team and be vested in that. That’s the only way to get the most out of your team.
Your attitude dictates that in a lot of situations. You come to the rink with your head down, and it’s going to stay down most times. You come with the head up and come to work and come to get better, and you expect that of people around you and you have that attitude, you tend - that situation tends to follow you around.
So for me attitude is a huge part of what you do in life, and it’s definitely a huge part of what we do here at the rink. I think anything those signs and the atmosphere, that’s a part of it, of what we’re trying to create here.
Q. Would you - you have a guy that hasn’t played in a while, and you said earlier in the playoffs you felt confident, would score a big goal for this club again. Would you consider, and how strongly would you consider using Petr Sykora tomorrow night?
COACH BYLSMA: I’ve considered it every game from the time he hasn’t played until now. So I’ve always considered it. We’ve certainly talked about different scenarios in the coaches room and talked about what our team needs and what would help us win this game in Game 6, and we’re still talking about it.
Q. Along that vein, Billy Guerin, Fedotenko, Chris Kunitz, all playing with your two big centermen, none are producing at this point. Can you win the next two games without those three guys starting to produce?
COACH BYLSMA: Yes, we can. We have two games to win. We have one game to win to draw even. We’re focused on one game. Do we need those guys to score a goal? We don’t need them to score a goal. We need our team to play well, we need our special teams to be better than their special teams. If we do that, we’re going to give ourselves a chance to win the game.
We’ve won two here. We have to be ready and focused to put everything on the line to win Game 6. When you put together your team and you say, yeah, these are guys that you count on to be a part of the offense, definitely.
But we don’t need Sidney Crosby to score tomorrow to win the game. We need our team to play well. We need to get into the offensive zone and push them back on their heels and force them to deal with us. We need to get 35 shots at their goaltender, and we need to win the special teams battle. If we do that, we’ll find someone in that room that can score a goal. I’m confident in that.
Q. Coming off the loss that you had the other night, do you feel you had the focus of your team fully because they know things went so wrong the other night they have to completely change going into tomorrow as opposed to last year they came in on a big high with the overtime game in Detroit on Game 5?
COACH BYLSMA: Definitely two different situations. I don’t think we didn’t have their attention before, and now they need a 5?0 loss to get the attention. We’re in a different situation than we were last year. Guys in that room have felt what it’s like to lose in a Final and have that with them and understand that. But we now fully understand where we’re at.
They have one more win than us. They’re one win away, and we need two. So we need to come home, use our fans, use the building, get energized and get ready to lay it on the line for Game 6. We need to bring every focus and attention and energy to this game and to draw even and force a Game 7.
Q. If any of that core group in there that everyone talks so much about is viewing this as a defining moment, do you want them viewing it like that? Or do you want them just treating this like it’s Game 6?
COACH BYLSMA: I like it being a defining moment. You know, moments like this define where you’re at at that particular time. You know, everyone in that room should be ready to play their best game and make a difference in the game by playing their part, by doing what we do as a team. And that’s the challenge.
We don’t need one person to go out and score a goal. We don’t need just Billy Guerin to step up his game. Everyone needs to be ready to have the puck on their stick and make the play or make the defensive play or block the shot or make the save. We should bring that focus to the rink. Those are the type of games, we play that type of game, and that’s what we need. We need a defining game.
Q. In that vein, do you worry about guys not staying within themselves possibly trying to do things that are outside their normal game so that they can be a difference maker?
COACH BYLSMA: I worry a lot about a lot of things as a coach. That’s what we do in the coaches office. We worry, does our team have the right mindset. Do we need to do something different? What do we need to do at practice today? Yeah, we don’t need one person to go out and be the difference maker. We need our team to play better. We need to play the way we know how to play. The way we’ve shown we can play. And we need to make sure the attention, the focus and desperation level is there that as a team we go out and put our best game on the ice for Game 6.
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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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