Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 05/26/09 at 07:47 PM ET
Q. Will Marty and Nik be game-day decisions?
JOEL QUENNEVILLE: They’re day-to-day. They’re both coming on the trip. We’ll get a better assessment tomorrow’s skate.
Q. How do you personally approach this game tomorrow night? We’ve heard the players say you can only win one game at a time. After what happened Sunday, how do you approach it?
JOEL QUENNEVILLE: Well, I think our focus is that we have to play our best game going forward. There are some areas as we progress in the series where we’ve had good stretches against them.
But at the start of the series, we’re talking about we have to play perfect hockey. We have to be at our best. All elements of our game have to be in order and effective. We’re looking at it as small picture, shift to shift. Only the one game is our approach. I just think that for the last game, it’s easy to get excited about the next game because not much happened that was good in our favor.
I just think that we had a couple of strong games in Detroit where we were close and we know we got to be better. So I think there’s a little bit of excitement going in there tomorrow. But we’re only looking at the small picture.
Q. Players are talking about composure. Does that include you?
JOEL QUENNEVILLE: Absolutely. You know, I think we’re all in this together. I think as a coach and as a staff and as a team and as players, I’d say steady diet of things we talk about, discipline, particularly this time of year. And we tell our team play hard during the whistle.
I think as the game eroded there, discipline eroded last game. But I think going forward, you know, we always stress the importance of staying out of the penalty box against this team.
But I throw myself in that same boat of doing what I have to do to make sure that we’re focused and concentrating on the right things.
Q. Seems like everyone is counting you out. Do you use that as a rallying point with the players?
JOEL QUENNEVILLE: You’re right. I don’t think anyone gives us a lot of chance or hope. I think we got a great group of kids. We’ve overcome a lot. The enthusiasm we had on a day like today has been very good. Had a good practice. You know, I think we surprised a lot of people all year long. You know, maybe we can surprise them with a win tomorrow and talk about something else going after that.
Q. Joel, going into this series, there was a lot of talk about maybe this team, your team, being too young to be able to compete with the Stanley Cup champions. Has it been the youth and the inexperience that’s sort of made it tougher or is it just the fact that Detroit is skilled and experienced?
JOEL QUENNEVILLE: Well, they’re a great team. That’s a measuring stick, you know, if you want to beat the best, you got to go through Detroit. And I think, you know, I was very happy with ?? you look at the first three games, all the games were tied into the third period. You know, if we got a bounce in the first two games in Detroit, it might have been a different story.
Now it’s last game, they really stretched it apart on us. We feel we played well against Detroit in their building. We had a reasonably successful regular season against them. But that’s the door, the wall we have to get through to be champions.
And I think it’s a great measuring stick. It’s a good challenge for us. We should not be satisfied with where we’re at today. So that’s the challenge we’re facing. I still think we got a lot of excitement in our group and in our team, trying to get tomorrow’s game.
Q. Knowing those guys the way you do, the character, the fact they’ve won at other levels, would anything less than their best game tomorrow night surprise you?
JOEL QUENNEVILLE: No. I think that we expect it. We feel that this group ?? you know, they’re so competitive on a game?to?game basis, the energy on our team with the young guys at this stage of the season still comes out. So we expect that we’re going to need every ounce tomorrow from every guy.
But we need every guy to play their best game tomorrow. I think collectively that can help us try to get the job done.
Q. So much is made about the depth of Detroit. Do you guys have to play differently if you’re down one or two men, like Khabi or Marty?
JOEL QUENNEVILLE: No. No, not at all. I think, you know, whoever comes in their lineup, Huet getting thrown in in the middle of a game, Khabi not playing, some guys get a little bit more ice time, maybe Fras comes in tomorrow, different options.
But I think our line has been pretty consistent throughout most of these playoffs. I think inserting a player here or there has been in place all year long, or a different line mate all year long, during games, after games. But these guys have been very good at sliding in wherever they’ve been playing or whoever they’re playing with. So I think our team game has to be strong, but who you’re playing with shouldn’t be a problem.
Q. Huet took a lot of heat for Sunday’s loss. Do you feel how that might affect him if he has to play tomorrow or could that motivate him?
JOEL QUENNEVILLE: No, I think you’ve got to bounce forward and look at the next opportunity. Goaltenders, it’s a position where you get a lot of scrutiny, a lot of attention, going forward, looking at the next challenge, the next shot, the next shift, that’s how you got to approach it. He won a big game at the end of the season for us. We expect if he plays, he’ll be fine.
Q. I think yesterday you said that in order for Khabibulin to play, he would have had to practice today. Did he or Marty skate today?
JOEL QUENNEVILLE: No, they didn’t skate today. But we’ll see tomorrow morning.
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