Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 05/12/07 at 05:14 PM ET
Randy Carlyle and Chris Pronger…
Q. Coach, with the rules that are in place, what can you do about a player like Holmstrom standing in front of the net?
COACH RANDY CARLYLE: Well, I think it’s important that you do as much blocking out as possible, try to impede his progress to the net ‘cause that’s where he makes his living.
You know, there’s been a lot said about him. We classify him as possibly the best or second best. There’s another player in Ryan Smyth that does a similar job in front of the net. Those players have a knack of getting their sticks on pucks that are directed there.
But it’s not from a natural-born talent from the individual. If you watched today when they practiced, he was out there for a good half-hour, 20 minutes practicing that art. I guess practice makes perfect in a lot of situations, where he’s a force to be reckoned with at that position on the ice.
Q. Your one goal yesterday came from long range. I assume that means you keep up trying to get the traffic in front of Hasek, trying to get him off his game by whatever means possible?
COACH RANDY CARLYLE: I think again the statement is they can’t stop what they can’t see. If you continue to get people in front of the net for the screens, you get pucks through. It’s not always, as we just witnessed in the first game, the prettiest shots that go over the line (smiling). A lot of times in playoffs, those are the type of things that happen. They got two what you’d classify ugly goals, but both pucks went over the line and that’s all it takes. Deflection off our defenseman, then a puck that hit their player up high, went down in. Our player inadvertently put it in the net trying to scoop it out.
That was the hockey game. We had our chances. We’ll continue to drive our game plan, see where it brings us.
Q. Randy, you have obviously had more difficulty generating offense in this building this year than you have against the Red Wings in Anaheim. Is that a product of matchups, the building? What do you think?
COACH RANDY CARLYLE: I think, you know, at times the regular season isn’t a true indicator of how difficult playoff series will be. I think when you play in the regular season, it’s just that. The playoffs are a whole other level. I think that the ice surface in both buildings will be played equally. These games will be highly competitive in this building, and they’ll be highly competitive in our building. I think playoffs seem to eliminate that in teams.
As far as the offense, I don’t think there is an explanation other than the fact that the teams are playing strong of defensive hockey. I think power plays and penalty killing are at the forefront of playoff series. I don’t think this one’s any different.
I think that you can always look upon teams to play at least 20% better defensively come playoff time. I think every team has that ability. It’s a stat that I think you can almost live by. But playoffs are competitive and it brings the competitive juices out. On the defensive side, it’s more about positioning and hard work than it is natural ability that it does take to score.
Q. Randy, can or will Dustin Penner be a Holmstrom-like player? Do you see other qualities in his game that may take it in a different direction?
COACH RANDY CARLYLE: With Dustin Penner, I think that is one of the areas that he will continue to make a living at, is in front of the net. As I said, I don’t think it’s a natural talent that Holmstrom possesses. I think it’s because of his work of practice, practice, practice, and continually staying with that, tipping pucks in front of the net.
We try to make sure that all our players are aware of the success that these individuals do get by spending time on those types of things. Dustin Penner is a different animal from the sense he’s 6’4”, 245 pounds, and he does have a set of soft hands. He controls the puck down in the corners. From the blueline in, he’s a much more, I would say, aggressive player with the puck, where Holmstrom is a guy that gives the puck and then goes to his area.
Q. Randy, some of the guys mentioned last night that they felt they did the right things on the power play, but the goal didn’t occur. Do you feel that way or do you feel there’s anything that can be done differently?
COACH RANDY CARLYLE: I think if you want to look at one stat last night from our standpoint that stuck out in our minds, it was missed shots. We had 32 shots on net, but we missed I think 17. We had 17 opportunities where we shot the puck, directed it at the net, and we didn’t get it there. That’s a huge, huge stat for us.
The other area is I think they blocked fourteen shots. We had a lot of things go our way that were positives, other than the fact we didn’t put the puck behind the goaltender often enough. We can’t stray away from our type of hockey that we have to play. We have to get more traffic and get more pucks directed on net, force ‘em to make more stops from scrambles, from second-chance and third-chance rebounds, specifically the five-on-three and the four-on-three. I think we missed probably five or six opportunities to direct the puck directly on the net. We missed the net. That’s got to improve.
Q. You played with Teemu Selanne in Winnipeg. Can you reflect on him as his career has progressed, look back to when he was a rookie as to now?
COACH RANDY CARLYLE: Well, you know, as I said before, he’s got a hell of a lot more money. That’s one thing that’s a difference. He only had one car. I think he has 25 now (smiling). He’s got a big home in the hills at Coda de Casa on the golf course in California that I wouldn’t know what it’s worth, but I know it’s lots. He didn’t have that when he came to Winnipeg.
He still possesses the passion to play. He has the ability to read situations when he feels that there’s an opportunity for him to go. He has that two steps and he’s in full flight. He’s a very powerful skater. When you look at guys like Selanne, and you look at players that possess that, Gaborik in Minnesota was a player. They have out-and-out explosive speed. They’re strong skaters where they’re not easily knocked off balance or they don’t lose their stride. They’re very, very comfortable when we get in a position of a one-on-one position with a goalie. Their quickness gives them their opportunities, but they have that scoring in that case. He has not lost that, or it’s been rekindled in his two years since he’s been back with our hockey club. He’s found a way to reenergize his body, to reenergize his mind, and he feels really good about playing the game.
The thing that you can always say about Teemu is he’s a fun guy at the rink. He comes to play the game. He comes to practice. He doesn’t like to practice long, mind you, but he does like to come to the rink. That’s a special quality. That’s what you find in those players that play the number of years and achieve the success that he’s had. He’s had some hurdles to get over through injury and inconsistent play, but he has found a home with us, and we’re sure happy to have him.
Q. Randy, how would you assess the Getzlaf line against the Draper line last night overall? Was that a match-up you had anticipated?
COACH RANDY CARLYLE: You know, in reviewing what they did against San Jose, we knew they would want to play the Zetterberg and Datsyuk and Holmstrom against McDonald. They did the same thing against San Jose with Thornton. They played them up against Thornton. They used what they would describe the Draper, Maltby and Cleary line as their checking line against Marleau. Last night that was his wish; wasn’t my wish. I worked hard to stay away from that. We’ll continue to do that.
Obviously we have a game plan. They have a game plan. They have home-ice advantage. They have last change. But we’re not afraid to change on the fly. We’ll continue to try to get the people on the ice that we feel is going to give us the best chance for success up against their players.
Q. Randy, this business these days of live television interviews during the games, is it fair to say that’s something that you’re not particularly interested in? How do you feel about your players doing that?
COACH RANDY CARLYLE: For me personally?
Q. You and/or your players.
COACH RANDY CARLYLE: I don’t care if the players do it or not. That’s totally up to the individual. That’s their personal preference. If they want to do those interviews, I’ll never stop a player from doing them.
For me personally, I don’t want to see anybody when I’m behind the bench. Just my personal feeling. I think it’s about the players. If the game has got to go in that direction for that to open it up to the fans, then so be it. It’s a great move. We’re trying to sell this hockey game, the game of hockey, we’re trying to sell it to a higher level. If that enhances it, that’s great.
JAMEY HORAN: Thanks, Coach.
COACH RANDY CARLYLE: All right.
JAMEY HORAN: Questions for Chris Pronger.
Q. Aside from the fact that it’s streaky by nature, with the power play lately, anything you can put your finger on that needs to change or needs to happen differently in order for you to have success?
CHRIS PRONGER: I think the big thing is moving it around a little crisper, a little quicker. Last few games, we’ve been holding on to the puck a little too long. Allows the box to recover and allows the goalie obviously to get set. The other critical point is getting good traffic in front so he can’t see the shots. Hopefully we can do that a little better in Game 2.
Q. Thursday you suggested that when Holmstrom did get to the net, you’d basically leave him there, try to play around him. Did you change your mind?
CHRIS PRONGER: At times we left him alone, and at times you want to battle (smiling). Just depends on the situation. Got to keep you thinking.
Q. Tomas Holmstrom, he’s a guy you’re going to battle all throughout the series there. When all is said and done, is he a type of player you respect just for the job that he does and the way he goes about doing his business?
CHRIS PRONGER: It’s never an easy position to play, standing in front of the net. Obviously it’s a little bit easier now with the—not being able to abuse a guy in front, cross-check, the things that you used to be able to do before the new rules.
At the same time, it’s a tough area to battle in, a tough area to go to. He certainly does a great job in front.
Q. I think this is your sixth time playing against Detroit in the playoffs. What is your feeling towards the organization? You played so many times. Finally beat them last year. How did that feel?
CHRIS PRONGER: How do I feel about?
Q. Being against the Red Wings.
CHRIS PRONGER: You look at the atmosphere last night, you look at the tradition here in Detroit, and certainly the teams they’ve been able to put on the ice the last 15 years or so since I’ve been in the league, certainly they’re if not the best, one of the best organizations in the league. I think their record over those last 15 years pretty much speak for themselves.
The buzz and energy that is in here in the playoffs is always exciting to be a part of. You always look forward to these games.
It was nice to get the monkey off the back last year and beat ‘em. Obviously you need to go through teams like a Detroit, teams that are looked at each and every year to win. You’ve got to beat good teams to win it all. This is no different.
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