Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 05/18/08 at 07:28 PM ET
Q. Someone comes up to you two months from now and says “how do you remember this season?” what will you say to them?
COACH STEVENS: I just told the guys that I have been in the game a long time. Working with this group has been one of the more enjoyable experiences I’ve had in pro hockey. It really has been. We’ve made tremendous strides this year, and we’ve come an awful long way.
And if you look back, we played the one, two, three season in the East in the playoffs and I thought we did a remarkable job. You give Pittsburgh credit. To me they were the number one seed in the East in terms of what I’ve seen.
And they’re very deserving of moving on.
Q. Because the run was so exhilarating at times, is there any danger, you think, in overvaluing what you have here? I mean, moving on, getting better? How do you assess that?
COACH STEVENS: I don’t see any danger, to be honest with you. I see it as a great stepping stone. We handled a lot of adversity. We had the ability this year with our team to have setbacks that sometimes you have to wait for the next year. Look at Washington, we let a series slip back. And we won Game 7 able to move on. And Montreal, we had some issues in the series we were able to iron out and move on.
Sometimes the lessons are learned. And we have to wait until next year. I thought we had the ability to right the ship and keep moving on and learn lessons and still keep our season alive. But there’s no question we need to get better. But I think we have. I think all our young players have vastly improved. I think our veteran guys we brought in are exactly what we hoped they would be.
And now we’ve made strides and now we have to try and get better from there. We wanted to get into the playoffs. Now we want to come back in here, compete longer than we did this year.
Q. What makes the Penguins such a formidable opponent? Do you think they’ve got what it takes to handle either Dallas or Detroit?
COACH STEVENS: I certainly wouldn’t count them out. First of all, they’ve got very talented players. And on top of that their talented players have great passion for the game. And their staff has really got them to buy into a real team game.
So they’ve got the three ingredients, in my opinion, that you need in terms of a team. They’re solid in every position. Goalie is playing great, obviously. Back end has experience. They’ve got big guys that are puck movers and big guys that are stay at home, and they’ve got great depth up front. They’re a great team, and they’ll be a test for whoever comes out of the west.
Q. Does how today’s game went, would a 2‑1 loss have felt any better at all?
COACH STEVENS: I think we got down and we were trying to catch up. I thought we had guys trying to do too much. And we started to fall into some habits that were there before.
But they got rolling and just seemed like it hadn’t happened all year but our spirit was a little bit broken there. But I thought we continued to play right to the end. I mean a loss is a loss. We don’t have the opportunity to move on. We dug ourselves a hole early on. But we would have loved to get this thing back to Philadelphia, but that wasn’t to be.
I don’t think you can put too much weight into one game. I think we’re going to look at our season as a whole, have a really good evaluation of the things we did well and the areas we need to get better. And this one game to me is going to have very little to do with that overall evaluation.
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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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