Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Alanah McGinley on 06/04/08 at 01:01 PM ET
Q. Coach, can you talk about how proud you are, as a head coach, of the effort that your guys showed in Game 5, you had guys with broken noses and injuries, and seeing them come back and Max making the goal, is that the most proud you’ve been of a team in your coaching career?
COACH MICHEL THERRIEN: They showed a lot of character, there’s no doubt about that. And they see the prize. There’s a lot of sacrifice. It’s nice to get the reward, and they deserve it. It was a game that could go to both sides. We capitalized on the power play. And we get a high stick in the face.
But there’s no doubt, this is a team that faced adversity through the course of the season. And it was not any different last game.
Q. Any lineup changes?
COACH MICHEL THERRIEN: No, the same, yes.
Q. Mike Babcock yesterday was critical of the two goaltender interference calls in overtime. And he made a comment where he said: Maybe I’ll just try to do what the other guy is doing, in reference to complaining about the call to the media. Is that part of the gamesmanship coaches go through at this time, just trying to get an edge?
COACH MICHEL THERRIEN: This morning I’m trying to walk around, introduce myself. I’m the other guy, I guess (smiling). The complaining ? there’s two different things. Mike’s complaining about calls. And we’ve complained about the non?calls. So that’s two different things.
And we’ve been told at the beginning of the series that they’re going to protect the goalie. Obviously, you know, he didn’t have any complaint when Osgood got bumped and he fell down on Ryan Malone, I think it was Game 1 or Game 2, I can’t remember. Didn’t hear any complaint.
We’re complaining about obstruction, and we’re complaining about interference. It’s two different things. And you have to go with the book. And this is what was supposed to be called, and there’s times where we thought they were non?calls. And we believe that we were right.
So it’s part of the frustration, I guess.
Q. Is there a chance we’ll see the same power play unit together, configured the way it was, that scored the game-winner?
COACH MICHEL THERRIEN: When you get into your third overtime, the number one thing you want to make sure you’ve got fresh players on the ice. And, yes, we’re capable to have two units, like they do. They’re capable to have two units as well.
It’s a brand new game. And our focus has to be on tonight’s game. I can’t tell you right now if we’re going to go with two units or one unit.
Q. With Fleury being so solid throughout the series, especially in the last game, does it influence how aggressive you’re going to be knowing that he can come with a big save if he really needs to?
COACH MICHEL THERRIEN: Not really. You want to make sure you’re solid in front of your goalie. That’s the number one priority as a team, and you can’t leave your goalie by himself. But there’s no doubt, he gave us a huge, huge chance to win the last game. And it puts players with a lot of confidence when you see a goalie make those key saves like he did.
Q. A lot has been made about the mental aspect of the game thus far in the series. How do you encourage your players to forget about the emotional high of Game 5 and get back and be zoned in as they were at the start of Game 5?
COACH MICHEL THERRIEN: We’re going to need to have the same approach that we had in Game 5, concentration, paying attention to detail. The first half of the game we were really, really sharp. And we couldn’t put the game away. Osgood was good. And he made some key saves for the Red Wings.
But at this time the mental part of this year is crucial. Even if the emotion was high after the last game, and I’m sure they were pretty frustrated about being 30 seconds away to win the Stanley Cup, they must have been pretty down. But you have to try to find the right balance.
So as a coach you have to concentrate about the technical part of the game to make sure the players are really focused on the game.
Q. Two questions about Gonchar. Can you talk about how he’s feeling and how he may or may not be limited tonight; and secondly, how important is he to this team? He’s that one elite defenseman that you’ve got?
COACH MICHEL THERRIEN: He’s a big part of the success of this hockey team. And we were glad that we were capable to use him on the power play at the end, because we got two power play on the floor and it was not working well for us. He’s a big part of it. And he should be all right to play tonight.
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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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