Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Alanah McGinley on 06/04/08 at 03:04 PM ET
Q. Can you just talk about the atmosphere of the skate this morning? Did you think the guys looked pretty loose?
COACH MIKE BABCOCK: Yeah, I mean, I thought they were fine. But I haven’t rated that all year, the last three years or any of that, not a big believer that the pregame skate has a whole lot of impact in the outcome of the game.
Q. It’s been clear throughout the year you guys remained level-headed, is that more than anything else the signature of this team, they just never let anything get to them really too much?
COACH MIKE BABCOCK: Well, I wouldn’t say that at the start of the last game. At the start of the last game we were nervous, no question about it.
And I’m glad we’re through that process. And now we have an opportunity, understanding what we did last game, that we don’t want to allow that to happen. We want to get started on time, and just be the team we’re capable of being. And I think it’s very important that ? I’ve said this many times- just stay in the process. Focus on the things we do, the foundation of our game, and everything else will look after itself.
Q. Is it fair to say that, and maybe looking to Game 6 against Dallas there ? that your team, in these kinds of situations, rather than being a superly emotional and aggressively emotional team, tends to rely on the system and sort of the efficiency that you guys deal with when you’re at your best?
COACH MIKE BABCOCK: We don’t call it the system. I mean, we rely on three things: work ethic, first; structure, second; and skill, third. And you gotta have the work ethic and the composure first, and then you always count on everybody doing their job.
I think that’s what structure is in the system. Just do your part. You can’t do it all yourself. Just do your part. And be under control. And I’m optimistic that we’re going to be like that tonight. We’ve been a determined group all year long, and that’s what we plan on being here tonight.
Q. Henrik Zetterberg just became the franchise leader in playoff points in the season. I’m curious if you can talk to us a little bit about the offense is just part of his game. Talk to us about his commitment to the two-way game and his skill level at the two-way game?
COACH MIKE BABCOCK: I think all the great players that end up playing at this time of the year that are great players are that. They have to be, because your team doesn’t get—in order for you to set something like Hank just did, your team has to play a long time. In order to play a long time, you have to be good without the puck.
And I think that’s evident. They’re good players, too. Their good players have been good defensively.
Q. Have you calmed down the nervous nellies in last night’s meeting, and can you use the last two goals they scored as motivation going into the first period?
COACH MIKE BABCOCK: I think we had calmed down by the end of the first period last game, or maybe after the first two shifts of the second. I thought we got planned. So that wasn’t an issue after that. But I also think being through it, having the opportunity to go home and then get regrouped and understand what you just did, now you want to be better.
And the second part was the two goals?
COACH MIKE BABCOCK: I think there’s so much motivation here right now. It’s not like you need anything more. Our players and their players are going to be ready to play tonight. There’s no question about that. You gotta be under control. It’s not like you gotta jack them up to play here.
They know what’s on the line. They understand. And so it’s being under control and doing what you do.
Q. It’s been a while since there’s been a Stanley Cup playoff here in Pittsburgh. I just wondered what your impressions were about, generally, the atmosphere in the building?
COACH MIKE BABCOCK: I think, number one, the town’s really nice. The NHL was here for the draft, I don’t know what year that was.
COACH MIKE BABCOCK: ‘97. And it was nice. But I mean, they’ve done an unbelievable job with the city. And obviously Mario and his group, keeping the team here, and the new rink coming and the franchise-type players and the youth they have here, and marquee names to sell a franchise, it’s a great situation. And the people are excited about their team.
And I think it’s fantastic for them. They had really great teams here for a number of years. Things weren’t so good for a while. And it’s great to see them back and the city looking like it does.
Q. With 58 shots, you only get three goals; was it Marc-Andre Fleury or are you doing something that you’re not doing to get the puck past him?
COACH MIKE BABCOCK: Two things, I’m not a big believer in letting the goalie outplay you. I think when you do, you have to look at yourself and make sure it doesn’t happen again. We can’t miss the net 41 times like we did.
Pound it off him, get a second chance. They’re doing a good job trying to box out, and we have to make sure we’re going there and being relentless at their net. And that will be our focus and our plan.
Q. Are you able to appreciate what this series is doing for the game of hockey right now? I think Game 5 was up 111% over a year ago. The numbers in Detroit were on top of the roof, whatever you want to say, are you able to appreciate what the series is doing for the game?
COACH MIKE BABCOCK: I’m trying to appreciate everything about it. And what I mean by that is enjoy everything about what’s going on and taking it all in. I believe the people in the media, the referees, the coaches, the players, the League, we’re all in charge of selling the game.
I’m a big believer in that. And the better job we do selling the game, the more of us get to work in it and the better the game is.
And so I think it’s obviously really good for Detroit. You see what’s going on in Pittsburgh. The cab driver on the way over here today thanked us, not just because he’s a Pittsburgh fan, but the fact that he’s going to make more money. And I see that every day when I walk into the rink, the ladies there that are cleaning up all the time always say: Coach, good job, let’s keep playing. They get to feed their kids by doing that. And I think that’s important.
It’s good for our communities, but it’s good for the League, and that’s positive.
Q. Are your guys rested and recovered and are you hydrated and renourished going into tonight?
COACH MIKE BABCOCK: Sure. I think that’s the greatest thing about our sport, is you play in the Super Bowl, you get two weeks to prepare. You play the one game. And in our sport, when your legs are falling off, you just keep playing, doesn’t matter. You keep eating and drinking and playing.
And there’s a pride that I think comes with it that you just keep doing it. And the more you hurt, the harder you play. It doesn’t matter, just keep playing. And no one cares how many minutes you played or how much fluid you lost, we just gotta play and play well, and that’s the plan.
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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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