Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Alanah McGinley on 05/31/08 at 12:55 PM ET
Q. Would you like to get the obstruction stuff out of the way first, before I ask my…
COACH MICHEL THERRIEN: (Laughter) I said what I had to say yesterday, so let’s move on (Laughter.)
Q. You said the first couple of games nervousness could have been an issue with your team. Do you sense going on in the series that’s less and less the case, and do you think that will be less the case tonight?
COACH MICHEL THERRIEN: Absolutely. And it’s part of the process with a young team. And the more the series goes on, the more we’re going to feel comfortable and we’re going to be better.
And we got better every game. Our focus gets better every game. And tonight I’m expecting we’re going to play ‑ we played a good game, Game 3, but tonight I’m expecting we’re going to be better as well.
Q. Sid got it going in Game 3. How important is it that your second line, Malkin and Sykora, find the score sheet?
COACH MICHEL THERRIEN: I thought Malkin played a good game last time. You can’t only judge about results. I thought he was gaining a lot more, generate some offense. We saw more ‑ Malkin played the way he is capable to play in the last game, compared to the first two games. That’s a good sign. For him, too, it’s a process. This is all brand new for him. And it’s a lot to demand for those young kids. And it’s a lot of pressure.
It’s totally different than the regular season, and it’s totally different than the first round we saw in the playoffs. But I like the way he played last game, so he’s going in the right direction. That’s a good sign.
Q. You mixed your lines up pretty good last game. Threw some different looks at Mike Babcock. Could you talk about, first of all, the challenge for you as a coach when the guys know when to jump on, because you’re mixing it up a little bit, and also what you think that does to the other coach when he sees different combinations coming out there on the ice?
COACH MICHEL THERRIEN: You know what, it’s more about us to make sure that we got a fresh player on the ice. You want to play with momentum, you need to have fresh players. When you feel you need to get some momentum or physical aspect, like we could put Gary Roberts, he played last game. He played some shifts with Sid. He played some shifts with Malkin. He played some shifts with Jordan Staal. And I like to do that, especially with a guy like that, he can bring a lot of intensity.
So it’s not about them. It’s about us and to make sure we maintain a good pace.
Q. Could you talk a little bit about Darryl Sydor having been out for almost two months, then having a really solid game for you guys on Wednesday. Do you think that’s a testament to his playoff experience?
COACH MICHEL THERRIEN: There’s no doubt. And he’s been there before. And I thought he played really well. Like he told me, his first shift he was pretty nervous. Even if he has a lot of experience, haven’t played for a while, but he’s got such a great attitude, that he’s always prepared himself really well, even at that time he was not playing.
So a lot of credit to him. And we like his composure. We like ‑ he’s really positive in the dressing room. He’s really positive on the bench with the players. So there’s no doubt that this time of the year we need experience like Darryl Sydor.
Q. What is it about this building that you guys have so much success here, you haven’t lost since February?
COACH MICHEL THERRIEN: You know what, you want to have any type of success with a team, I think playing home game is crucial. And early in the season we had a hard time to put together some quality games at home. And we addressed that with our team.
And since then we really picked it up. We feel confidence when we come here. It’s like, I don’t know, the players, they feel from the crowd and they play with a lot of energy. It seems like they’re focused.
It’s a different challenge when you go on the road. And the Red Wings, too, played well in their building. They’re a tough place to play and this is a tough place to play. They lost only one game in their building. Turco was outstanding.
And it’s a challenge for any team to play on the road, especially when you play a team that played really well at home.
Q. As well as nerves at the beginning of the series, was there also an element of surprise, the fact that you just hadn’t seen these guys and you didn’t know exactly what they could do, other than just what you saw on film, but now, three games in, that surprise factor may not be there anymore?
COACH MICHEL THERRIEN: We start to know those guys a little bit better, and we start to feel comfortable playing against those guys, too, as well.
But every time you’re facing a new challenge, like our team last year, we played Ottawa in the first round, and that was for 16 of those players first time to play in an NHL playoff. And they were nervous. They were not the same like the regular season. And that’s a process.
It’s normal. And when we start the playoff, the NHL Final against the Red Wings, the first game, a lot of the guys was nervous. Probably more than I was expecting, because things was going very well for us. I thought our confidence was there.
But still there’s a process to go with young players. And you can’t deny that. So more like I said, the more the series will go on and we’re going to feel confidence to play those games. We know we can play against that team, and if we stick to our plan, if our work ethic is there and our concentration that we were supposed to play is there, we’ll give ourselves a chance to win.
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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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