Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Alanah McGinley on 05/13/08 at 01:39 PM ET
An interview with Philadelphia Flyers coach John Stevens.
Q. What can you do to get Prospal going? Have you thought even of changing the wingers on Danny’s line?
COACH STEVENS: Well, I think as a coach, you look at all situations. But to me that line has had times this year where they’ve had a lot of success. The ingredients are there. To me, it’s just in the hands of the player right now. We need Vinny to step up and be a good player for us.
The good thing about Vinny is he takes responsibility for his play. He knows he can do more, and I would expect a big game out of that line tonight.
Q. Players have nervous excitement. They hit the ice and they can play. What, from the coaching standpoint, can you do to get rid of that nervous energy that comes with preparing for a big game like this?
COACH STEVENS: Well, to me, I don’t feel like we get nervous. I think you get absorbed in the preparation. We have a sign down there that says “Confidence comes from preparation.” That’s just the way I feel.
We work hard to get our team prepared. We go over and review our own team. We look at our opponent, and review our game plan and do our best to motivate the players. So the game to me is the most exciting time. It’s what you look forward to.
Even Game 7 that we had with Washington, the fact that we had the lead in that series, we were excited about that series. Not nervous. I couldn’t believe the air of confidence our team had, and the willingness they had to embrace the challenge. So the games this time of year, that’s what’s fun and we look forward to it.
Q. Do you feel that coming from your team tonight?
COACH STEVENS: I do. I felt yesterday, we’re down 0‑2, but there wasn’t anybody moping around feeling sorry for themselves. They all know we need to play better. We’re playing a very good team. And we’re 1 of 4 teams playing.
You don’t win games this time of year unless you play your best. I thought the attitude and enthusiasm yesterday was exactly where you need to be.
Q. With losing your top defensive pairing, do you change much defensively? Or do you just continue on the status quo and let Ryan Parent and those guys fill in?
COACH STEVENS: I don’t know how much you can change right now. Other than the fact that I think we’ve all talked for a couple of days now. I think our forwards have ‑‑ admitted, I think our forwards can help do more of the work.
We have a term, “There can’t be any rest in the game.” I think that’s the case now. Your defense doesn’t just play defense. When your team doesn’t have the puck, you all play defense, and when your team has the puck, you all play offense. That is the mentality we have to have. And I think we just need more from everybody to help here.
But we’re fully confident Ryan can come in and play well. He’s an excellent defender. If anything, he’s a guy that has the skill set to come in and help us right now.
Q. Any other lineup changes besides Parent?
COACH STEVENS: No, just Ryan will come in. Obviously, Coburn is out, and everything else stays the same.
Q. Who are you going to have paired with Ryan?
COACH STEVENS: Well, I’m not sure. We may move around a little bit. I think we might start him with Smitty, and maybe get a lefty and a righty there, an experienced guy in Smitty. Probably have to ask more of everybody. Obviously, more of Modry, and Kukkonen, and Jonesy and Hatch play well together. But we’ll move them around a little bit, and let him get his feet wet and see how it goes. He’ll probably start with Smitty, and we’ll go from there.
Q. Wearing a visor is a personal issue, but as a coach, would you like to see all the players wearing them?
COACH STEVENS: Well, I actually talked to Coburn this morning. To me now, there’s so many players that have grown up with advisors. When I played Junior hockey, you didn’t have to wear a visor. We didn’t wear visors. My last year of Junior hockey, you wore one. You got so used to playing without one, you almost couldn’t wait to get it off again just because I wasn’t used to it.
But you see so many players coming into the league now that don’t know anything different. That’s all they’ve ever done is worn face protection. They’ve never played without a visor. To me, that’s a situation where you maybe like to see them leave it on. Richards and Carter, and these guys have come up, Phaneuf, there are so many players in the league that have grown up with these visors and just keep wearing them. It doesn’t affect the way they play.
I think the argument was kind of a macho thing or maybe it was too hot in the building. I think the way the buildings are cooled off now it is less of an issue. Steve Downie wanted to take his off here, and I asked him why. Why do you want to take it off. You have a good reason. And three days later you got hit between the eyes with the puck. So, we’re in the same situation as Coburn.
So, to me, it doesn’t matter what you do. Visor is just another thing that if you’re not going to wear one, I’d like to know a good reason why you’re not going to wear one. If there is a good reason, we’ll live by it. If you’re growing up with it, you’re used to it. It doesn’t affect your level of play, ability to see or the fact that you’re getting hot. It’s not a bad idea to wear one.
Q. Even though Braydon can’t play, just having him around here today letting everybody know he’s okay, and it’s not going to be a long‑term injury, does that give confidence or a boost to the team also?
COACH STEVENS: Yeah, to the team and to Coby. I think the worst thing about being hurt is you’re immediately removed from the mix of playing the game and being with your teammates.
So the fact that he’s here today is as good for him as it is for us. I think we’re all relieved to hear that his eye’s okay. There’s no fracture to the bones around the eye. And then hopefully have a speedy recovery. So it’s a very good sign from all fronts in terms of his injury.
Q. Danny and Mike stressed the importance of getting traffic in front of Marc‑Andre Fleury. What has Pittsburgh been doing to limit your opportunities in front of him to get that traffic?
COACH STEVENS: Well, we’ve gotten there. We’ve had good chances. The goals we’ve scored, we’ve got people at the net. But we’re kind of a broken record here. But we need to do more of managing the hockey puck. If you don’t get through the neutral zone, and you don’t have clean breakouts at your end, you don’t spend as much time on offense as long as you should.
We’ve been a good team of getting the net on the rush, and getting the net in the zone. If you don’t manage the puck better, you don’t spend enough time in the offensive zone, And that is the one big area. I think we’re all aware of it.
But you can’t just look at us. They’ve done a good job. Their forwards do a lot of work, and their “D” play responsible type of game where they protect inside the dots. So it’s up to us to get our feet moving, get that puck through the neutral zone, and get people to the net.
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