Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Alanah McGinley on 05/12/08 at 02:33 PM ET
An interview today with Pittsburgh Penguins coach Michel Therrien.
Q. Can you describe the conversation you had with Georges Laraque after the end of last year when you told him what you wanted him to be like physically, and what role in order to fulfill a role here?
COACH THERRIEN: Well, if there’s someone who knows Georges really well, it’s me, because I coached Georges in Juniors. I know what he’s capable of. We won a Memorial Cup together. He was an impact player on our team. That was a guy that we were looking to bring to our club. I thought we really did a great job to bring Georges in, but the Georges Laraque that I saw last year was not the Georges Laraque that I knew.
I told him at the end of the year that he needs to be in much better shape. He could be an impact player, and he took care of himself over the summer. Reported in great shape, and got a great season as far as I’m concerned.
He’s capable of playing, he’s capable of a forecheck. And guys like that are always going to bring some respect from your own team and I’m more than satisfied with the way Georges handled himself this year compared to last year.
Q. What kind of message does it send when you have not only does that line score the winning goal, you have them out there towards the end of the game? Georges said he may not have ever been out in a close game that late in the game in the playoffs. But what kind of message does it send not just to them, but the rest of the team that you have that kind of confidence in that line to have them out at crucial times during a crucial playoff game?
COACH THERRIEN: You know, I think we try to have a team affair. Guys have their roles. But I think it’s important at times to show trust. And even the players on the bench. We were pleased to see those guys go on the ice. Especially after they scored the winning goal, they deserved to be there.
I thought that was the right thing to do for the team spirit. And I’m glad they did the job. They scored a winning goal. They played well defensively in the last shift, and it’s important that everybody’s got a role. And everybody’s got to contribute, not only offensively, but defensively as well.
Q. Were you able to speak with the supervising official yet about Ruutu, and if so, do you think your points were heard and understood?
COACH THERRIEN: I didn’t get a chance to talk to anyone yet. You know, I read some comments about John Stevens, about how he’s disappointed about some calls. But at the same time, we’re disappointed about some calls as well. Jarkko Ruutu got punched in the face, by Hartnell, we should have been a five-on-three, and that could have been a turning point in the game. We didn’t get those calls. So that’s playoffs. There are times you’re going to get a call, there’s times you’re not going to get a call.
It’s not about complaining. It’s about playing the game. You hope to get the calls. It doesn’t happen all the time, and what are you going to do? But one thing, Jarkko Ruutu is doing everything that I ask him to do. He’s playing well defensively. He’s checking well, he’s finishing his checks, and he’s disciplined. He doesn’t retaliate. There is time he spent time in the penalty box, I don’t know why. Like yesterday he got punched twice, and he spent some time in the box and it’s not his fault. So what are you going to do?
You’ve got to move on, and hopefully if he keeps playing the same way, he’ll get rewarded. But it’s not about complaining. They’re complaining. We could complain as well.
Q. So you’re not going to even bother trying to get in touch with the supervisor?
COACH THERRIEN: Well, I’m going to ask them questions. I can’t wait to talk to them. It’s a travel day today. I’m sure that before Game 3, we’ll have a chance to sit down with the supervisor and ask some questions. But what are you going to do? Referees try to call what they see, and I believe they try to make the best calls of their ability. But it’s not about complaining. Because you could complain all the time, and that’s not the purpose of it.
Let’s make sure that the players are playing. Let’s make sure the players are playing hard. To the best of their ability, and let’s play the game.
Q. How have you been able to contain Daniel Briere’s line? Is it just as simple as putting the Staal line out and Gonchar or is there something that you’ve been able to do to shut it down?
COACH THERRIEN: Well, it’s not an easy thing to do. They’ve got a lot of skill. And one thing, Gonchar is doing a fantastic job. Like Gonchar yesterday, picking up three assists, playing so solid defensively. He’s been doing that for a long time for us. Last night I thought he was phenomenal and deserved more credit than he receives right now.
This is a guy that always goes under the radar. He’s a good leader in that dressing room. He’s a good leader on the ice, and he’s capable to shut down the best player on the other team. I thought yesterday he did a fantastic job.
Q. What have you done so well on the road in the playoffs and what do you expect tomorrow night’s atmosphere to be like?
COACH THERRIEN: Every game is a challenge. No matter where you are, whether you’re at home or on the road. On the road is a different challenge. We’ve been in that position in the playoffs. We won two games at home, we go there, and we know the other team’s going to be desperate. It’s about concentrating on the things we should do to be successful. It’s not concentrating too much on the other team. It’s not concentrating on the crowd. We’ve got to make sure we’re focused.
This is a young team that matured really quickly through the course of the season and through the course of last year to this year. But we’ve got to focus and think that we can control, and the most important thing is how we play.
We understand tomorrow is going to be a good challenge. Good challenge to everyone. That’s not an easy place to play. Well, you know what, Madison Square Garden, that was not an easy place to play, and the guys did a great job. So, we’re going to be—we’re going to have to be having another good game. Because, you know, so far in the playoffs we’re playing pretty solid and we’ll have to be solid again.
Q. What specifically do you need to see better from your team tomorrow night?
COACH THERRIEN: As far as I’m concerned this is a good group. They’re young. They always want to get better. But as far as I’m concerned, we’re pretty solid. You know, we’re 10-1 in the playoffs. That’s pretty good. A pretty good record. We all know that in the playoffs, the game is demanding. We’ve got to fight for every inch on the ice.
Hey, momentum will swing during games. But that’s the playoffs. We play against a good team. There’s four teams left in the NHL, that means every team deserves to be here, and the Flyers are a good team. There is going to be time during the game at home or on the road, they’re going to get some momentum. And we’re going to get some momentum as well.
But as far as I’m concerned, we played pretty soiled so far. We’re going to need to play another solid game on the road.
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