Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Alanah McGinley on 05/06/08 at 04:57 PM ET
Today, the NHL hosted a NHL conference call making Detroit Red Wings center Henrik Zetterberg available for questions. In ten post-season games Henrik has recorded seven goals and six assists for 13 points, scored two game-winners and leads the league with a plus 10 plus/minus rating.
Transcript from the Q&A is below.
Q. Could you talk a little bit about the chemistry between you and Datsyuk specifically, but also with Homer as well. A lot of good players have difficulty playing with each other, but you have had a chemistry almost from the beginning. Talk about what each of you does that sort of makes this line work very well.
HENRIK ZETTERBERG: I think ever since the start, we enjoying playing with each other. You know, from our first year, I played with Pavel and Brett Hull basically the whole year. Ever since from then, I’ve been playing with Pavel most of my games here. It’s been working great. We like to play the same style of hockey.
I think Homer, you know, it’s a real great mix for us because he creates a lot of room for us and gives us that extra second to make the right play. And also he’s always in front of the goalie to screen the goalie for us. Both me and Pavel doesn’t have the greatest shot, but it makes it easier when Homer is in front.
Q. Can you talk a little bit, too, about the fact that both you and Pavel are Selke finalists. You generally don’t see the top offensive players also among the top defensive players. Is that something that comes naturally to you or has that come along as you’ve gotten in the NHL?
HENRIK ZETTERBERG: I think it’s always been part of my game. Growing up as a centerman in Sweden, that’s a big part of your game, and you take a lot of pride in it. I think it’s been like that ever since I started playing hockey.
I just enjoying playing, you know, defensive hockey, too.
Q. Could you talk about Johan Franzen, the playoffs that he’s having.
HENRIK ZETTERBERG: He’s been really important for us. He’s been playing great. I think it all started when Holmstrom went down in the regular season. He started to score a lot of goals. He’s just been keep going, you know, now in the playoffs. He’s a big body, but he’s really skilled, too. He’s always making the right play right now. He’s got a lot of confidence. It’s great to see the puck go in for him.
Q. What did you take from the Dallas/San Jose series in the bit that you watched?
HENRIK ZETTERBERG: I didn’t watch that much. But, you know, they’re both—they were both two good teams. They played a good series. It was a high-pace series, but I think Dallas was the better team. They deserved to go through to the conference final.
Q. When the team lost 10 games back in February, what things were said among the players and coaches in an attempt to turn things around?
HENRIK ZETTERBERG: Oh, we just need to, you know, start playing good hockey. We had some tough injuries on our defense, and that for sure didn’t help us out. We just need to get back on track. And I think we did. Then we got some more bodies back into the lineup. I think that made us a little bit stronger.
Q. Are you happy to have the six days to recuperate until the Conference Finals? What is your feeling? Do you feel it’s too long of a layoff?
HENRIK ZETTERBERG: I think it’s perfect. We had a few days off. We didn’t have to see each other, you know, for a few days. You know, we spent a lot of time with the family, could rest and recoup your body. Now we’ve had some good practices here and we’re ready to go on Thursday.
Q. What kind of pressure is off of you with a guy like Johan Franzen picking up some scoring slack? Does that relieve pressure on you?
HENRIK ZETTERBERG: I think in the playoffs you need to spread around the scoring a little bit and you need to have especially secondary scoring. The line with Franzen, Filppula and Samuelsson has really been good for us. They’ve been really good in power-play and five-on-five.
So if you want to go deep in the playoffs, you have to have a good depth, and we have been having that so far, and hopefully we’ll continue doing that.
Q. Speaking of that, looks like Coach Babcock could put all four lines out at any time he feels comfortable. What do you think of that?
HENRIK ZETTERBERG: That’s true. As I said, we’ve got good depth in our team. All of our lines can play against basically anyone, so it makes it a lot easier for coach to make his decision.
Q. Just wanted to get your thoughts. I know you kind of have a rock star persona back in Sweden, but do you think you get the recognition you deserve over here?
HENRIK ZETTERBERG: Yeah. I think, you know, it’s—I mean, I’m playing hockey, and that’s my job. I like doing that here. It’s a great town to do that. I think I get the recognition that I deserve.
Q. How about being a seventh-round draft pick? Do you ever find yourself wondering what took so long for somebody to come along and select you?
HENRIK ZETTERBERG: No, I’m not the biggest guy now. But I was even smaller the time on my draft year. So it wasn’t that. You know, I was happy that I got drafted. I didn’t speak to a lot of teams. I think it was the Red Wings and maybe one other team that showed interest. I was really surprised and happy when Joakim Andersson called me and told me that I was drafted.
Q. Can you pinpoint what has made the Red Wings so strong throughout the playoffs? How does this team handle the heavy favorite label going into the series with Dallas?
HENRIK ZETTERBERG: I would say it all started last year. We had a really good playoff run last year, and we kept the core guys. We made some great additions for this year. We’ve been playing great all the way from the start.
You know, we just kept going here in the playoffs. I think the depth, you know, is a key part for the success with all the four lines. We’re playing good. But to keep doing that, we have to make the right decisions out there and play smart. Dallas is a good team. If we’re not playing at our best, we will not win the series.
Q. Do you in the dressing room think because of how consistent your team has been the past several years if you are constantly underappreciated in terms of prognosticating, picking different teams coming into the playoffs? Do you think your team wasn’t given quite the right look coming into this year’s playoffs?
HENRIK ZETTERBERG: I don’t think we pay that much attention of what other media says or what, you know, the experts are saying. We know we have a good team and we know we got, you know, a good chance of going deep. You know, we’ve been showing that the first two rounds, that we’re a good hockey club. We just have to keep going here next round and, you know, keep playing good hockey. If we do that, we gonna succeed.
Q. There’s a lot of teams in this playoffs that have been trying to go with young goalies, rookie goalies. Some have done well; others have been eliminated. From your standpoint, how nice is it to know you have two solid, experienced, winning goaltenders you can turn to at any time for a big save as the case may be?
HENRIK ZETTERBERG: It’s really nice to have that experience in the goaltending. We know that they have been around. They both have won before, will not get rattled in tough situations.
You know, it makes it a lot easier for us knowing that we have a good goalie. It makes it easier for us to play good hockey when we know that Ossi and Dom are playing really good back there.
Q. Could you talk a little bit about the changes you might have seen in Coach Babcock since you first started to play for him. Is he a different guy? If he is, in what way?
HENRIK ZETTERBERG: You know what, I think he’s trusting us a little bit more this year than last year. I think he knows what kind of players we are and how we can play hockey. You know, he’s really intense. He really wants to win. And I think the coaching staff is really well-prepared. To have that as a player, it makes it a lot easier for us to get ready for games.
Q. I don’t want to suggest he’s gone soft, but is he maybe less hard on you guys now than in the past or is that sort of level of intensity always constant?
HENRIK ZETTERBERG: Well, it’s pretty constant. He’s tough on us. You know, maybe when we’re playing good, he knows that we can play good. But if we’re playing bad, he really lets us know. It’s been some tough skating this year in the practices when we’ve been playing bad. And, you know, the expectation’s really high here. I think that’s the way it’s supposed to be. We got a good team. And I think Babcock is a good fit for our club.
Q. At this point last year you were in the Conference Finals, too. It seemed to me your defense was decimated by injuries. Without wanting to jinx you on that front, are you better prepared health-wise and rest-wise going forward this year compared to all those key bodies you had missing at this time last year?
HENRIK ZETTERBERG: Well, last year we lost Kronwall and Schneider, two of the top three. And it’s tough to have success then. So far it’s been good. You know, so knock on wood here, but you have to be healthy. You know, that’s a big part of it. If you want to go deep, you got to have luck and you got to be healthy.
It’s halfway point here, and so far it’s been good.
Q. What concerns you most about the Dallas Stars’ lineup?
HENRIK ZETTERBERG: Well, you know, they made some good additions in their trading deadline. Richard’s line has been really good for them in the playoffs. They have real good depth also. So now Zubov is back, too. He looks healthy and is playing good.
They got a good team. As I said before, we have to play at our best to have a chance to win.
Q. A lot of people are talking about the Eastern Conference final as a lot of bad blood between the Flyers and Penguins. Do you see that sort of thing coming out of this series with the Stars?
HENRIK ZETTERBERG: You know, we haven’t played them in a while in playoffs. So it’s going to be fun for us to play, you know, another club. It’s going to be fun for the fans I think to see a different team coming in and play some playoff hockey.
But for sure it’s going to be tough and there’s going to be some bad blood before this is over.
Q. Henrik, obviously the Dallas Stars have had a tremendous run, but nonetheless had someone told you before the playoffs that the Red Wings could have a route towards the Cup final that would include not facing Anaheim or San Jose, would you have taken that?
HENRIK ZETTERBERG: You know, of course you thought if you were going all the way to the finals, you would see at least one of those teams. But, you know, it’s been a different look this year in the playoffs. We’ve been playing some teams we haven’t done in a while. It’s been fun for us. It’s been fun for the fans.
Q. You talked a little bit about expectations before. What is it like in this time of year in Detroit? What are the expectations for you and what do you sense from the outside media and the fans?
HENRIK ZETTERBERG: You know, we’re going for the Cup. You know, that’s the same as every year. If you don’t go all the way, we will not be happy. That’s the expectations that are in this town.
As a player, you know that and you like it. You rather have that than, you know, the fans are happy just to make the playoffs.
Q. In the Nashville series it seemed like when you got a lead, you went back into a shell trying not to be scored on, and that didn’t work. How did you change things up in the second round against Colorado in that sense?
HENRIK ZETTERBERG: We had to, you know, stay a little composure, you know. Especially when we got scored on, we got a little rattled in the Nashville series. They came back and scored another one every game basically against us. We had to play 60-minute games. I think we started doing that when we played against the Avalanche. You have to do that. If you let off a little bit, you know, the other teams will take advantage of it. So you have to play good and you have to make the bad periods in your game as short as possible.
Q. You have an ex linemate on the Dallas side now in the front office. Do you keep in touch with him? Have you talked about the series at all with Brett Hull?
HENRIK ZETTERBERG: No, I haven’t seen him yet. I haven’t said anything to him. It would be for sure fun to have a chat with him when I see him.
Q. In terms of matching up with Dallas, you obviously have four lines that can come on the ice any time and score goals, but you also, like was mentioned before, yourself and Pavel being Selke candidates, can shut down when that’s needed. How nice is it to know that any four of your lines can really match up with any four of theirs?
HENRIK ZETTERBERG: I think it makes it a lot easier for the coaching staff to coach a game.
But I think also Dallas had the same—basically the same setup. They have four good lines that can play against anyone. It’s going to be interesting to see how the matchups, how a big part of game it will be or if we’re basically we’re just going to floor all lines.
Q. Are you looking forward to taking advantage of the fact they’re coming off a hard, long-fought series they played over two games in Game 6? Are you looking forward of taking advantage of the fact they may be tired coming into Game 1?
HENRIK ZETTERBERG: I think they still have a few days here they can recoup and get their energy back. They are professional athletes. They’re well-trained. So, you know, this is what we do. I don’t think that will affect them that much.
Q. Just wondering what the strategy is like facing Marty Turco, how he plays the puck in his own zone.
HENRIK ZETTERBERG: Well, we know he likes to play the puck, so we just have to keep the puck away from him. You know, at the same time, when we’re taking the shots, try to have a lot of people in front of him and screen the goalie and tip in pucks to make it a little more difficult for him to see the puck and make plays.
Q. Does it also affect line changes with his ability to pass the puck all the way to the other blueline?
HENRIK ZETTERBERG: He’s our defenseman out there. When you’re dumping the puck, you want to keep it away from him. If we do that, we’ll be okay.
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