Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Alanah McGinley on 05/06/08 at 06:21 PM ET
Yet another NHL teleconference today featured Dallas Stars goaltender Marty Turco, who has posted and 8-4 record with a sparkling .173 goals-against average, and Dallas captain Brenden Morrow, who has recorded seven goals and four assists for 11 points in 12 games, including two overtime game winners in the series win over San Jose last round.
Here is the transcript of their Q&A.
Q. Marty, you’re just fresh off winning two incredible series and beating two fellow great goalies. I see right off the bat that people are already asking you about your record at Joe Louis. There’s no time to breathe. What do you make of that? Does it mean anything?
MARTY TURCO: Well, I’m glad you assume I’m fresh. You’re a good guy (laughter). Marathon game the other night.
Yeah, just talked about it here with our local media. As someone said, makes a great story line about you and the Wings and Joe Louis and your record. I said, Well, I’m not a reporter, I don’t write. So do whatever the hell you guys want.
You know, there’s not anything that has done in the past, positive or negative, that really affects you going into the playoffs that eventually really matters at the end of time. Our focus and everyone playing this time of year, it’s all about your next save, your next shift, the next game. You know, I’m certainly no different.
In preparing to play now against anybody anywhere, rink, pond, day or night, it doesn’t matter. It’s all about preparing to do so. I’ve always known in the back of my mind playing these guys and having a lack of success, I always knew it hasn’t happened in the playoffs, and that would be the ultimate test to see where you stand. So to say the least, I’m looking forward to it.
Q. Brenden, what do you think of Marty’s play so far in these playoffs, especially given a lot of the criticism that your teammate has taken over the years?
BRENDEN MORROW: Well, we got a good dose of it last year. Unfortunately, we didn’t give him enough support against Vancouver to find him those goals to see how far that would have taken us. He’s had us on his back for two rounds here. It’s been real fun to watch. He’s been spectacular in making the hard saves look easy for us for a long time. It’s been a lot of fun to watch.
Q. Marty, you alluded to the marathon games you’ve been playing in. How is that for you? How do you feel right now? Does it give you enough time to prepare for Thursday night?
MARTY TURCO: You know, I feel great. Yeah, it’s like playing back-to-back games from a conditioning standpoint. Have to do it is in such quick time. Yesterday I know there were a few guys didn’t sleep as long as they would have liked. Got up with the mind wandering, the body aching a little bit. This morning was reality a little bit more, a little extra stiffness than most mornings.
For the most part understanding just playing that game physically, mentally, realizing that, I know for me and our group, we’ve been doing the right things off the ice to prepare for those games. For being not till Thursday, seems like there might be one extra day off that we’d like to get back at it. But we understand it’s the scheduling of it all.
That game really, from a conditioning or physical standpoint, isn’t going to pose a problem, maybe than guys getting injured in overtime. That’s in any case with any playoff time game. It really wasn’t too bad. I think at the end of it, I weighed out, only lost a few pounds. It was quite encouraging.
Q. Brenden, with your play here in the playoffs, you played great on the road, what do you attribute that to?
BRENDEN MORROW: Well, I think when we keep things simple, we’ve talked about it all year, our forecheck is a lot of our success, getting after pucks, creating turnovers, not trying to do too many cute things. That’s simple road hockey. We’ve been fortunate enough. If you look at it that way, we’re starting our first two games on the road, you have the mindset of going in and stealing the game. We’ve been doing a good job of just focusing 60 minutes at that time, working on approaching it the same way in Detroit.
Q. If I could get you both to respond. You both have sort of grown up or watched Dave Tippett grow as an NHL coach. Is he any different this spring than in the past, his demeanor, the tactical element of things, if he’s a different guy to be around or whether he’s been pretty consistent throughout?
BRENDEN MORROW: I think he’s been pretty consistent. Winning kind of relieves a lot of that pressure you may get around this time. We’re kind of reaping the benefits of all his hard work - actually everyone’s hard work now.
I don’t think his tactics have really changed. The Stars, our system has been kind of the same since I’ve been a part of the team in 2000. There’s been some tweaks here and there, but the strength of our team is still our checking, our goaltending, our defending, trying to capitalize on mistakes. And that’s been bred into us from Hitchcock’s days and Tipp’s carried them through. I don’t think his tactics, demeanor or attitude has really changed; it’s just we’ve had some success lately.
MARTY TURCO: From my perspective, he has been very consistent. I think that’s part of the belief system we’ve had. Despite our disappointments as an organization, coaching staff and players, knowing that we thought and believed we were doing the right things in order to win, despite not doing that, we all could have played a little bit better, maybe done a few extra things. In the end of it, we’ve always concerned ourselves with doing the right things in order to win.
When you don’t win, you got to take a look in the mirror, second guess a little bit. But at the end of the day, we all believed we were doing the right things. Not till now we are reaping the rewards of it all. That’s part of belief system we had over the years in order to get us to this point.
I can say he’s been a little more energetic right before the games, a little more jittery - not jittery, but we see some emotion, coming into the locker room, giving a last-minute pump-up speech. His excitement transcends down through the rest of our group and it’s all been great for us so far.
Q. When the GM change came, that was kind of a strange situation for everybody. Brenden, did you know coach at this particular time change at all? Did he let that affect him? Did he keep whatever was going on in the front office out of the locker room?
BRENDEN MORROW: Yeah, I think he did a great job if there was extra pressure on him, the pressure was gone, he just kind of went about business as usual and kept things behind closed doors and didn’t bring any of that into the locker room. I think we all sensed a little bit of I don’t know if you want to say relief, but things weren’t going great for us at the time. We knew a change was going to be happening, if it was personnel, player-wise, management, coach, we didn’t know at what level. And I think when the change was made, it happened to be the GM, maybe guys, it was a slap in the face, the wake-up call they all needed, it wasn’t them. We grew as a team. We grew together. We bonded. We went out and we did some real good things.
That could be a big turning point in our season.
Q. His demeanor or tactics didn’t change at all from that point?
MARTY TURCO: No.
BRENDEN MORROW: I don’t think so.
MARTY TURCO: His tactics didn’t change. It wasn’t our philosophy and how to play the game, our system or his approach to the leaders, the young guys was wrong. It’s just that we weren’t playing well. We all took it personally, you know. When you make a change at the top, when you make a change up there, it falls down on everybody. As players, we talked about it, knowing that this wasn’t just a quick decision and things were going to be status quo.
But our belief in the way we played in each other kind of grew. We realized we had to trust each other and do it together from that point on, that you know all eyes and focus were going to be on us. That stemmed from the coaches right to us and to the leaders. We knew that it was a serious situation, but we also understood that we needed just to all pick it up. We have since that point.
Q. Marty, what do you think about Johan Franzen’s performance against Colorado? Is the hope this layoff will allow time for him to cool off?
MARTY TURCO: Yeah, certainly he has been pumping the goals in with quite regularity. Everybody’s taken notice of him scoring the goals. But we’ve talked a lot here about how he’s scoring and what you can do. He’s got great net presence. But his skill has always been underrated.
Their willingness just as a team to get to the net, you know, is important, especially this time of year. So that’s going to be, you know, a factor in this series, the ability to battle in front and for me to see pucks, find them and anticipate quite often.
We don’t expect anybody over there from Detroit to cool down. We expect their best. We look forward to that type challenge.
Q. Brenden, have you ever had as many hits or been in such a physical test as that last game? Could you describe how your body felt after the game physically, not the emotional part of it.
BRENDEN MORROW: No, I haven’t been through a game—that was actually over two games. It felt like it was two games’ worth of hitting. Body was a little drained yesterday. Every time you got down in the chair, it was pretty tough getting up. Just losing all those fluids, aches and pains. They’ve gone away from yesterday to today, though.
It was grueling playing that many minutes, trying to play the same way, play physical. It took its toll. But it was well worth it.
Q. Do you plan to use your physical style of play against the Wings to get them off their game, like the Ducks did to the Red Wings last year?
BRENDEN MORROW: That’s a big part of our game, is our forecheck, playing physical. It’s tough to get a good lick on Lidstrom or Rafalski. They’re pretty good puck movers.
Our plan is to attack, get pucks in areas where we can force turnovers, get some pressure on them. It’s everyone. It’s finishing checks on Zetterberg, trying to get in people’s way, slow ‘em down a little bit. Yeah, that’s going to be our focus against this team.
Q. Marty, can you talk about maybe one of your favorite memories playing at Joe Louis as a collegiate player?
MARTY TURCO: Yeah, I got a lot of fond memories from Joe Louis in my college days (laughter).
You know, there’s a whole bunch that stand out. I think one of my first CCHA championship game there, you’re going to test me here, I think it was against Lake Superior State, may have been an overtime win. I played there 20 plus times in college. It’s just such a great environment all the time to see, you know, the maze of blue, or playing Michigan State, the green and white in the crowd. We played regularly against Lake Superior State, too, a city where I’m close to from, and the UP.
You know, it’s got a lot of great memories for me, not just the disappointing ones in the NHL. To draw on experiences from all areas of my career, you know, you’re going to do that. But I’m really looking forward to going back there and looking to have some more success.
Q. Maybe jumping the gun a little bit on this one. Marty, could you make a case for why Brenden should be considered? Brenden, do the same for Marty, considering the two of you have been pretty much carrying your team or at least playing a big part in that as far as you’ve gotten.
MARTY TURCO: Well, for the record, I get 10% of all things Brenden makes from here on out, now that I’m his agent (laughter).
No, you know, to start, we’re halfway home with what we set out to do every year. But, you know, this year we got eight wins, going to the third round of the playoffs, we got just as much if in the more work and challenges to complete. But certainly Brenden at this point has been obviously our leader on the ice, but people don’t realize the leader he is off the ice. You know, his physical play, his ability to play the game consistently every shift, with a dominant level that his line has been providing us has been so important as a catalyst for the rest of our lines to get out there and try to match that intensity and competitive play at both ends of the ice.
What he does is demand the puck, demand to be good and make his next shift the best one possible. To say it’s contagious is an understatement. It’s something that we’re going to continue to need from him and from everybody else to follow suit. You know, it’s one thing to say things in the locker room as a leader, to inspire and try to encourage players, but it’s another thing to get out there and actually do it and watch players follow without having to say a word.
He’s been our consummate leader for us. In order to be successful, he’s going to have to continue to do that. I know firsthand that he’s gonna be there. We just need everybody else to continue to follow suit.
Q. Brenden, just talk about the dynamic Brad Richards has brought to the room since the trade, and maybe getting that extra goal you didn’t get against Vancouver last year.
BRENDEN MORROW: Yeah, he’s kind of one of those opportunistic guys that we probably have been lacking in the past, kind of sniffs out a mistake. One opportunity, he’ll make you pay for it. Management brought us in that guy, gave us that opportunity, and he’s made our depth a lot stronger. We look at series, the ones in the past, and we feel like we have three good scoring lines. He’s centering with Mike Modano and Ribeiro. It’s just a real good fit. He’s come in short-term, gotten to adjust to the team, gotten to know his teammates, and he brings that experience. That’s something that our young guys with our young group here, we have all learned from that, and to have that experience here has been huge for us.
Q. Going into Detroit your first two series, you were able to take the first two games on the other team’s home ice. What has been the strategy to take away some of the crowd momentum the other team might gain from Game 1 home ice advantage?
BRENDEN MORROW: I don’t know what our strategy is to take away crowd noise. Our strategy is 60 minutes at a time. We don’t look at going in, taking two games. It’s one at a time. We’ve done a good job I think. In the Anaheim series, our special teams was huge. We got a couple power play opportunities and made them play. San Jose, they were more disciplined. They were actually the team, they got their power plays and maybe the kills that we got, we fed off of that and quieted the crowd from that point of view, too.
Every series is different. Every team is different. We’re just gonna try and play to our strengths, get pucks deep, try to finish some checks, see where the chips fall.
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