Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 05/18/08 at 08:49 PM ET
Q. Your team was so powerful these playoffs. Did you think, coming in after learning in only four games last year that, you could put together a run like you put together this one?
COACH THERRIEN: You always approach the playoff with a lot of confidence. And the confidence that we had is the way that we’ve been finishing the year the last two months I thought we played some great hockey.
Not only offensively, but defensively, too, as well. The way Marc‑Andre Fleury was playing, too. There was no doubt that we were approaching every single game with a lot of confidence. But to be quite honest, when we start the playoffs, we’re not thinking about the Stanley Cup final. Our main focus was on the first round, and that was our philosophy with that young group.
I’m not a big fan to look on top of the mountain when there’s a lot of steps to be made. And the next one, it’s another step.
Q. Can you talk about your team’s ability to finish, especially after such a tough game in Philadelphia on the other night?
COACH THERRIEN: Well, we didn’t play our best game. We didn’t deserve to win that game. And for the first half of the game I don’t think we were sharp. Our focus was not there. But we finished a game like we’re supposed to play.
We brought momentum today. We approach it with the team, and I thought today we set the tone right from the start. We deserved to win. 95 percent of those games we played so hard in the playoff it’s about deserving, and those guys deserved to win most of those hockey games with the result we got.
Today it was not any difference. I thought we set the tone. We were really sharp offensively. We concentrate well defensively. When there were a few breakdowns, Fleury was outstanding.
Q. Was there an approximate point where you didn’t have to keep harping the system and selling the system, where you and the staff realized, hey, they’re getting it, they’re playing the way we want them to play, we’ve kind of turned the corner here?
COACH THERRIEN: Well, since day one, we’ve been working with those guys. We’ve been teaching them the way that we think that we’re going to have success. And they buy into it. They believe in it. And they know when they execute what we’re supposed to do, we get a chance to get success. That goes from your leaders, when your leaders buy into it, the rest will follow.
And their leaders, there’s no doubt that they’re buying into the way we’re supposed to play.
Q. Given that you have your series done right now, how big an advantage is it with Dallas and Detroit still going at it right now?
COACH THERRIEN: Well, we’re going to have extra days to rest. And we all know that’s really demanding to play playoff hockey.
Whoever we’re going to play against, one thing we know we’re going to play against a good hockey team. But we figure we’re a good hockey team as well, too.
So the next few days, like tomorrow’s a day off and we’ll see what’s going to be the result tomorrow night. We’re not quite sure yet when we’re going to start the next round, the final. But one thing I know we’re going to be well prepared.
Q. Would you describe your and your team’s lack of finals experience a liability?
COACH THERRIEN: We don’t have much experience. But we compensate with a lot of things. We compensate with passion. We play a mature game for a young team. When you put those two together, then this is a team who wants to learn. And they’re ready to learn and they are making those sacrifices to learn.
And we’re coming from a long way. And short the amount of experience we got last year gave a lot of confidence to the players. They know what they were expecting when we started the playoffs. And I believe Ray Shero did a great job. We’re missing some piece of the puzzle, the trading deadline. It was crucial for us. And all those three guys that we brought in, they really buy in right away to the team concept and with the result that we got.
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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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