Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 06/07/09 at 01:25 PM ET
Q. I was curious, were you in the building last year in Game 6 when the Wings won the Cup?
COACH BYLSMA: I was not. We were in our own playoff battle with Wilkes?Barre in Chicago.
Q. Do you have a sense of what that was like for the players on this team who were here to watch the Wings win a championship in this building? And does that have any bearing on what you do between now and Tuesday night?
COACH BYLSMA: I don’t have a sense, other than it happening in ‘03, when we were in Game 7. We were on the road. It wasn’t our home building. But I can remember vividly, too vividly, what it’s like to have the clock ticking down and the other team. We were down 3?0 in the game in New Jersey.
So then to have the pomp and circumstance afterwards. So I do know what that is like personally. But that’s playoff hockey. You’re faced with elimination games and you’re faced with them on the road and at home sometimes. How you deal with them, and the focus you can have on playing your game largely dictates how those games unfold. And some teams rise to the occasion, some teams relish in that pressure and come out with big performances. But they are tough situations to be in, and we’re faced with one in Game 6.
Q. Did you ever have, professionally speaking, a tougher moment than losing that Stanley Cup?
COACH BYLSMA: Again, the use of the English language isn’t very good in situations like that. Was it tough? It was disappointing. Did I think about ways to try to get us refocused on playing our game sooner than we did? Those are, yes. You’re focused in the moment, you’re focusing on those decisions and what the team needs and trying to get the team refocused.
You know, I’ll take the good with the bad. Our team is hard working. We’ve come back, we’ve bounced back. We’ve battled in the face of adversity. We’ve come back and won a Game 7 against Washington. This is a group of guys I believe in and am confident in. It’s a tough situation.
We got behind the eight ball against a good team in a tough building, and the score ends up being a tough one to take. But we are going to regroup. And we are going to be ready to play Game 6, and we’re going to lay it on the line.
Q. Is there anything you’ll do today or tomorrow to help your players put the nature of that loss behind them? And are you worried about the team’s collective psyche after the first bad loss, so to speak, of the postseason?
COACH BYLSMA: Well, you worry about a lot of things as a coach. So I certainly will ask questions and contemplate scenarios. But today’s a day off for our players. We’re staying away from the rink. That was going to be the case win or lose, no matter what the score of the game was. Today is a day off to refocus. Be with your families. Take a deep breath and come back tomorrow and get refocused on what we need to do.
We’d do that after a win, and we do that after a loss. We do that going into Game 7 in Washington. We do that going into Game 4 in Carolina.
The situation and how we deal with it isn’t different. We’ll talk about it. Talk about what we need to do. Where our focus needs to be. And try to deal with all the thoughts and emotions, and then get ourselves ready for Game 6. So today’s a day off for the players and we’ll start that again tomorrow.
Q. It often looks bad on individuals when the team collectively falls down. Knowing what you know about Sid in particular, what do you anticipate from him in Game 6?
COACH BYLSMA: Well, we can talk specifically about Sidney, but I believe in that group of guys. They have bounced back and worked hard in the face of adversity. And they’ve done it for each other. They’ve believed in what we’re trying to do here. I’m fully confident in the resolve of our players. I know that in situations that have been difficult in this playoff run, we’ve responded with a pretty keen focus, a steely resolve, and went out and played our best hockey when sometimes we were backed up against the wall.
So I’m confident in our group. I’m confident in our goaltender, I’m confident in Sidney Crosby that we’ll be focused and ready to go.
Q. Are the match-ups in this series tantamount because everybody’s - every time somebody’s had a last change they’ve won the game. And I know both coaches have said they’re not that important. But is there another way to explain why each team has been so dominant when they’ve been home?
COACH BYLSMA: I’m not sure there’s a specific reason why. Special teams have been a big part of every game in terms of winning the game. It always is, and that’s been a factor in all the wins, I believe.
But there is an extra jump at home. You’re familiar with your rink, you’re familiar with the surroundings, and that does help out as well. Sometimes on the road it’s a special performance that you need when the teams are two very good teams.
They’ve come up big at home. We’ve answered with our two wins, and now we get a chance to answer back in Game 6. We’re going to use our crowd. They’re going to come out in full force, and they’re going to spur us on, and our team will be focused. Hopefully we can take advantage of the small advantages that home does bring for you. Hopefully we can do that in Game 6 and force us to 7.
Q. I’m sure you’re not going to reveal your strategy for Pavel Datsyuk before the next game. But could you talk in general terms of how the Red Wings are different when they have Datsyuk and when they don’t?
COACH BYLSMA: I think the one thing that was clearly evident in that game is his line got to the offensive zone more with the puck and had more offensive zone time. His ability to hold on to the puck and also use his line mates and use his defense in the offensive zone created more zone time. Created more pucks in and around our goalie and made us play defense a little bit more.
He’s an elite player. That’s what he does. They’re fortunate to be getting him back here in whatever capacity he was. He’s certainly a big factor in the game. We’re going to have to almost take a more defensive stance against him when he’s out there than Zetterberg checking Crosby the way it seemed to be playing out in the first little bit of the series.
Q. In your experience as playing for Babcock and now coaching against him, what makes him a good coach?
COACH BYLSMA: Well, the one thing that I really learned from Mike Babcock as a player, looking forward to coaching and how I was going to be a coach, is the foundation he builds systematically and work ethic accountability?wise for his team. He continues to go back to the foundations of this is how we play. This is what we do. That’s the foundation you need to have success.
You know how the Red Wings are going to play. You know how they’re going to execute. They certainly have very good players. But it’s that foundation, and then you add the accountability of the work ethic that they have as a team that makes them a very strong team. And that’s really the strength of Mike Babcock’s coaching from my standpoint.
Q. As you’re trying to refocus your group in Game 6, what type of loss is easier to get them to turn the page on? Is an embarrassing loss like last night or if they’d lost a close, competitive, one?goal game?
COACH BYLSMA: Well, I don’t know what would be more heartbreaking to lose one in overtime or the game we had last night. We certainly didn’t like the results.
Certainly you have a lot of frustrations and emotions that go when you see the score and see how that one ends or plays out. The bottom line is anything that we attach to that game other than we need to play better in areas where we can get better is going to take our focus away from what we need to do.
We need to get focused back on how we play, and playing the right way. And doing that for 60 minutes, and that’s our focus. Anything else, any other focus, any other attachment to the frustration of that game or as you said, embarrassment, is wasted energy, and will not do us any good.
So, again, we took today off to try to put our minds away from the loss, and then tomorrow we’ll refocus and have practice and get ready for Tuesday in Game 6.
Q. Did you talk to Marc-Andre after last night’s game and how do you think he’ll respond Tuesday night?
COACH BYLSMA: Other than to say I didn’t think anything was ?? it wasn’t his fault, the situation we were in. It was the situation of pucks getting by him and hitting sticks and two power?play goals. It was a situation where taking him out was a chance to give him a break and give our team a bit of a wakener. Get a new guy in there and see if that would spark us to get focused on playing the game better.
But Marc is the guy who is going in for Game 6. We believe in him. I know he’s the type of guy who is going to be ready to go for Game 6. He’s going to be focused, and he’s going to want to go out there and play the best game of the series for Game 6.
I know that every guy in that room wants to see him in that net for Game 6. They believe in him. They’re confident in him, and they know he’s going to respond.
Q. These situations that are fairly self explanatory and your team was in this situation last year. Do you coach moreover the next two days, or do you coach less?
COACH BYLSMA: Well, that’s a good question. You can ask me that question again after Game 6. I think there are situations where you may coach less to an individual player, and there are players maybe that you need to coach more to.
But there won’t be a big change. I think change is a sign of an alarm bell, and you set up the way you do things so that in situations like this. We can act like we normally act. We can do the things that we normally do. It’s just a matter of fact that we lost Game 5. This is a situation, this is what we thought about it. This is what we think going forward. We’ll have that discussion tomorrow. And that is something we do pretty regularly after wins and losses.
So I think getting refocused on the game is something that we will do well, because we’ve done this for the last, you know, two months now about dealing with losses, dealing with adversity. Dealing with situations like Game 7. Going into losing Game 5 and going to Phillie for Game 6. We’ve dealt with these situations the same way, and we’ll deal with them the same way tomorrow. I think that’s going to help us get focused and refocused for Game 6.
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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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