Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Alanah McGinley on 05/28/11 at 02:11 AM ET
Q. Just comment on Nathan Horton delivering two Game 7 game-winning goals for you.
COACH JULIEN: Well, he certainly has played like a big-game player obviously. Overtime goals and winning goals. And I think for a guy who hasn’t played in the Playoffs for many years, he certainly has kept a lot of energy inside of him and a lot of obviously excitement to go out there and play the way he did.
And we thought it was fitting, not just for him, but for our team. I think this was probably one of our better games that we’ve played as far as there’s no big mistakes that I saw in the game. I thought it was a well-played Game 7.
We had energy. We had confidence. And certainly had some chances earlier on. But their goaltender was extremely good for them and kept them in the game.
But I thought it was a hard-fought series. Tampa Bay certainly deserves a lot of credit. The fact that where they were before this year for the last few seasons and to come back this year and play the way they did, and then push us straight to the limit in the third round of the Playoffs, I think they deserve a lot of credit.
From the ownership down, they’ve obviously done a pretty good job. And they certainly gave us all we could take. So I think even though they lost, I think they need to be congratulated on their season.
Q. Five-on-five play has been your team’s strength, season and Playoffs. When you saw Bergie take the puck around Stamkos and get his feet cut out from under him, did you decide then that it was going to be a five-on-five game right to the end?
COACH JULIEN: I think so. And rightfully so. We didn’t mind that at all. I think what I liked about the refereeing tonight, they let the two teams decide the outcome.
And I think both teams are very disciplined tonight. Even though, you know, we could question that call, it didn’t really matter at that point. It was about staying focused and doing the right thing here.
And, you know, I thought for what this game meant, I thought the referees handled themselves extremely well. I’m not saying that because we won, I’m saying that because even as it was 0-0, I liked the way they were handling it.
Q. You had received some criticism throughout the Playoffs and you couldn’t win the big game and whatever, talk about the feeling for you personally to have this accomplishment, to take this team to the Cup, a team that doesn’t have a true superstar in the sense of the word, and you’ve gotten them, especially in the biggest game, complete focus. Your thoughts on your accomplishment?
COACH JULIEN: To be honest with you, it doesn’t matter. I’ve said that before. It doesn’t matter what’s being said out there. What matters is what we accomplish. What we accomplished as a team and the way we played and the way we won this game is what matters to me. And right now, as you can see, I’m just happy to see those guys smiling in that dressing room.
What I care about is those guys in the dressing room. I don’t really care as far as whether it’s negative, positive. I do my job.
And I’ve said all along, when you take this kind of a job, everybody knows who you are, they know what you do, and you’re going to face criticism. That’s okay, as long as you’re doing the job and you know you’re doing the best you can. That’s what I’m trying to do.
And right now we’re four wins away from winning a Stanley Cup. And we understand what’s at stake here. We understand who we’re playing, a really good team that dominated the whole league this year.
And we’re going to have to play a lot like we did tonight if we want to give ourselves a chance. Right now that’s what matters to me is prepare those guys to face that challenge.
Q. Can you talk about what you spoke to your team in the timeout because obviously you ignited a fire, and a minute or two later, you scored the game’s only goal.
COACH JULIEN: Basically we had an icing, and the guys on the ice weren’t necessarily the guys I would want against the line that they put out there. So we know that they had set faceoff plays, and i made sure everybody knew what their role was on that and that we had to get the puck out and got a good change.
So we had to stay focused. After that, we had to make sure when we scored that goal not to panic, stay the course. And I thought we did a good job of that tonight. In the last five minutes, like I said, we just kept getting the puck back out and we kept putting it in deep. And our guys really were extremely focused and really disciplined tonight.
And as I said, I couldn’t have asked for a better game from our team in Game 7.
Q. Purcell had quality scoring chance shortly after the goal there. How important was Boychuk’s play?
COACH JULIEN: Well, it was, you know, a big second effort. That’s what we needed from our guys tonight. And he’s a guy that the game before got criticized for being on the ice for all five goals, but he is certainly one of those guys that comes to play and plays hard every night.
As I mentioned this morning, I wasn’t going to talk anything that was negative about our hockey club or about our players, and in return, you see the kind of game that this guy gave us tonight.
He’s very good for us, and it’s nice to see those guys redeem themselves. And our message to him this morning was that he had to park the stuff that happened in the past, and he had to think about what he had to do tonight. And he did a great job of that.
Q. On the winning goal, Ference was saying that’s a play that they’ve talked about a lot. Can you just explain how you coached them and did you see that play developing as it happened?
COACH JULIEN: Yeah, I think it was one of those things, you know, where they call it the 1-3-1. I would rather call it the left wing lock. Scotty Bowman is the one that started that.
I like the way that our guys made some decisions tonight as far as knowing when to rim it in and sometimes even to pass it, if we had guys going with speed.
So we used different entries tonight, which was to obviously keep them on their heels. And I think that was a great play. We walked the puck in, and obviously they made a great play of hanging on to it.
And Horts went to the net. When you’ve got a guy like Dave Krejci who has the puck, he normally finds those guys and made a great pass to Horts.
But we drove the net, we did what we were supposed to do, and we were patient with that puck. So it wasn’t always about rimming the puck in. And our guys chose a real good time here to make that pass and walk in.
Q. Z and Lucic were talking in the dressing room about the persistence and the character of the team helps them in a game where Roloson is stopping everything in sight in the second period. Could you address what you think that was all about in terms of the persistence and how that helped tonight?
COACH JULIEN: First of all, we knew we had to play a 60-minute game tonight. There couldn’t be a ten-minute lapse in our game. In Game 7, you’ve got to be so focused.
Our guys did a great job. I thought after 40 minutes and the amount of shots we had and some of the scoring chances we had, I know from the bench there, the one time it hit him in the mask, next time it hit him in the shoulder. We had to stay with it.
And I think what the Z and Lucic were talking about is that even after two periods, the guys didn’t get discouraged. They just had to keep going.
When I walked into the room before that third period, I really didn’t have much to say because I could hear what they were talking about, and they were bang on. The message was clear. It was direct. It was what you wanted to hear from your players.
So I came in just said a couple of things and basically said we shouldn’t have to change anything. We just gotta stick with it and eventually we get rewarded. And that’s what happened.
But the guys had the right mindset tonight. And they stuck with it. And we found a way to get that goal.
Q. Timmy’s had a long and winding career since his 15 years ago up in Vermont. Could you talk about why this is such a rewarding and fulfilling accomplishment for him?
COACH JULIEN: Well, there’s two things. I mean, he’s not getting any younger, right? I think everybody knows that. I think he knows that.
But one thing I can say, he’s getting better. So you know, sometimes we talk about aging, and basically in his case, he’s getting better. And it’s an area where I don’t think Timmy’s had the opportunity to go to. And it means a lot to him.
And we played extremely well in front of him, but he still had to make some good saves and some important saves, and he made those. And our goal tonight was not to just rely on Timmy to win us a game. We had to do it as a team. And I think our guys responded well.
Timmy made the saves he had to make, and it’s very fitting for him to get a shutout in a game like that, because he’s been good for us all year. And he’s deserving of all the good things that are happening to him.
Q. You talk about how versatile your offense was, mixing it up. Seemed like the defense was just as versatile, really taking the body early and then partitioning off the ice. Later on, taking them out of the speed game. Was that part of the game plan or did that evolve as the game went along?
COACH JULIEN: No, that was part of the game plan. I think, you know, we’ve talked about that most of the series. Now, whether it happened all the time or not, that’s another issue.
But the one thing we wanted to do was really take away their time and space. And we always encouraged our Ds to close the gap. If we closed the gap, we took away some of their space. And by closing the gap, we also were in pretty good position to throw our body around.
But our guys battled hard tonight. I thought our forwards did a great job at directing them in the area that we wanted to direct them. And it was really, like I said earlier, it was a really good team effort.
And we’re a team that can play physical, and we were tonight. But we were disciplined in our physical play. And that was important as well.
Q. I’m wondering if there’s some personal validation for you staying the course and weathering some tough media storms throughout this season.
COACH JULIEN: I don’t know if you were here earlier, but I answered that question. And to me, staying the course is what I’m going to do right until the end. It doesn’t really matter. I’ve said that before. What matters to me is what’s inside that dressing room. And I care about those guys, and I care about the success. And inside that dressing room is important and I care about our fans.
So our fans deserve what’s happening right now, and hopefully we can get them better than what we did tonight. And that’s come back with a Cup. So that’s the important thing. And repeating myself.
When you’re in this job, you gotta be ready to take criticism. And as much as I’m getting criticism, I’m also getting a lot of pats on the back from other people and that’s important.
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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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