Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Alanah McGinley on 05/07/08 at 04:42 PM ET
A short Q&A session with the media, talking with Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock and GM Ken Holland.
Q. What sort of lessons do you take from being at this point last season as you enter this series?
COACH MIKE BABCOCK: Well, I think the big thing is I’ve been really fortunate to be here. This is my third time in five years, and it’s the best time of year. It’s a lot of fun. You want to prepare as hard as you can and get your team ready to go.
But I understand totally it’s about will and it’s about determination, and it’s about breaks in goaltending. And we’re ready and they’re ready. We think we’re going to win, and they think they’re going to win, and something’s gotta give.
Q. With Dallas likely to be going for Franzen, Zetterberg, what are you looking for from in secondary scoring?
COACH MIKE BABCOCK: Exactly, we’re looking for everyone to score. You don’t just go out there to kill the clock. The reason these teams are here is because there are a number of people. Ribeiro, everyone’s talking about Morrow, but the Ribeiro trade has been a phenomenal trade for the Dallas Stars, and then you go to Richards and then you go to Modano, or you want to go to Modano Richards and Ribeiro, whatever works, those are good players. But there are other people on their team.
Eriksson has way more skill than people think. Lehtinen’s as good a two?way player as there is in the league. Morrow has significant ?? so you go through the whole roster. That’s what you need to have success this time of the year. We’re going to do what we can to shut down their best people, and we’re going to try to target their people and be as physical as we can, and do what we have to do. And they’re going to do the same.
Q. You shuffled your top two “D” players there for practice. Is that something you wanted to take a look at? And what is the reason?
COACH MIKE BABCOCK: We did it during different times of the year. We did it in the Nashville series. There is a number of ways to look at it ?? we’ve got two real physical guys on the back end that hunt down players and we like players that we’re playing against to be a little bit nervous. So, everyone thinks that the “D” man going back for the puck is the guy that gets run. Well, there’s nothing wrong with the “D” man running the guy coming to get him either.
So we’re just making sure we’ve got everything covered. As I said to Nick this morning, “Hey, let’s do this.”
“Yeah, no problem.” He said, “I played lots with Kronwall, so I am used to him.” And that was all.
Q. And Fil’s status?
COACH MIKE BABCOCK: Fil skated real well today. We yanked him off the ice prior to power play penalty kill. We’re going to find out tomorrow. This is the first time he’s skated and he responded really well. We didn’t push it so we’ll see tomorrow.
Q. There’s been a lot of hurry?up?and?wait kind of in this getting ready for the series. Talking about the expectations and what could possibly happen. Are you guys just ready to kind of hit the ice tomorrow?
COACH MIKE BABCOCK: Yeah, obviously, I think it’s a great time of the year. Sometimes we get so caught up in what’s ahead that we don’t enjoy what’s gone on. I can tell you that our players and myself have enjoyed winning two rounds, and we’ve enjoyed the time when it’s time to play.
When you’re watching the other teams play and you’re done, you always say, gee, are they ever good. Are they ever good. You can’t believe it. You don’t watch yourself like that, and so we’re prepared. I can tell you right now we’re rested. We’re excited. But now you’ve got to execute and now you’ve got to play hard and with determination. And we’re a focused group, we’re a determined group, and only time will tell.
Q. Ken, with the explosion of Franzen in this post?season, can you take us back to the days when you were looking at him, and what you thought he could do? Is there ever a point in time when a player exceeds what you expected he could do for your team?
KEN HOLLAND: Well, Franzen really was ?? Hakan Anderson, he really is the man responsible for Johan being a Red Wing. First time that I saw Johan we had already drafted him. I remember seeing him during the work stoppage play a couple of games in the Swedish Elite League. My first initial reaction was there was more there offensively than what he showed. And then as the summer wore on we ended up hiring Mike in, what, July?
And Franzen was on the world championship team, and was again in a defensive role on the world championship team. He didn’t play a lot that tournament. Maybe played one or two games. He was in a defensive role in the Swedish Elite League.
Mike and I had seen him practice a little bit with the Swedish team in the world championships. We watched him play. Mike was over there with a coaching symposium or something for a few days. And Mike I and I had known each other for ten years. We were sitting beside each other, gabbing up a storm.
Then he came over to training camp, and it was really the first time we’d seen him play in the NHL. And I think the first thing Franzen did was he won over Mike defensively. Mike put him and Dan Cleary killing penalties. That was our second pk unit. We always thought he had more to give offensively. He had five preseason goals in six games this year. Unfortunately he got hurt the last preseason game.
We really thought this was going to be a breakout year. As it turned out, obviously, it has been his breakout year. We thought it was going to start in October, but his breakout year really started in March.
Q. Can you tell me a little about Kronwall’s importance in this series?
COACH MIKE BABCOCK: It’s really important. There’s a number of facets. Number one, he’s a character, character guy and he’s an elite hockey player with or without the puck. He gets the puck. He’s leading, him and Robidas are leading the league from the back end in scoring with 8 points a piece.
But the dimension that makes him different than Rafi and Nick is he’s out there hunting you down. He’s looking for you. He’s going to get somebody in this series, I guarantee it.
You know, they’re going to be trying to get him, but he just makes you nervous. You’ve got to know where he is, and he gets to play against good players. They have good players, and he’ll be physical. I guarantee you he remembers when he was put in one of the playoffs last year. The players have good memories.
So Lundqvist is a good body checker, comes after you hard, and Kronwall’s a good body checker.
Q. Coach, talking to some of your players, they talk about Chris Osgood’s quiet confidence, and how he’s never given up, and how he’s almost a comeback kid where he’s slated to be the second goalie on everybody’s minds and then he makes the most of all opportunities. You’re probably not surprised by him being 6?0, but why is he able to maintain this sort of quiet confidence that he portrays to us?
COACH MIKE BABCOCK: Well, anybody who told you he’s quiet was lying to you. He’s not quiet. But he does have confidence. And he’s just a great person, number one. He loves being a Red Wing. You know, Kenny drafted him and has had him here forever a number of times.
I think the biggest thing, and I talked about this a number of times is he reinvented himself. He went back one summer after his first year back here and learned how to butterfly. As simple as that seems, he would always say to me, The 15-year-old kids butterfly better than I do. Well, you can’t play in the league today without that ability. So he fixed his game and reinvented himself. And I think a lot of us have to do that whether we’re a writer, whether we’re a coach, whatever walk of life we’re in it’s about life?long learning and getting better or someone else has your job. And if Ozzie hadn’t made those adjustments, he still wouldn’t be playing.
But he’s made the adjustments and with his mental set and athletic ability and his knowledge and veteran play, he’s able to carry all those things plus his butterflying and feeling good. He’s earned the right to be confident. He gives our team confidence, and he’s playing really well right now and all the power to him.
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