Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Alanah McGinley on 05/15/08 at 05:05 PM ET
Today’s Q&A session with the Dallas Stars features some thoughts from Steve Ott and coach Dave Tippett.
Q. Steve, one step down. Now you got to go back to Detroit where things haven’t been great. How are you going to focus for that?
STEVE OTT: Obviously, things haven’t been great in Detroit. Starting with your goalie, when he hasn’t really won in that building, it kind of sets up for a great night, I think. What better time than now to, you know, put a little bit of pressure on them, Marty have a big night, get out there with a win.
Q. Talk a bit about Mike last night, not just the impact he had on the game, but in the room between periods leading up to the game.
STEVE OTT: Well, Mike’s a big time player. Doesn’t matter, you know, if he’s getting a little bit older in his age, he still knows when to step up his game.
For him to step up with a huge power play goal, wasn’t a better time to do it. The leadership, his age, his experience, it all came to the forefront.
Q. Steve, the win last night, not just one game for you guys. It’s that thought that, We can play with this team, we can beat them, win the series.
STEVE OTT: Definitely. I think the lack of confidence that we had, you know, after the first three losses there, it did weigh on a lot of guys. For us to go out there and beat them on our home ice and prove to ourselves and prove to other people that we do belong here, we can beat these guys, I think was really key.
Going there again, you know, it’s do or die for us. I’ve said that. Obviously before last game, it was the same situation. It’s going to be the same situation until we hopefully get to Game 7.
Our mentality is one game at a time. The old clichés, one shift at a time. But it really is. We have to take the confidence that we got from last game and bring it to the next.
Q. How big is it to play on a line with Ribeiro and Morrow?
STEVE OTT: Well, it’s a great opportunity to be out there with those guys. First off, you know, any time you lose Jere Lehtinen, Stu Barnes, you can’t replace those guys. You can just go in there and try to do a job that you can bring, provide that little bit of spark that’s missing with those guys.
For myself, if it’s me or Brad Winchester, whoever, Toby Petersen, if it’s any one of those guys that has to step up into a role he hasn’t been in, then so be it.
It’s playoff time. Those things happen. It’s just a great opportunity for some other guys.
Q. Was there a certain point last night where the confidence came back for this team?
STEVE OTT: I think once we got that first goal on them, the bench lit up like it did in the first two series. We hadn’t really seen that in any of the first three games. The excitement was there. In between periods, the guys were loose, but excited to be up a goal.
So that feeling that we had, it’s hard to explain, but the feeling we had against San Jose and Anaheim was definitely there against Detroit last night.
Q. As a tandem, how do Zetterberg and Datsyuk work?
STEVE OTT: Both, first of all, are up for the Selke award. You don’t see that when you have two offensive players. They’re extremely gifted, offensively skilled, but have that defensive mindset that helps them out as well. Not only are you getting one side of the coin, you’re getting a total package in those two players. They can do it on both sides of the ice. That’s what probably makes them so great.
Q. With it being more physical, do you think you hit a nerve with Detroit, it’s going to be like this for the rest?
STEVE OTT: Well, that’s our game plan, is definitely to be physical every shift against them. It doesn’t matter how banged up we are or who is banged up, it’s more or less going out there, finishing your check, playing hard on them and getting them to cough up the puck. I thought we did that a lot last night. I seen one of the clips there that said we’ve been outhitting them 47 29 the last five periods, something like that. It’s starting to work for us. Our physicality has to stay there for us the rest of the way.
Q. Have you seen replays of the disallowed goal by Detroit?
STEVE OTT: I did see it, actually. You know, you can squawk about that. But to be honest with you, I thought he was still in the way. I seen the puck just goes by Marty, but Marty’s blocker gets hit by Holmstrom’s elbow. Yeah, he’s out of the paint, but that doesn’t matter. The goalie still has to be able to make a save and be able to do what he does.
For that play, I thought it was an extremely close call, but he still did nick him on the way in.
Q. What is it going to take for Marty to get that first win at Joe Louis?
STEVE OTT: Marty has been phenomenal all year. I’ve been saying this from the start. He’s an extremely competitive goalie. I think this sets up great for him.
He wants that win probably more than anybody. Get that monkey off his back, get a win there would be huge for his confidence and the team’s, as well.
If he does pull that off and he steals us one, then that’s what we expect from him and that’s what we hope to get from him.
Q. Do you ever get the sense, we talk about a backup goalie coming in in a tough situation, the team will play for the goalie. Is there a feeling you can do the same thing for him?
STEVE OTT: Oh, for sure. Everybody knows that Marty’s had a difficult time in Detroit. That’s no secret. Not a bigger secret than the 33 year Game 7 or whatnot.
So for us, you know, being there for Marty, we’re all there. We’re all excited to go there. We can’t wait. I mean, for us, you know, summer could have started today and we would have been all pretty miserable having meetings. We’re alive and we feel good. We feel confident going into Detroit.
Coach Dave Tippett
Q. You talked about your best players need to be your best players, how evident was that last night and how evident does it need to be for the rest of this series?
COACH DAVE TIPPETT: For your team to be the best you can be, everybody has to contribute. There’s obviously some players that have the ability to make a bigger impact on the game than others.
Last night some of our top players had a big impact on the game.
Q. As far as your lines… Just seems like there was a lot of energy. Is that part of the lines or part desperation?
COACH DAVE TIPPETT: I think it’s more about the players’ attitudes and desperation in the situation. You want to put lines together that you think can be successful for your group. But in the end, it’s not about, you know, the names that are going out there together, it’s how the names play out there. That was the good thing last night. We played with a lot of desperation. I thought there was parts of our game that just the energy levels allowed us to be better at last night. You know, we were fortunate to get a win.
Q. Do you think Marty is thinking about his record in Detroit?
COACH DAVE TIPPETT: You know, I think he’s just worried about playing well. Last night he took a real step forward. That was by far his best game of the series. If I know Marty, that’s what he’s thinking about. He’s building on last night. Our situation hasn’t changed: we’re still do or die. Marty knows he’s going to have to play a great game for us.
He’ll be concentrating on what he has to do to be successful. He’ll certainly look at last night’s game as a step in the right direction.
Q. What about Mike? How much of a statement was it last night, his performance?
COACH DAVE TIPPETT: Well, you know, he’s one of those guys that we class as top players and we need them to be good. We put him out on the wing last night. I thought he reacted very well. Got the big power play goal for us. He was digging into a lot of the parts of the game that we really thought that our team was lacking, just the checking part of it, one on one battles.
He was a very good player for us. Like a lot of other guys, we had a lot of extra energy last night, whether it’s desperation or whatever it may be, but it came out last night, and that has to continue.
Q. A lot of veteran guys, their careers evolve over time, become more complete. You have to worry about faceoffs, defense a little more. Do you think Mike has evolved that way?
COACH DAVE TIPPETT: Oh, yeah. He’s come that way from a long way. It’s funny. Going back to hear the stories about when he first came to Minnesota, he’s gone through Bob Gainey as a GM, as a coach, Hitch. Just the identity of our franchise coming forward, he’s turned into a complete player. You know, he was drafted. I know him well from the draft because he played for my brother up in Prince Albert. He was a superstar talent that every time he touched the puck, he was trying to make something happen. That’s why he was drafted No. 1 overall.
To his credit, and this is the kind of person he is, he figured out that individual success doesn’t mean anything if you don’t have team success. For him to have team success, he had to be a two way player. He’s gone through that process. Now he’ll be remembered as a wonderful talent, but he’ll be remembered for the great all around player he was, not just a first round pick with a bunch of offensive talent.
Q. You pulled an ace out of your sleeve last night, putting Toby and the boys on Datsyuk and Zetterberg. Going to Detroit, is it pull another ace?
COACH DAVE TIPPETT: We’ll tinker around, find ways to get things that we’d like to see. You’re trying to get as many situations as you can that would be, not necessarily an advantage, but to try to neutralize. There’s a lot of things you can do within a game.
You know, we’ll just see how that plays out on Saturday.
Q. From where we were sitting, it seemed a lot more physical. Do you think you cracked Detroit by getting in their face, maybe pissing them off?
COACH DAVE TIPPETT: Competitive level, we were getting to a lot more battles last night. Our back checking, our tracking from behind was a lot better. Looked like we played with more energy. You know, we tried to really emphasize keeping our shifts shorter, which was something that goes back to a little bit we talked about that game before where we have so many players that they want to win, they want to do their best so bad, they’ll stay that extra bit to try to get it done. In actual fact, that’s working against them.
So we tried to be real disciplined with our shift length, make sure everybody had maximum energy going out there. I thought it paid off in the end for us.
Q. It’s a completely different series, completely different team you’re playing, but what can you take from the Sharks’ comeback in your series?
COACH DAVE TIPPETT: Well, it’s a mental part of the game that, you know, you get one win, the team that gets the win gets the momentum, they get some life, they get some hope.
On the other side, I know from our standpoint against the Sharks, you know, we gave up the one game, then you’re coming back, you’re not really worried about it till you give up the second, and now you’re starting to get, uh oh, this is starting to get testy. That’s up to us to put them in that position. We have to use the momentum to our favor, and try to put some doubt in their mind. They’re a very good hockey team. They’re an experienced hockey team.
You still go in there, if we can win a game on Saturday, it’s going to get closer and closer. That’s our mindset and hopefully that triggers something, you know, a little bit of doubt in theirs.
Q. How much confidence do you take back to Detroit?
COACH DAVE TIPPETT: Well, you just got to look at we have confidence in the way we played last night. That’s the biggest. We can talk about what we want to do, all the emotions and everything. But it’s a matter of when you look at what you did, you can build on that, you can look back and say, We played well in these areas, this is what we did to be successful, you take those things with you, that helps bring that momentum or that emotion with you.
Our guys feel very good today. You get up this morning, you’re still alive. That’s a strong thing to grab ahold of. We’ll look at what we did well into that game last night and take it into Game 5.
Q. What is the harder thing to do, getting that one win, now they have it, is it harder to keep the gas on now?
COACH DAVE TIPPETT: I think it’s easier now because you got the one behind you. You have that belief system back in place again. Until you get that one win, you’re grasping at straws. Now, like I say, you get in a situation where you get a win, you get some momentum, now you have something to really build on.
Q. A lot of teams say when they get into the situation down three, they have to go one game at a time, one shift at a time. The now unemployed Ron Wilson used to say he thought that was garbage. He thought if you don’t believe you can win four, you’re not going to win one. On some level do you have to believe you can win four?
COACH DAVE TIPPETT: You can’t win four unless you win the next one. That’s the way we look at it. Everybody recognizes you have to win four to win the series. But you can’t win four in one game.
We’re in a situation, if we’re worried about our fourth win before we got our second, we probably won’t get to four. We got to worry about the second win and get ourselves right back in the series. That’s the way we talked to our players. Everybody has different ways of looking at things. Our focus is, hey, we’re trying to stay alive every day and we’re going to do whatever we can to do that.
We did it yesterday. We get a couple good days of rest. We’re going to try to do it Saturday. If we do it again Saturday, we’ll look at it Monday. That’s the way it is.
Are we trying to get to four? Sure, we are. Do we think we can get to four? Sure, we can. But it’s one day at a time to get there.
Q. To his point, I mean, you talk a lot about belief systems. Don’t you have to have that belief system that it’s possible, even though you would be the first team in 33 years?
COACH DAVE TIPPETT: We had that belief system at the start of the series. It just so happens when you get down 3 0, your belief system’s taken a few hits.
When you go into the series, if you don’t think you can win four games going into the series, then you probably shouldn’t play the series, or we wouldn’t have got there.
So the belief system is in place right there. When you’re down 3 0, it certainly tests your belief system. But that’s why you’re trying to grab that belief system back. That game last night was so important in that regard, not just that we kept alive, but we did some things that we believe are gonna make us successful to get to four.
So the belief system, it’s intact going into the series because you got to believe you can win. But when you take a few hits to it, now you got to build it back up again. That’s what the day to day situation does for you.
Q. Talking about Zetterberg and Datsyuk, what are some of the attributes that make them such a good duo?
COACH DAVE TIPPETT: I think if you just go right down the list of what makes a very good hockey player: hockey sense, skill, speed, tenacity, work ethic, all the above. They’re very gifted in those areas. When you get two of them together that obviously have some great chemistry together, it makes them a very dangerous team. Holmstrom is a real good fit for them because he’s a different style of player.
Those guys are top skill players, top players that play the game at a high rate of speed, and they’re also the hardest working players.
Q. How do you think they stack up against others in the League?
COACH DAVE TIPPETT: I think they’re excellent. Those guys, they’ve proven all year long that they’re top players in the League. I mean, that just goes without saying.
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