Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 05/12/07 at 03:31 PM ET
Q. Shuffling the lines tonight, is that a message “Let’s go and play hockey, understand the lines.” Are they the ones you used in the regular season that were awfully successful?
COACH LINDY RUFF: I think if you looked at, for two series Danny, Jochen and Palmer have been pretty flat for us. They hadn’t created a lot, and we were looking for a little bit of a spark. We changed things up, and it worked for a couple games. But, you know, I think that going back to them after, you know, a couple game absences, you know, just a message that we really need you guys.
Q. Coach, not just for Dan, either, didn’t you see better from Jochen and Jason in the lines they were on, too, as far as their play?
COACH LINDY RUFF: Part of that is, yes. You’re open and Palmer has scored a couple, and, you know, putting them back together, I think they’re excited about being back together at the same time and, you know, when things get stale after awhile, even a couple games off or a week off, you know, something that coach will try to get players going.
Jochen has a pretty big extended streak without scoring and getting them back together, it will be interesting to see how they play.
Q. Drury line that you’re putting together, seems pretty formidable. I didn’t see these guys play together—
COACH LINDY RUFF: I’m being excited about a lot of things tonight. The only thing I’m not excited about is an 8:00 game instead of 7:00. So -
Q. We hear you.
COACH LINDY RUFF: There’s lots of things to do in Buffalo.
Q. Coach, you were able to admit that you were a young team and winning the President’s Trophy, the thought is play really well in the regular season but have a tough time with the pressure in the post-season. Is that part of the learning curve?
COACH LINDY RUFF: It is part. We’ve got some players, first, second year battle with the playoffs. Different type of pressure with throughout the year have handled for the most part very well. But playoffs are a different ballgame and, you know, we need, you know, younger guys to handle some situations better.
I mean, this is truly if you want to look at Thomas Vanek’s first full-blown playoff. Last year he ended out for awhile, and you got to learn from that, you’ve got to grow from it. You know, those situations are different than a regular season.
Q. Are you expecting more from him, in particular, Vanek?
COACH LINDY RUFF: I said this yesterday, I said, you know, all eyes were on individuals for individual mistakes. We made enough of them. Thomas is the guy we need to play at an elite level. I was disappointed in his game. I was disappointed in a lot of our player’s games on the individual turnover-wise.
I think—but I think that’s part of the growing for Thomas, too, at the same time. It’s realization that there are no easy games and there are no easy shifts and you’re going to have to work for everything you get.
Q. Are there times out there, Lindy, where you see them play well in a stretch and think that’s it, they’re back to where they were and everything should be much better now, and then it goes back to who is this team and can I see some I.D.?
COACH LINDY RUFF: Well, I think part of it, Buckey, when you look at the playoffs, you’re going to have to give the other team some credit, too, for some shifts and some plays in games where they really get going and at times they get you on your heels. You’ve got to battle through that.
I think for the most part we’ve been pretty good at it. I’ll say it again. I like - I liked our team five-on-five. I watched the game two, three times. I liked what we came out with. We probably came out with as good a first period five-on-five as I’ve seen us play. We just, from a special teams-wise created some negative energy.
Q. Do you think that - did you think that Tim Connolly would have a stronger or bigger effect on the power play than he has had?
COACH LINDY RUFF: You know what I really think the power play has been - it’s been - when it’s gone well. When it doesn’t go well, we made some strange plays. Couple of real bad passes, you know, Chris Drury had a couple and, you know, Max had a couple and Van had a couple turnovers. You can go through the list of turnovers off the power play. Brian Campbell had a couple opportunities to spread the ice out. Vision narrowed during the game.
That power play is a group effort, and it was a lot of different individuals that, you know, probably didn’t execute to their capabilities.
Q. What are you hoping for in moving Chris back? Did you need to see a little bit out of Paul before you put him in that role because of injury?
COACH LINDY RUFF: For Paul was getting him to game pace. You know, he came a long ways in a short period of time. Paul may play some center. Depends on special teams. There’s flexibility there, but knowing that Paul and Chris have established a pretty good relationship playing together.
Q. Lindy, back to the power play, they’ve - they do a really good job of attacking your point guys. Is there anything that you can do strategy-wise, rotate them?
COACH LINDY RUFF: Yeah. I think that if you’re going to attack that hard, we have to—I mentioned Brian Campbell. Brian has to have the awareness to spread the ice out just quicker. Maybe part of that is just keeping your left-handed shot on the left side and righty on the right side if you’re—you don’t take it from your backhand to forehand or what Dmitri tried with a backhand pass across the ice. Once you’ve got them settled down, we go into the attack mode.
Q. Coach, Ryan is mentioned a couple times and you put himself right on top of the list. We’ve got to stop yapping at the officials. He said he thinks it takes away from your game. Would you agree that maybe the players have to lay off a little bit and—
COACH LINDY RUFF: I think at times. I think they get—you know, it’s a tough time of year. If you look at a call—just give you an example. Look at the call against Derek Roy where he’s diving and trying to stop them and you look at the non-call where Max is going to the net and Redden is diving and takes Max’s feet, I think that was probably the peak of the frustration where the bench - I warned the bench a few times about let’s stay off them because I’ll say it again: You’re going to get calls and there’s going to be tough calls.
It’s no use worrying about the non-calls. Go out and work for the calls that you get, and you know you’re going to get some good calls, and at the same time you’re going to have to skill some of the maybe you don’t like because that’s just—it’s been like that all year long. I think the awareness gets a little tighter in the playoffs, and when a call costs you and late in the game with that call and we end up getting scored against, that’s a little bit more painful.
Q. Your power play is not going - when it’s not going, how much do you notice other teams getting that much more physical because of the intimidation factor of them having to pay for a penalty isn’t there anymore?
COACH LINDY RUFF: I don’t notice it that much, no.
Q. Coach, how frustrating for you a former player, old school guys. They guys have signed waiver forms. They have equipment. You can’t put a stick on a guy.
COACH LINDY RUFF: I will say again that I have liked the fact that the game has gotten cleaned up. There’s a happy medium somewhere. Old school. I’ve watched a little bit of video from old school games where I’ve been. I’m embarrassed about how bad I was. I’m being dead serious. I’m embarrassed.
I will say that I brought a game in where James Patrick and I played with the Rangers against Quebec, and I maybe played ten minutes in the game. I could have had 15 hooking penalties and - no, but you can just latch onto guys. You could skate and latch onto them. There was no speed in the game. There was no - we’ve got great speed in the game.
We’ve got great execution. Don’t put your stick on them. Don’t put your stick horizontal. “If you’re putting a stick on somebody’s body, why are you putting it there?” I’m okay with that. Don’t put your stick there. You’re only put being your stick there for one reason, that’s to either give them a little tug or take away a scoring chance or taking aways his offensive ability.
I think what they’ve done with the game has been tremendous. Have there been some tough calls? Yes, there has.
You want to see how easy it is. Put a stripped jersey and go out and try to officiate on a split second when the stick goes horizontal and make that decision. I get to get my computer out and watch it again. I get to slow it down. Damn, that’s a bad call. He’s got one second to make that call. Thanks.
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