Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Alanah McGinley on 06/01/08 at 06:12 PM ET
Q. I guess looking at the ice time last night, [Evgeni] Malkin played more than Sidney [Crosby]. And is that, on your part, an attempt to just get Evgeni Malkin going? Does he warrant more ice time than Sidney? How do you manage ice time between those two?
COACH MICHEL THERRIEN: How do I manage the ice time? Our offensive players play on a regular shift, and they play on the power play. Obviously, Malkin playing on the power play, it’s a different role than Sid. And we want them to be productive offensively, so they play like every third or fourth shift, five-on-five. They play on the power play. Malkin played a little bit more on the power play. The biggest reason is because he’s playing the point. You don’t have to spend more energy probably than Sid as a forward has to work down low battling, all that type of stuff. So that’s a little bit the difference.
Q. How do you think is Evgeni Malkin handling all of this? There’s a lot of pressure, criticism. How do you think he’s responding to it? Is there anything that you can do to try and make him feel better?
COACH MICHEL THERRIEN: (Chuckling) I do try, believe me. He’s an important player for our team, and with good reason. He’s facing a tough time. He’s a good kid. He means well. And it’s not a matter that he doesn’t want to have success. He wants success for our team, and his teammates and for himself too as well. We’re supporting him. I met him before the game to show him that we believe in him, because he’s a kid that we really believe in. Things are not going the way that he’d like to or we’d like to as well, but in the meantime, he’s working hard, and he’s trying. And sometimes it doesn’t always go the way you’d like it to go, but the only thing he’s got to do is keep focusing and working hard.
Q. Do you think he’s being treated unfairly? Do you think he’s getting a bit of a rough ride?
COACH MICHEL THERRIEN: It’s not up to me to say that.
Q. What do you say to people who say the Red Wings have got this series in the bag, that they’re so experienced they’re going to win?
COACH MICHEL THERRIEN: Well, it’s a cliche. We’re going to take one game at a time, and we’ll see. Yesterday could have been a game that it could have gone both ways. And the Red Wings played a tight checking game. We did the same thing. That’s playoff hockey. And to win games, when it’s such a tight checking game, you need breaks. And this is what they got in their second goal, it was a break. It’s a broken play, but good teams find ways to win. And you have to give credit to the Red Wings. But in the meantime, it’s not like we played a bad game. I thought we played good. And usually when we give 10 scoring chances or less, usually we win those type of games. And yesterday I thought it was a game that could have gone both ways. Both teams played really well, but they got that break that go with the win.
Q. You’ve said during the season, you’ve talked about how you like the way your team was playing without getting the result. As this series has progressed, are you happier with the way the team has played, although it didn’t get the result in Game 4, and is that enough to carry in to you guys for Game 5?
COACH MICHEL THERRIEN: I thought we played a solid game yesterday. And it was an important game for both teams. For our young group, I thought their focus was there. Defensively, we were better in Game 3. And the more the games go on, the more I believe we feel more comfortable out there.
Q. Games 1 and 2 you said you were happy with Crosby’s line playing against [Red Wings forward Henrik] Zetterberg’s line. Moved that, you switched off that a bit in Pittsburgh. Are you happy to go back to that matchup on the road? And is 20 minutes a night enough for Crosby at this stage?
COACH MICHEL THERRIEN: First of all, Crosby can’t play 26, 27, 28 minutes. If he doesn’t kill penalty, there’s no player that can play 26 or 25. That’s the number one thing. You guys have to realize, because you guys look to the total at the end. And that’s the big mistake that you guys are doing. You gotta break down the ice time. You gotta break down even strings, how much time they’ve got power play and penalty killing. The only difference those guys got regarding Zetterberg, yesterday we had more power play and Zetterberg’s played four minutes on the PK, and that was a difference between both players. But we’ll find a way to give quality ice time to Sid. That’s our responsibility, and it’s more difficult if the other team wants to—they got the last change. And sometimes you don’t want to overcoach yourself. You have to let the player play. And it’s a challenge to play against quality players. And there’s no doubt about that. It’s a challenge for Sid tomorrow, and it’s going to be a challenge for Malkin as well and the rest of the players. It’s not about just one player or one line. You saw the Red Wings yesterday, their fourth line scored the winning goal. You need contribution from everyone.
Q. What have you told your players today considering what happened in the first two games at Joe Louis Arena?
COACH MICHEL THERRIEN: Honestly, there’s not much to say. Most importantly, it’s tomorrow.
Q. What are you going to say tomorrow?
COACH MICHEL THERRIEN: I’ve got to wait to talk to them.
Q. What can Malkin’s linemates do to take some of the pressure off Evgeni?
COACH MICHEL THERRIEN: It’s tough to say. Because we’re saying all the right things. Basically it’s come to the players to perform and make sure that they stick to the plan. And we don’t have any different game plan regarding Crosby’s line or they don’t play a different style than Malkin’s line or [Jordan] Staal’s line.This is not the way it goes. And you just have to make sure they work hard, they skate, first of all. It’s a game with a lot of speed. And when using your speed, you create turnovers. And you can feed offense with turnovers.
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