Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Alanah McGinley on 05/29/08 at 01:29 PM ET
Update 1:11pm ET: Added another interview to this post. Below you’ll find words from Niklas Lidstrom and Henrik Zetterberg.
Q. Chris, this week all your teammates and coaches have been saying that your ability to bounce back from losses or bad goals and things like that is really one of your strengths. How do you do that so easily, and last night is a game that’s easier or tougher to get past?
CHRIS OSGOOD: It’s over. We didn’t come into the series thinking we were going to win four straight. We were hoping to. But to say we expected it to be a hard series would be right on. Just play the game tomorrow. I mean, the next day, just keep doing the same thing as I’ve been doing. That’s about it. I haven’t really put any thought into last night, this morning.
I thought it was a real good game. Both teams played real well, and somebody has to win and lose every night. We were on the short end last night.
Q. If I could get you both to comment on this. Mike Babcock came in this morning, the morning after a loss, jovial with the media and joking. Can you talk about the way he kind of sets the mood for the team and kind of understands when to go at you and when to give you your space and how his feelings for that kind of thing?
KRIS DRAPER: I thought last night’s game was a hard-fought hockey game. We made a couple mistakes, and it resulted in goals for the Penguins. And when you’re playing a team that’s so talented offensively you certainly have to make sure you take care of your own end.
And we had, like I said, some mistakes. Like I said, it’s over and done with. We can’t change what happened last night. And our focus is going to be on our preparation here for the next couple days to get ready for Game 4.
The coach wants to come up and make sure that the players still feel confident, and we do. I mean, we still have a great feeling in our dressing room. And Mike’s going to be the first one to tell you that. That we knew that this was going to be a series. And that’s what it’s turned into.
Q. Kris, do you sense now the other side, young team, you had them on the ropes. Their confidence was shaky. Now they’ve got life. They scored a goal, scored a couple goals. They got the crowd and won a game in the Stanley Cup Final. It will be different now, won’t it?
KRIS DRAPER: As well as Ozzie has been playing, we knew we weren’t going to shutout the Pittsburgh Penguins out four straight games. That doesn’t happen. They have too many weapons. And we knew that was going to happen. But we’re happy with the way we responded last night. It’s 1-0 and 2-0, and we just kept coming at them.
We had some chances late to tie it up. It didn’t happen. But we - I thought we had a great start. They were really good in the middle part of the game, and at the end we had a real good push, but just it wasn’t just enough.
Q. Given the way you’ve played last night, clearly you guys were in the game from start to finish. If you were in Coach’s shoes, would you make any changes to the lineup, maybe a Chelios or McCarty going into Game 4?
KRIS DRAPER: Did you ask Mike that? (Laughter) That’s stuff that, as players, we obviously have no control over. Like you said, we felt we were right in the hockey game. We didn’t get it done. That’s the bottom line. But that’s something that certainly Mike will take a look at. As players, at this time of year you just go out and play.
Q. Talk about that goal Franzen scored last night, what it meant to the team and just what it means to have him looking like he’s back to where he was.
KRIS DRAPER: That was a big goal. Not only for our team, but certainly for the Mule. He had been sidelined. He’s missed a lot of hockey in the Dallas series, and he was back being his dominant self last night. He’s so big and so strong. And it looked like he had that confidence back that he knew that he could take the puck to the net.
And he did have some great chances in the third period as well. So that’s something that certainly we’re going to need. You always talk about secondary scoring at this time of year. And that was a big goal for our team and certainly big goal for him mentally. So that’s definitely a positive that we saw last night.
Q. Ozzie, you’ve been together so long throughout the playoffs, day in, day out, and yet you have a day off where you’ll have a team activity where you’re going to go somewhere and hang out and relax. Talk about why that works so well with this team and the group of the guys that are together, and when you guys are together, alone, and kind of get away from the media and everybody else, what the dynamic is.
CHRIS OSGOOD: That was the main thing, was to get away. Some quiet time. Just to relax and do whatever we wanted to do for one day and kind of rejuvenate ourselves. And relax and come back tomorrow and be ready to practice. And then play a great game Saturday. We’ve always done stuff together as a team since ‘94, ‘95. We did a lot of different things.
When you go on the West Coast, swings and stuff. We’ve had a tight knit group of guys, regardless of who is here, who comes in and out. The core guys we’ve had here for so long invite guys into our group and we have no clicks. We get along great. And that’s why we play so well on the ice.
Q. Were the Penguins a different team in this building and can you understand why they haven’t lost since February here?
CHRIS OSGOOD: I think they played pretty good Game 2 in Detroit. I mean, I find it funny, the shots were 9?1 with eight minutes left in the first period. I thought we played real well. I thought their goalie made two huge saves to keep it at 0?0. I didn’t think it was that much different.
I thought they played with a lot of energy after they made it 2?0. But any team would at any given rink. I think when you get to this point, both teams are so good, I don’t think it really matters much where the games are.
They’re both really great rinks to play hockey in. The atmospheres are outstanding. And I thought it was a really well?played game. Fast paced and hard hitting and a clean game that was ? unfortunately, we lost. We would have loved to have been on the other side, but we weren’t last night.
Q. That third goal, how frustrating is it for a goaltender to get caught on a play from behind the net?
CHRIS OSGOOD: It’s no fun when you’re there. I don’t know what happens. Cut across, stayed with him. Ended up shooting off the back of the net, went off the back of his stick, a weird bounce. More or less, just try to get back to your net as fast as you can and make sure he doesn’t stuff it in the open side.
He made a good play because he had it on the other side, used a left handed shot, pulled it back towards me. It happens. A lot of bounces go on during the course of a game and course of the series.
I mean, even a nice play to get it out front, and things happen. It could have ricocheted off me or Lebda or anybody. And it hit me in the back of the leg and ricocheted in.
Q. Can both of you talk about Nicklas Lidstrom, what kind of captain he is in terms of his personality, has he changed at all since he’s been captain, in terms of how he deals with you guys?
KRIS DRAPER: First of all, Nick is a tremendous captain. When Stevie decided to retire, it was a no-brainer who was going to be the next captain of this hockey club. And very similar to Stevie about how he carries himself on and off the ice. Really, what he does is he just goes out and leads by example, with playing at a high level, game in, game out. And the one thing you know, Nick has become a little bit more vocal. As a leader of the team, obviously he feels there’s sometimes, some situations where he has to say something.
He doesn’t say a lot. He’s not a rah-rah kind of guy. But just like Stevie and a lot of the great leaders, when they speak, everyone listens.
Q. Can I get you both to answer this. Obviously the series received a ton of hype going in. I know you want to wrap things up as quickly as you can, do you think last night’s game justified all the hype that the series received?
KRIS DRAPER: Absolutely. I thought last night’s game was unbelievable. Like Ozzie said before, there was a lot of hits and skating, some great plays. Big saves. It had everything that we expected this series was going to have. And those are the games you love being a part of.
Obviously we would have loved to have been on the other side last night, but that didn’t happen. We did get the loss. But as a hockey player, and playing in the Stanley Cup Finals, that’s what we expect. And I thought it was a tremendous game played by both teams?
CHRIS OSGOOD: That’s exactly what I would have said. Even used my name in it, so it’s perfect. (Laughter).
Niklas Lidstrom and Henrik Zetterberg
Q. Are you more frustrated than anything else? You played a pretty good home game to come away empty handed. You must still feel confident considering how you played last night?
NICKLAS LIDSTROM: I thought we had a pretty solid games. I thought we had turnovers that they capitalized on. Against a skilled team, offensive team like that, you have to cut down on your turnovers. I thought we were guilty of that. I thought we did a good job in our own end, too. We knew they were going to come after us and put more pressure on us.
I think in the first period we played well. We had some quick passes, but overall, I think we can do a better job in our own end, too.
Q. Nick, you guys were up 2-0 in Nashville in the series and 3-0 in the Dallas series. What experience can you bring into this one?
NICKLAS LIDSTROM: You have to win four games. It’s not over after you’re up 2-0 or 2-1, even. You have to have that mentality that you have to stick with it for four wins. And whether it’s, if you win four straight or if you have to find ways to come back after a loss, that’s something we can learn from the first series that you mentioned.
It’s not going to be easy. They’re a very good team over there. And we know that, too, coming in.
Q. Nick, sometimes do you just have to shrug it off and say: You know, that 87 guy, he’s not too bad. And that was his night?
NICKLAS LIDSTROM: We know he was a good player. He’s proven that for the short time he’s been in the League. And we know that, too. And we have to continue to stay close to him and take his time and space away. And we’re together as a group of five on the ice. If we’re too spread out, they can come with speed and they can find the lanes and use their skill to their advantage.
We would have had to have continued to play tight against them.
Q. Nick, did you get the feeling that in that third period you guys were really coming on strong and you just ran out of time, and maybe if it was a few minutes longer, you would have caught them and tied it up? If so, can you carry the momentum in the next game or does it all start over?
NICKLAS LIDSTROM: We’re trying to take the good things we did with us to the next game. I thought we finished the game strong. We had some chances to tie the game up, as well. That’s something you want to build on. You want to carry it into Game 4 and take the good things with you. And I think that’s one of the things we can take with us that third period where we played real hard.
Q. Henrik, Mike said last night he thought he used you and Pavel too much, maybe the shift length got longer than he would like. How do you think you’ve played in the first three games, how would you assess your play?
HENRIK ZETTERBERG: I think last night, yeah, the shifts were a little too long. And that’s what happens when you want to do too much. And it’s easy to stay out a little bit longer. And you get tired.
Q. Can you talk about the way that your head coach kind of dictates the mood of the team at times. He came in here with the media, joking, good mood, talking about getting away from hockey. How is he controlling the mood of the team, and how does that influence you guys in a pressure situation?
NICKLAS LIDSTROM: I think he’s real good at knowing when to be a little looser on the group, knowing when to push us a little bit more at other times. I think he’s got a good feel of the group that he has, when to say - come out with those things, and when you have to not let the guard down and come after us a little bit.
So he’s been with us for three years. I think it’s been a learning process for him, too, to get to know the players. And I think he knows us real well as a group, and he knows when he can push us a little bit more.
HENRIK ZETTERBERG: I think he said it pretty good. He’s been with the team for a while now. And we had the core guys who have been here for a long time too. So he knows us pretty good, when he needs to push us, and when he needs to take it easy and have a little fun.
Q. Nick, behind the bench, compare Babcock compared to playing for Scotty Bowman, what’s the difference?
NICKLAS LIDSTROM: (Laughter). They’re similar in the way Scotty could be real intense, too, behind the bench and really stay on us. And other times he would kind of leave the team alone. And I see the same things with Babs too. I think Babs is more hands-on, where he’s involved in a lot more decisions than maybe Scotty was. I think Scotty used Barry Smith and Dave Lewis a little more because they had some experience, too.
So I think their coaching style is very similar, too, where they want to be the intense, don’t let the group be too loose at times, and at other times, you have to get on them a little bit. And knowing who to push and who to leave alone a little bit. So I think they both had that, how to react to different people, where some you have to stay on and push a little bit. Others you’re going to have to encourage a little bit. So I see a lot of similarities in that.
Q. Perhaps both could address this. One of the bright spots certainly for you guys last night was seeing the way Franzen played, when a guy comes back from injury, you never know how long it’s going to take to get the rust off. But looks like he hasn’t missed a beat?
HENRIK ZETTERBERG: You know, I think he missed six or seven games. And, of course, it takes a while to get back. And I think the first game he played real good, too, and he was skating well. And last night he scored a huge goal for us and it’s great to see him back on the scoring sheet. He’s been tremendous for us the whole playoffs.
Q. Nick, I know your group isn’t concerned about how you’ll bounce back, but I’m just wondering, even their coaches acknowledge how young they are and experienced. Do you think last night you missed an opportunity to make this easier than it could have been. You had them almost out in the first period, and 3-0 would have been insurmountable?
NICKLAS LIDSTROM: It would have been a lot better position for us. But you know, we’ve seen situations like this before where you want to get that third win, you want to get a good push. For whatever reason, the other team comes out and plays real well.
And I think we had a pretty good game, too, but they ended up on top. So for us, we know that we’ve got to get back to playing the way we can and put this game behind us and take the good things with us.
But it’s got to be tough. They’re playing real well, too. So you have to stick with the game plan that we have.
Q. What can the first power play unit do better?
HENRIK ZETTERBERG: We can be a little more desperate. I think shooting more shots. And I think last night we were a little bit too cute. We couldn’t get a puck to the net and be there for the second chances and for the rebounds.
So it’s something that we have to really do better. It’s a big part of the game. And we know we’re going to get some power play chances on Saturday.
Q. Henrik, are you aware, do you have like an internal clock that tells you when 35 seconds is up, and are you aware when you’re going too long or is anybody yelling at you to get off the ice?
HENRIK ZETTERBERG: You feel it in your legs. But sometimes if you’ve been on there for 30 seconds and you have a chance to go out for another rush, it’s tough to go to the bench. Sometimes you want to create some more offense. And sometimes you get caught out there, and you will pay for it in the end.
Q. The Penguins haven’t lost at home since back in February. What is it about this building that gives them the energy they need?
NICKLAS LIDSTROM: They seem to be playing real well at home. I think they feed off the fans here. I think last night they came out with lots of energy, and I think the fans really help them with that. I think they feel confident playing here at home.
So as a road team coming in here you have to play real well in your own end, and you have to make them play defense, too. I thought at times we were able to do that in that third period, but we have to stick with it even longer.
Q. What about the fact that they seemed a lot more relaxed once they got the lead in the game, which they hadn’t had earlier in the series?
NICKLAS LIDSTROM: I think the team that gets the first goal, it feels more confident, and the team that’s behind are pressing a little bit more. I think we’ve seen that in this series and previous series, too. And that’s one of the things that we’ve talked about that, stick to our game plan. Even if we’re down a goal or two, we have to continue to play with patience. But you can’t be pressing all over the ice and be vulnerable in the back end against a team like this.
So I think it’s very important to just keep your patience to wait for those chances that you’re going to get.
Q. Nick, can you talk a little bit about what it’s been like to be team captain? Do you approach the game any differently? Do you deal with players any differently than you did before?
NICKLAS LIDSTROM: I think I’m more vocal, especially, in the room, maybe than I was in the past as assistant captain. I try to talk to some of the younger players a little bit more. Encourage them and try to help them out a little bit. The same thing on the back end, too, with my defensive partners that you want to be a little bit more vocal and try and help them out.
And I do have lots of great help from the veteran players that we have on our team. Chris Chelios has been a captain before. Dallas Drake has been a captain. Draper has been around for a long time. And Maltby. It helps my job to have experienced players around me.
Q. When you guys went through this before in Nashville and Dallas and had an off day, what was the best way for you guys to kind of get away and relax and just not really dwell too much on the game or the situation and just make sure that the process was always moving forward?
HENRIK ZETTERBERG: Well, I think we have an extra day here now. And today we just will relax and try to think about something else than hockey. And tomorrow we will come back here and we will have a good skate and go over our game plan again and get focused, ready to go for Saturday.
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