Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Alanah McGinley on 05/27/08 at 05:02 PM ET
The media had some questions today for Penguins coach, Michel Therrien. Transcript is below.
Q. A couple of your players last night after the game said that they thought the style that you guys had used to great success to get to this point wasn’t working because of what Detroit was doing. What can you do as a coach to switch up the strategy on this? Does it need to be switched up?
COACH MICHEL THERRIEN: First of all, you’re not coming to the Stanley Cup Final and start to change all your system. It takes years that players feel comfortable. That’s not the way it works.
You have give credit to the Red Wings. They played well. They played well in their building. This is a tough place to play. Yesterday, I liked our work ethic. I think our intensity was there. We have all the reasons in the world to be optimistic as well for Game No. 3. As good as the Red Wings is in their building, we are as good at home, too.
And it’s demanding to win on the road. It’s demanding. We haven’t lost a game in two months in our building. We feed from our crowd. It’s tough to play on the road. And we’re going to be ‑ another time we’re going to be a tough team to play when we’re at home.
And we addressed it with the players briefly before their optional practice. And we feel that our concentration’s got to be on Game 3. That’s all that matters to us right now. And after that, we win Game 3, but momentum could change.
Q. You have been on the other side of this, being up 2‑0 in the previous three series, but you hate to use the term “must win” and this isn’t a clinching game but you don’t want to be down 3‑0. But is this a must win?
COACH MICHEL THERRIEN: This is an important game, let me put it this way.
Q. I think certainly a lot of hockey fans in Canada were looking forward to the series between the two talented top teams. People are wondering what’s happened. It seems from the outside to be so one‑sided after the first two games. How do you explain what’s happened, and what’s your assessment of that and people’s perception of the relative noncompetitive nature of it?
COACH MICHEL THERRIEN: Well, honestly, I truly believe the first game, our young team was really nervous. We fell behind early in the game yesterday, and this is a team that it’s tough to generate offense with the obstruction that they’re doing.
But you know what, they’re doing it the right way. It’s like there’s a dotted line. Sometimes they’ll cross it a little bit. And that goes with experience. It’s tough to generate offense. And you need to score dirty goals. The tic‑tac‑toe play, sometimes it’s going to happen. But most of the time you’re going to put the puck at the net, and you’re going to crash the net.
This is where it’s tough for us. Because Osgood, like we saw yesterday on Malone, he’s there to go in front of the net. If he’s going to go at the players and fell down, it’s tough to score dirty goals. And he’s good at it.
So because you’re not going in front of the net, you still have to go in front of the net to score those dirty goals. But in the meantime, there’s a line. You have to leave the player in the front of the net to get the rebounds, because if the goalie is going to challenge the players and fell down, then you’re going to have two minutes of penalty, because you’re in front of the net. Malone’s intention was not to go to hit the goalie. This is not something we’re doing.
He went in front of the net, and Osgood challenged him and he fell. Sykora was trying to retrieve the puck, and he played well, Osgood. He moved the puck, and he went on Sykora and fell down. Osgood did the same thing against Dallas, against Ribeiro. But we’re still going try to be there and try to score those ugly goals, give us some confidence. But there’s a fine line.
Q. Are you thinking of making a lineup change? Are you thinking of using Darryl Sydor at this point?
COACH MICHEL THERRIEN: We’ll see tomorrow.
Q. How do you describe the confidence level, especially among your forwards, some of the chances you have got, missed the net, things like that? How do you feel the confidence level is?
COACH MICHEL THERRIEN: Well, obviously we need to generate a lot more offense than we did in the last two games. That’s not a secret. I mean, better puck support, attack with speed, taking better decisions with the puck.
We need to use our speed a lot more than we did. But in the meantime, they did a great job to take away our speed. So we’ve got to move our feet. It’s tough to ‑ I think the power play could generate some confidence to a team. And last night, well they played, I believe, like four minutes and 10 seconds.
So that’s not a lot compared to 13 minutes for them. So going to try to keep focusing on our work ethic and focusing on little details that I believe we could be better, the way we’re supposed to play regarding our system.
So when we’re focusing on those things, we’ll be able to generate more offense.
Q. You’ve done obviously a really good job coaching this team to this point. This is clearly your biggest hurdle at this time, to try to figure this thing out and figure it out in a hurry. Is this a tactics thing with your players? Is this something you have to teach them here, or is this something where you have to get them here in the heart and get them to play better somehow, someway?
COACH MICHEL THERRIEN: First of all, their heart is there. This is a team that we don’t have much experience. There’s a reason why we’re here, because this is a team that really battles. And they’re never going to give up.
Yesterday, I liked their intensity. We have to make sure we’re focusing on the things we have to do. And sometimes when things don’t go your way, for a young group, you could get a tendency to get out of the game plan, try to do too much.
By doing too much, you’re not going to accomplish a lot of things. So it’s the way that we’ve seen with that young team, we do a lot of videos and try to make sure that we’re sharp, first of all, physically. I believe we’re sharp. I think our desire is there. But we’ve got to make sure we’re sharp mentally too, as well.
Q. Given the amount the Zetterberg line is playing, how much of an effort will you try to make them get away from Sidney’s line?
COACH MICHEL THERRIEN: If you break down the ice time, the difference with Zetterberg, that is most of their special teams. Yesterday we went with three lines most of the time, and they went three lines most of the time.
They got 13 minutes of power play. We got four. I like to give roles to players, and we got guys who kills penalties. This is their role. There are offensive guys, they’re not always on the ice to kill penalties. They were at times yesterday because we were down by two goals or three goals at times, and this is where you have to take chances, you have no choice.
But we’re still young. We’re talking about guys ‑ you make comparison about guys who are 20, 21 years old against other guys. So there’s a process. And in that process, we, two years ago, were not expecting we’re going to be in the Stanley Cup Final with that young group. But we surprised a lot of people that we’re here so quickly.
But there’s still a process to be made. Regarding ice line, five on five, it’s the same. Power play, if we would have had 13 minutes of power play yesterday compared to four, you would have ended up to say Crosby/Malkin would be more ice time.
So one thing you have to pay attention, you gotta break down even strength, power play, PK.
Q. Is there a chance we’ll see Crosby and Malkin together five on five?
COACH MICHEL THERRIEN: We would do it at times. We do it at times.
Q. You’ve talked a little bit about the work ethic and the penalties. Do you feel that through the first two games your team has worked hard enough, and would you like to see them work even harder?
COACH MICHEL THERRIEN: I really believe yesterday we worked hard. We worked hard. First game we were tense. And it’s pretty normal to be tense. When you’re 19 years old, when you’re 20 years old, and when you’re 21 years old, you play your first Stanley Cup Final so quickly, I spoke to a few guys after the first game. And they were nervous.
And I believe it’s normal. But I thought yesterday our work ethic is there. Our desire was there. We need to be better in a few things, but this is a tough place to play. You have to realize that. We only lost one game and Turco was outstanding. He was making the breakout, and he got two assists that night. So they’re a good team.
Q. When you break down the tape of the first two games, how many scoring chances are you getting, and how does that compare to what you were getting against Philly or the Rangers in the past two rounds?
COACH MICHEL THERRIEN: Obviously, they play well defensively. We haven’t scored. So we generate less coin chance against Detroit than we have in the past.
Q. In the three previous series, your team had an uncanny ability of breaking the spirit of the team you were playing against at the right time. You were up 2‑0. You went in their building all three times and ended any hope they had of making that a series. How do you avoid now having your team’s spirit broken early tomorrow or some point tomorrow night?
COACH MICHEL THERRIEN: Like I said earlier, it’s a crucial game. It could be a crucial game for both teams. Not only for us, but them as well. I like the confidence of our team in our building. The Red Wings played with a lot of confidence in their building.
And we do play with a lot of confidence in our building. And you have to be a good home team to be in the Final. And they’re a good home team to go to the Final. That’s one of the reasons why. And we are a good home team. And that’s why we are optimistic for tomorrow.
Q. There’s obviously, before the series, a lot of talk about the amount of Stanley Cups they won, their experience as well. Do you at all worry your guys may be giving them too much credit at this point?
COACH MICHEL THERRIEN: Well, they play well. What do you want me to say? They don’t play well? They play well. But I thought yesterday our work ethic is there. So we’ve still got to focus on the work ethic, we’ve got to make some adjustments about our concentration. A few times there’s stuff I didn’t like. And we’ll be fine. We’ll be fine.
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