Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Alanah McGinley on 05/16/11 at 06:37 PM ET
From the Q&A session with coach Todd McLellan and Logan Couture of the San Jose Sharks.
*today’s Canucks transcripts here.
Q. (No microphone.)
COACH McLELLAN: I thought that line wasn’t very sharp. It was a little sluggish, didn’t produce a lot. Not a direct reflection on Logan by any means, because there were three of them there. But they can be better.
Q. Joe Thornton is always the center of the attention. He’s been criticized for his playoff performances in the past. Can you talk about his performance in this year’s playoff?
COACH McLELLAN: I’ll go backwards and start from last year. Last year I thought he showed good signs of growth, the ability to lead the team. As a result, when we were looking at our vacant captaincy, he proved to us last year he was a deserving candidate. We picked him.
Throughout the year he’s had an excellent season. Many will say his numbers are down, which they obviously are. But ultimately I think the results are up when you look at his play. That may sound strange, but I truly believe he’s come a long way. His leadership ability in the locker room is very strong. I think he does it as much by example now on the ice as he does it verbally in the locker room. He’s come a long, long way.
Q. You said if you perform the same way, you’ll get the same result. You watched video. Did anything show up on the video?
COACH McLELLAN: It looked very much like the game itself. We weren’t surprised this morning at all. As much as we were hoping to see a different game, it was that game. We were slow. We didn’t get to the battles that we needed to get to. When we get there, quite frankly, we were out-battled. It’s as simple as that. I can’t paint any more of a picture than that.
That will have to change.
Q. Teams perform at a Game 7 level very differently when they come back for another game of a series.
COACH McLELLAN: Didn’t seem to bother this Canuck team against Nashville. We can keep looking back and referring to it. But the quicker we eliminate that and we move on, the better opportunity we have of overcoming it.
Q. (Question regarding Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Demers.)
COACH McLELLAN: I’ll start with Marc-Edouard who I think is one of the most underrated defensemen at least in the Western Conference. As you mentioned, when you’re out east, it’s hard to follow us, so you don’t truly appreciate his ability.
He’s not going to put up big numbers, but he plays huge minutes against very talented players. He’s one of the best defenders I believe in the National Hockey League. Very mobile, very good stick, quietly goes about doing his job.
Jason Demers has improved his game immensely since he joined our organization. Started in the minors. Wasn’t a highly thought of prospect, but worked his way to the National League. Has very good hockey sense. Makes a real good first pass. Plays with a little risk in his game, which we have to accept because it’s part of what makes him a good player.
Q. Talk about Patrick Marleau.
COACH McLELLAN: Patty scored a huge goal for us in Game 7. He did a lot of things leading up to Game 7 that we appreciated. He lost some battles along the way, just like anybody else would.
But we count on him. I mentioned in the past that our use of him, his amount of ice time, is a direct reflection of how much we believe in him and how much his teammates believe in him.
Again, last night he found a way to get on the scoreboard. He’s a streaky scorer, which is a good sign for us right now. If he can put a three, four, five-game streak together, it certainly would be to our benefit.
Q. The issue of closing out games more to the forefront than you’d like? What has to change there?
COACH McLELLAN: You know, I guess we’re talking about giving up leads. But when you look back throughout our playoff run, now 14 games in, we have given up some leads, but we’ve also had to come back from behind in 4-0 scenarios, 3-0 scenarios on the road where we showed a ton of resiliency.
We can look at the negative or bad, which we obviously have to improve. I thought last night they were flat out better than we were in the third period. They scored the goals, earned the power-plays. In the other series where we were able to come back, we did the exact same thing against our opponent.
A lot of times it’s managing the puck, putting it in the right area, so you feel good about your game, and not all your energy is wasted in the defensive zone. We did that last night. In past games when we’ve been able to come back, we’ve done that to our opponent.
Q. In addition to getting your guys to win the battles they didn’t win this time, do you see other adjustments you need to adjust?
COACH McLELLAN: Yes.
Q. Anything in general?
COACH McLELLAN: No. Like you said, we’re always looking for ways to improve.
Q. Clowe and Pavelski, can you go over what you got from them and didn’t get from them last night?
COACH McLELLAN: We talked about Logan’s line. Obviously Ryane Clowe plays a huge part in that. I didn’t think Clowe and Heater skated really well. They’ll be the first to tell you that. When they are skating well, huge bodies, they protect pucks well. They didn’t get to them. They’ll be markedly better in Game#2.
Pav has had some better nights, as well.
The good news is we had a 2-1 lead in the third period. We lost it. But we definitely had our B game on display. We’d like to find that A game again.
Q. Do these two days take care of the mental and physical fatigue you talked about last night?
COACH McLELLAN: We’ll find out Wednesday.
Q. (No microphone.)
COACH McLELLAN: I wasn’t working hard at all to keep him away from Kesler. They played head-to-head most of the night. Any change came on their behalf. I put him on the ice; he played. There was no intent to get him away.
I think Jumbo has played against some of the best players in the world so far, Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, some of the Los?@Angeles Kings players. I put Ryan Kesler in that boat. We’re going to continue to put him out on the ice. Whoever they put out against him, Jumbo is going to have to get it done.
Q. Can you evaluate Niemi last night, what you expect from him.
COACH McLELLAN: I thought Niemo, again, gave us a chance to win. Clichés, coach, that’s all they ask from their goaltenders.
Vancouver is a very good team at getting pucks through from the point. They have some guys that can really bomb it, often score on second opportunities. I thought Niemo did a good job of controlling that rebound and second-opportunity chance. So he was sharp.
Q. Todd, how do you feel about your team’s conditioning and physical fitness? In your experience in the NHL playoffs, does the bigger, thicker body do well as it goes forward or is it the skinnier body that handles it better?
COACH McLELLAN: I feel very, very good about our conditioning and fitness level. I don’t have any doubts that we can play deep into games and well into overtime if we have to.
I don’t think there’s a team probably in the history of the National Hockey League that gets to this point if they’re poorly conditioned. So I have absolutely no second thoughts as far as conditioning goes.
I think it’s a combination of big bodies and I think you used the term ‘marathon’ term. You need a combination of both. Torrey Mitchell and Mason Raymond have a huge impact on the series, as do the Ryan Keslers and Joe Thorntons. The Doug Murrays, the thicker, stronger, the bull in the china shop, they have an impact on the series, as well. You need a combination of both.
Q. Your thoughts on Setoguchi’s performance last night?
COACH McLELLAN: You know, you could keep running out player after player after player and I’ll keep giving you the same answer: we need more from everybody.
Seto has the ability, like Torrey Mitchell, to make a difference with speed. He’s got the ability to make a difference with a shot. You have to be in position. You have to be setting yourself up for all those to be factors.
I think overall we can all be better.
LOGAN COUTURE: I built the confidence up. Whoever I’m with on the ice, I feel confident. You look at the last series, there was a time when I was with (indiscernible), there were times I was with Clowe and Heater. Last year and this year with the success, definitely helps the confidence.
Q. Across the stat sheet last night you looked pretty good. Are you happy with your personal play?
LOGAN COUTURE: I mean, no, not really. We lost. That’s the first thing I care about is how our team does. We didn’t play well. There’s four teams left and we didn’t play like one of the best four teams in the league.
You can put out any excuses, but it was definitely us that lost that game. They didn’t really do anything out of the ordinary. It’s one we didn’t play well.
Q. Is hanging on to third-period leads become more of an issue than you guys would like?
LOGAN COUTURE: I don’t think so. Someone said it last night, that we’ve blown a couple of third-period leads. I hadn’t even thought of that until that was said.
I mean, I don’t even think we changed the style of play. We just turned pucks over. We looked at some video this morning. We had so many turnovers in the third period. Can’t do that against that type of team. They’re too good.
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