Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Alanah McGinley on 06/03/08 at 07:11 PM ET
Q. Chris, could you talk about the mood of the team, maybe compare it as it is right now as to maybe immediately following the end of last night’s game?
CHRIS OSGOOD: We were all right after the game. We played hard. It was another great game. We just fell in the wrong end. That’s the way we looked at it. It was an end to end game. We had plenty of chances. It just didn’t happen. Sometimes it’s a game of bounces. It didn’t go our way, but we managed to fight back.
It didn’t happen. We have another opportunity tomorrow night, and that’s what we’re looking forward to.
Q. Brian, I want to ask you about 2000, went through a similar situation, had a chance to win Game 5 at home, lose in triple overtime. Talk about the emotional recovery of that, getting back to win the next night on the road.
BRIAN RAFALSKI: It was obviously difficult, and it was another close game. And it just comes down to determination, refocusing and getting ready to play the next game.
And still have a great opportunity here, and that’s how you have to look at it. No one said it’s going to be easy. And it’s not going to happen, and obviously didn’t happen in five games. Now we have to take advantage of our chances.
Q. How tough was that to get over that loss and focus for the next game?
BRIAN RAFALSKI: You’re tired. You make sure you hydrate and make sure you do the things you have to do. Being your first opportunity, you’re still in a great situation. So you don’t want to look past that. So it’s not that hard to move forward, because you still have an opportunity here. So to say we were down or anything like that, that wasn’t the case. We stayed focused and did what we had to do.
Q. Pavel Datsyuk went through a long streak where he didn’t score and people wondered about him as a playoff performer. I don’t think anybody is questioning him now. Can you talk about his emergence as a playoff star and what the difference might be?
KRIS DRAPER: I think with Pavel, certainly people were talking about his playoff failures, he wasn’t healthy. A couple of years ago when he came into the playoffs, he ended up missing, I think, the last 12 of 14 games with a real bad charley horse.
And now, a healthy Pavel Datsyuk, we saw last year what he can do. He’s picked up where he left off. He’s doing everything. He’s leading our team in hits. He’s scoring big goals for us. He’s penalty killing and on the power play. He’s emerged as a solid, great two way hockey player.
And that’s something that you love to see. In games like tomorrow night, that’s what you expect, that your big players are going to be your big players. And that’s what he’s been all year for us.
Q. Chris, can you comment on Pavel?
CHRIS OSGOOD: I just think he’s matured as a player. He’s a more all around player than he was previously. He’s great at all ends of the rink. His best attribute, he’s great defensively. He’s great at stealing pucks and going the opposite direction. He’s the type of guy that makes guys better around him. He’s still a young player. When he first came into the playoffs, I don’t think he was playing poorly at all. To be honest with you, he was just a little snake bitten. He’s been one of the leaders throughout the playoffs. He’s a great all around player. And he’s kind of following the path of what Stevie, when Stevie left, he was an all around player for us and a great leader. We have a bunch of guys like that that are young right now.
Q. How have you guys been able to close out the series on the road and keep that focus in the Nashville, Colorado and the Dallas series, now you get another chance tomorrow night on the road?
KRIS DRAPER: We’re a confident team. We’re a confident group. We feel that we can come into another team’s building and be successful.
And obviously, like you said, all three of our when we closed opponents out, it’s been in another team’s building. And I think that’s a great, great characteristic to have.
So here we go again. We would have loved to have been able to wrap things up, but that wasn’t the case. And we got another crack at it. Like Raf said, we’re still up 3 2 in the series, and we have another opportunity to close Pittsburgh out.
So with that we’re going to need a lot of composure, very confident, and go out and play a great hockey game. And then we’ll see what happens.
Q. Chris, I’d like your thoughts on Cleary’s goaltender interference penalty. In your view, was it a case of a penalty or a player driving hard to the net?
CHRIS OSGOOD: I think it was more a case of a player driving hard to the net. When you’re taking a shot on the goalie, you’re pushed in, you have a lot of speed, it’s hard to stop. You can’t stop on a dime. And when you’re driving the net, you get a shot on the net, and you brush the goalie, I don’t think it’s a penalty, especially at that particular time of the game. It was a little bit I don’t think it was proper. We get hit all the time when guys drive the net in the regular season. And we don’t have a problem with it.
It seems to me like there’s such a gray area for that rule right now that it needs to be addressed.
Q. Could you address what was going on with the start last night? It seemed like you guys were uptight and such. And Draper, could you talk about Darren Helm. I know he’s modeling his game after you and what you’ve seen from him in the playoffs?
KRIS DRAPER: Last night, obviously, wasn’t a great start for our team. But we’re very proud with the way we responded after we fell behind and came charging back and made it a hockey game. So that’s very important for our club, the way we were able to respond.
With regards to Helmer, he’s playing great hockey. He’s a great kid. He’s taking this all in. He’s playing a huge role for our team. He was on the ice for Hud’s game winning goal in Game 4, and he was able to score yesterday.
And he’s going to continue to get better. His work ethic is very good. He’s a great skater. And the Detroit Red Wings are going to see a lot of Darren Helm over the years here with the way he can skate, and the calmness that he has with the puck. And he’s going to continue to improve.
Q. I’m sure you guys have put it behind you now, but how sickening is it to know that that trophy is being wheeled out, close to the sideboards, and there’s 35 seconds left and all that’s left is to party?
CHRIS OSGOOD: I wasn’t really aware of that, that it was being wheeled out. I was more trying to focus on trying to keep it out of the net.
You don’t really think about it at the time of it. Afterwards, you might breeze through your mind a few times that you’re close, but you can’t really do anything about it after.
There’s no way you can take it back. There’s no way there’s just no reason to dwell on it, because you can’t change what happened. All you can do is look forward to the next game and prepare yourself.
But you think about it for a second, yeah, but that was it, really. And you just move on and you take a deep breath and you feel confident that we’re still in a good position. We knew it was going to be tough.
We knew it wasn’t going to be easy. It never is. And we’ll be ready to play our best game tomorrow night. That’s the way we’re approaching it.
Q. In between shifts at times, do you ever have enough time to appreciate how good the game looks on television, how entertaining a series it is, how intense it is, just how it’s probably being perceived outside those walls?
KRIS DRAPER: We’ve heard a lot of positive things about this series. I mean, you’re talking about great hockey players on both sides. We have the best defenseman in the game right now in Nick Lidstrom. Two of the best two way hockey players in Zetterberg and Datsyuk. Pittsburgh, with the young stars that they have, Malkin, Crosby, Staal.
I mean, we said it right from the start. This had the makings of being a great series. And we feel that’s exactly what it’s going to be. Like Ozzie said, we knew this wasn’t going to be easy.
It’s a very good hockey team. They’re a confident team, especially playing in their home rink. And so it’s going to be a huge test for us tomorrow night. But when you think about it, you know in the Stanley Cup Final, you know it’s going to be entertaining. And I think this series has been a lot of fun to be a part of.
Q. Kris, physically, how tough is it to get past a game like yesterday?
KRIS DRAPER: It’s more mental, to be honest with you. I think physically you wake up in the morning, here we are back in Pitt, just realizing you have to reenergize. You have to recharge. And you have to be ready to go.
As soon as we’re looking forward to getting a good skate in tomorrow, and this is the time of year that you love being in these situations. It was an unbelievable game. We had some tremendous opportunities for our team to end it. It didn’t happen, and now you’ve got to come back. That’s what makes the Stanley Cup so worthwhile with everything that you throw into it.
It’s so worth it, and that’s something that we realize. And now it’s a matter of getting decent sleep tonight and getting back at it tomorrow night. It’s going to be a great atmosphere. Like Raf and Ozzie said, we’re going to be ready to go.
Q. How much does it help the fact that you guys have already won here, you won Game 4, and you were the only team to win in this building all playoffs long?
CHRIS OSGOOD: It helps. But we’ve never played here all year either, that’s what we said. They played strictly all other teams, especially in the Eastern Conference. We’re a confident road team. We’ve done really good on the road all year. We’ve won in every single building, in tough places to play, we relish it. We enjoy playing on the road; we have fun with it; we like the pressure of it. And I think when we play on the road, it brings out the best in our team. It has all year, and it will again tomorrow night.
Q. Nick, do you at all worry or think about the fact that they’re a young team, they may have gotten a lot of confidence from what they were able to do last night to come back like that, to get contributions from people who really maybe hadn’t been contributing, or do you just focus on your own game?
NICKLAS LIDSTROM: We know we have to focus on our own game. We know that coming off a win, they’re going to be a confident team. We’re feeling the same way after a win, too.
So on the losing end, when you come back for the next one, we know we have to be even more prepared. And you have to get your rest and be ready to play again. So that’s the way you’re approaching it when you didn’t win. We know we have to tighten up defensively and play a little bit better.
But we had great chances, too. You have to take some of the good things we did with us to the next game.
Q. Because of the circumstances last night and getting so close and then giving up the goal late like that, did you feel an obligation to talk about it with the players, as your role in captain, that you wouldn’t have done so before, but as a captain have you done more than you normally would?
NICKLAS LIDSTROM: We did talk about the game, before the game last night, too, what we wanted to do. And we’re going to have our meetings here tonight and go over the game that we played and what we have to do tomorrow.
So it will be things will be said tonight, things we have to do better. And me, as the captain, I’ll say a few things as well. That we still have a great opportunity to win. And even though we lost last night, we didn’t play a bad game. We had some great chances, and things didn’t go our way. And they played real well. They hung in there, and they got the tying goal. And played well in overtime, too.
But like I said, I thought we did a lot of good things that we did that we can take to the next game.
Q. Along those lines, what do you say to the team to address the uptightness that you guys played with in the first period? And also, can I get your thoughts on the goalie interference penalties you guys took in the overtimes?
NICKLAS LIDSTROM: I think we’re a bit tentative in the first period last night. Once we got our legs, I thought we started playing a lot better. And I thought we were controlling the game the second or third period.
And when you’re playing well, and when you’re not winning, you have to look at the positive things that you did and continue to tell the players to play with confidence.
We can’t be hesitant. When we are that, that’s when we’re not reacting quick enough and kind of waiting for them to make a play. And that’s not the way we play, either.
So we have to play with a lot more confidence. And talking about the calls last night, I thought on both calls that the players tried to get out of the way. And sometimes you get the call and sometimes they get the call. And that’s just the way things work out.
Q. But in overtime?
NICKLAS LIDSTROM: Yeah, like I said, we probably thought we could have had a couple more power plays that weren’t called, but that’s the way it is in playoffs. And you have to live with it and play through it. And we did kill off those two penalties, too.
Q. Nick, last year in the Anaheim series you kind of lost a game similarly disappointing, and then it seemed to kind of carry over into the next game in Game 6. Are you concerned that the same thing might happen again, and how do you avoid that by getting off to a better start?
NICKLAS LIDSTROM: Well, I think we have to stick to our game plan. That’s something we said all along, that we are confident playing on the road. We have had some success this year’s playoff to play on the road as well.
But we can’t, like I said, we can’t be hesitant. That’s when we’re not playing at our best. And you have to encourage the players and talk to the players, what we have to do. And trust your players, too, that they’re going to do their jobs and you do yours so you don’t have to go out of your way to do someone else’s job, because that’s usually when bad things happen, too.
Q. After throwing everything at Fleury last night, is there any concern he’s starting to get into your heads now?
NICKLAS LIDSTROM: I still think we had some great chances to score. He did play a real solid game. Played real well for him. But I think we can do a better job of creating traffic in front of him. Be there for second chances. And I think that’s how we’re eventually going to win, by continuing to shoot the puck. We had a lot of shots, a lot of scoring chances come off, too. But when you have traffic, that will make his job a lot more tougher, too.
Q. Most of the guys that came out before you said it’s harder emotionally to recover than physically. That’s the latest anybody has ever scored to tie a game when facing elimination. The Cup was out. The T shirts were out. The champagne was chilled. How tough is it to know that you were that close and still be here playing?
NICKLAS LIDSTROM: When you’re in the middle of everything, you don’t think about that. You’re so focused of getting the game over. And I think it’s afterwards when you realize we did have a great chance to win last night. But we didn’t.
So that’s it. You have to put that behind you and move on to the next game. And I think that with the experience, I think that helps, too. And it does sting right after when you had a chance, but that’s the beauty of sports. You have to be ready to play the next one again.
Q. With that being said, can you compare the mood of the team immediately following last night as opposed to today? Have you seen a change, guys starting to put you guys are human beings, too, it can’t be easy to put this behind you, right?
NICKLAS LIDSTROM: I think the mood of the team was fairly good today coming over here on the flight. And guys know that we have to be prepared. And I think everybody didn’t get a whole lot of sleep last night. It was a late game. We were up fairly early, too. So it will be a good day today to rest, get a good night’s sleep and be ready to go tomorrow again.
But I think with the experience that we have we can put a game like that behind us and just be focused on the next one.
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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