Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Alanah McGinley on 06/03/08 at 05:16 PM ET
Q. Can you give us an update on Sergei Gonchar and where he’s at and what the expectation is for him for tomorrow night?
COACH MICHEL THERRIEN: We’re expecting that he’s going to be able to play tomorrow. So that’s a good sign.
Q. Secondly, asking the guys what it’s like physically to come here after a game like that. What’s it like for you? You come down to the rink today and you reflect on last night, what goes through your mind? What are you feeling today?
COACH MICHEL THERRIEN: Obviously it’s a great feeling to come to the rink and work for Game 6. It was a character win, there’s no doubt about that. And I give a lot of confidence to the players to approach our next game in a building that we’re comfortable to play.
In the meantime, it’s like we’re still focusing on Game 6. So there’s a lot of work to be done.
Q. You had a lot of options in the final minute of regulation, which extra attacker you would want on the ice, why is Talbot out in those situations?
COACH MICHEL THERRIEN: Just love the way that he played last night. The time he was on the ice, he was doing the right thing. And as a coach, you have to see those things. And he was good defensively as well. He was around the puck, around it at the right time.
And it’s a feeling, too, that coaches need to have at that time. And certainly he deserved to be there, and probably scored in the most important game of his career.
Q. Was that one of the greatest goaltending expeditions you’ve ever witnessed?
COACH MICHEL THERRIEN: I played with Patrick Roy a few years ago. In 1985 he was pretty good at that time. But definitely Marc‑Andre was phenomenal. What are you going to say about it? He made some key saves after key save in overtime, giving us a chance to hang in there.
They were pushing the envelope pretty big in the third period. And a few times in overtime. And he gave us a chance to win. Now he was just phenomenal.
Q. Mike, the willingness for Sergei Gonchar to play hurt at the end of the game and the competitiveness he has, is that something you feel is now coming into light for a national audience, that because of his demeanor people don’t necessarily equate to him?
COACH MICHEL THERRIEN: Well, he’s an important part of this hockey team, there’s no doubt about that. And obviously after the hit to the board that he took, he was not in a position to compete five‑on‑five. He had some back spasm. And the medical staff worked on him the rest of the game, and they came to see us before the third overtime that he felt pretty good.
But in the meantime, as a coach you have to ask the right question. Is he capable to stop and start? Is he able to compete in front of the net?
So they were not in a position to tell us that he was going to be able to compete around the net.
You don’t want to put your team in a tough position that we’re facing, and put the players in such a tough position like he was. So we decide we’re going to keep him on the bench, and if there’s a power play, we’re going to use him in a power play, because he’s such an important part of that power play. He’s the one carrying the puck. He’s the one making the right play. And obviously it paid off with a big goal.
Q. The situation with Ryan Malone, is his nose broken? Is he fine to go tomorrow night?
COACH MICHEL THERRIEN: He’s going to pass some tests this afternoon. We’re not quite sure yet. But I spoke to him after the game, and I’ll put it this way, I’ll be really surprised if he’s not playing.
Q. When you said passed some tests, is that just x‑rays?
COACH MICHEL THERRIEN: That’s right.
Q. A couple times in this series you’ve taken some criticism. You had to answer a ton of questions about people’s ice time and combinations and when you’re using people and I think been under fire at times. For you to win that game the way your team won that game and for the adjustments you’ve made to have worked, and I know the big picture is more important, but is there a certain redemption in it for you that what you did worked?
COACH MICHEL THERRIEN: You know what, it’s not about me. It’s about my team. It’s about my players, and it’s about our plan. So I respect opinions from people. I’ve got my own, and we’ve got our plan, and we’re going to stick to our plan.
Q. The Sykora‑Malkin line seemed to come on in overtime for you, maybe late in the third, as well. Maybe that was something that was lacking somewhat up to that point in the Final. If you get that line going consistently, how does that change things for you option‑wise?
COACH MICHEL THERRIEN: It’s huge. We need those players to be able to perform both sides of the ice. This is what playoffs is all about.
You’ve got to make sure you’re strong defensively, you’re strong on the puck. In the meantime, you have to be able to produce at the right time, and I like that line with Ruutu in overtime. And we were rotating four line, because there’s no TV timeout. And both teams was rotating their fourth line. It’s really demanding on the players, and they played really well in the overtime.
Q. If your team plays the same way in Game 6 as it did last night, do you think that’s enough to win?
COACH MICHEL THERRIEN: That’s a game that could have gone both sides. Honestly, Fleury made some key saves. Yeah, it’s really a character game we played. I like the way we start the first two periods. Osgood made some key saves for them, because we could have put that game away early in the second period. We got some tremendous, great scoring chances. They really pushed it in the third period.
But like Game 4, I said that it could have gone both ways. Yesterday, it could have gone both ways, too, as well. So one thing is important that we still get a lot of work to be done. Confidence‑wise, no doubt, it’s a huge confidence builder for that young team, to be able to win in that building. And especially the way that we played our two first games.
And we’re just going to concentrate on Game 6. Let’s make sure, this our last game in Pittsburgh, and we’re going to have to really make sure it’s going to be pretty special.
Q. You guys have fought through adversity throughout the regular season with injuries, with the slow start. What was the sense you got on the bench when the Red Wings took the lead yesterday? Was it a sense of calmness on your bench because these guys knew they could fight through that stuff?
COACH MICHEL THERRIEN: Like you said, we’ve been through a lot of adversity through the course of the season. And sometimes you could face adversity through the course of games, and help you in the past that you were capable to accomplish big things, accomplish big come‑backs. And this is a team that always did that, and not only in the regular season, at times maybe in the playoffs.
But I got the feeling that there was no panicking. We needed a break. We got the break. We got that loose puck around the net when Talbot scored the tying goal.
And you need breaks to win hockey games. And there’s no doubt yesterday, that was a break that we got.
Q. You talked about the confidence that your team can build from a win like that. Can you talk specifically about the fact that you came from behind on them, because you hadn’t been able to do that yet. And if you happened to not score the first goal in the next game, how just having done that, maybe changes the way the players will be feeling about it?
COACH MICHEL THERRIEN: Emotionally it was a tough game, too, to play, because we got such a great start. And the confidence was there. They pushed the envelope. Now we’re trailing by one goal. And a few mistakes that we’re doing. So it was kind of a roller coaster. But you have to make sure you keep your composure when things don’t go your way.
We called a timeout to settle down the players to make sure they were focused. It didn’t work well at that time, because they ended up scoring the third goal.
But it’s about believing. You have to believe you’re capable to do what you’re supposed to do. If you keep working, and if you keep focusing on their structure, good things are going to happen.
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