Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 05/11/07 at 05:02 PM ET
Mike Babcock and Randy Carlyle met with the media today…
Q. Tell me what Dan Cleary has meant to your team in these playoffs?
COACH MIKE BABCOCK: He’s a great person, a good, good player. He’s worked hard enough over the last while in his career to get his game back. He’s a physical guy for us. He played on our puck-control unit there with Draper and Maltby. He’s good on the power play, real good on the penalty kill. He plays hard.
He was a child phenom. It got away from him. Through maturity and work ethic, he turned out to be the real good player in the league that he is.
Q. Kris Draper suggested one of the reasons this is a better team than last year is its willingness to go to the net and stay there. Is that your assessment as well?
COACH MIKE BABCOCK: Well, it’s one of the things. I just think we’re a team that plays on the inside more than the outside. But, you know, I’ve watched the two previous teams just by going through the tapes that played against Anaheim and they didn’t have enough of that.
Is that ‘cause they don’t let you or is that ‘cause they weren’t willing? We’ll find out. That’s why you play these series.
Q. Just building off of that, do you expect even larger roles to be played by guys like Todd Bertuzzi and Tomas Holmstrom in front of the net to make sure that front is secure and everything there is taken care of?
COACH MIKE BABCOCK: We want to have a net-front presence. In order to have a net-front presence you have to play in their zone firstly, then you have to be willing too retrieve pucks, get it back, get it back to the net. Those people have that ability but so does Franzen and Cleary. Everyone on our team has to get to the net. You can’t play on the outside if you’re going to score at playoff time.
Giguere and Hasek are not going to let goals in from the outside. They’re not going to let goals in they see. You’re going to have to at this point them, you’re going to have to screen them, you’re going to have to get seconds off them. In order to do that, you better get to the hard areas.
Q. Can you comment on how Chris Chelios has handled the Players’ Association business?
COACH MIKE BABCOCK: No, I don’t know anything about it. All I know is what he does here. I’m not trying to be rude. I got nothing.
Q. For a lot of guys, it would be a big distraction.
COACH MIKE BABCOCK: He has 500 phone calls a day. He’s got more going on than anybody I know. You know, that’s probably why he’s played so long. He doesn’t spend much time worrying about hockey. He comes, puts his stuff on, plays. He’s got businesses all over. He’s got more people, he’s got more guests. You should have seen during the World Series and stuff. It’s unbelievable how many people this guy knows. So he’s a busy guy.
Q. Dustin Penner’s willingness and ability to go to the net, did that improve during the season?
COACH RANDY CARLYLE: I think you’d have to say it did improve. Obviously it’s been well documented that at times maybe not enough. But he’s a young player. Again, in our situation he was able to find a niche with Getzlaf and Perry. At times we’ve moved other people in there. We have the ability to move them with Marchant, because there was a huge comfort zone playing with him before.
Dustin has the ability to control the puck down low, be a big, strong guy that’s tough to move out in front of the net. We try to utilize him to his strengths.
Q. Talk to me about Corey Perry and how his experience is gaining now into his second year of the playoffs.
COACH RANDY CARLYLE: I think, as any young player, they had baptism by fire last year against Calgary in the first round, then Colorado, then into the games against Edmonton. But it was important for them, from a learning curve, to understand how much pressure there is and how desperate you have to play.
Corey Perry is a player that seems to be getting better every game. He seems to be adjusting to his role even more so that he’s an offensive dangerous player. He’s got a tremendous amount of skill. We feel very fortunate to have that type of skill in our lineup.
Q. Coach, just a comment about Todd Marchant. What sort of thing does Marchant bring to your lineup? You haven’t had him in there for a bit. Obviously outside of the leadership point of view, what does he bring to your club?
COACH RANDY CARLYLE: Again, any time you have the ability to add some veteran presence, from a playoff warrior to a defensive skating center ice man, it just gives you more flexibility.
He’s had the ability to raise the level of his game in the playoffs historically. I know it’s difficult to put that type of pressure on that individual now after missing close to six weeks. It’s one of those things that there’s no time like the present. He understands the situation he’s in. We’re going to rely on him to, again, come back into our lineup. We’ll monitor his ice time probably for the first shift. After that, we’ll register how well he is playing for us, what he’s giving us.
Q. Randy, do you see the series particularly tough to generate offense given the amount of talent that there is out there on defense and in goal? Do you think goals will really be at a premium?
COACH RANDY CARLYLE: I don’t know. You know, the new rules, hockey should allow for more offense being displayed in the games. But I don’t think that’s true so far in the playoffs.
From game to game, from series to series, you never really can predict what’s going to happen. I know both hockey clubs have provided a quality level of defense. The games I feel will be close.
Q. How much tougher was it for guys to evaporate in front of the net under the old rules than it is now under the new rules?
COACH RANDY CARLYLE: It’s much easier now. The defensemen aren’t allowed the ability to use the stick to direct people away from the net. They’re not allowed to impede progress. All those things play into it, being much more difficult to let the player camp out in front of the net. Now it’s a point where they have the freedom to utilize their size and strength. It’s all about getting inside on people. That’s why you see a lot more coincidental contact with the goalies, whatnot.
There’s a huge stress point put on you cannot allow a player to interfere with the goaltender’s ability to stop the puck. There’s a fine line. It just puts more pressure on the officiating. For the players, they’re going to try to camp out in there. It just puts a lot of pressure on everybody to make sure you don’t push yourself over the line and go too far.
Q. A lot of talk was made about Vancouver’s lack of offense. Do you think it was their lack of offense or your defense?
COACH RANDY CARLYLE: I don’t know. I think it was a battle of two teams fighting for space on the ice. I think in the series, if you look at it, dissect it, there was one major hurdle that we were able to overcome. We scored power-play goals. We were fortunate enough to get on the right side of the specialty team’s battle and that won us some hockey games.
Q. Babcock seems to be casting them in the role of underdogs throughout this playoff. He said, A lot of people didn’t think we were going to beat Calgary, San Jose. How do you look at that? Is that something that coaches do at this time of year?
COACH RANDY CARLYLE: It’s amazing that an underdog had 113 points, finished first in the division. We’re the underdog. They got more wins than we did. I think we had 48 wins and they had 51 or 52 wins. He’s just using that as a motivation. That’s fine. I think a lot of people have categorized their hockey club as one that was not going to be able to beat Calgary, not going to be able to beat San Jose.
Their group has done a heck of a job. They’re to be commended. They have a veteran core that we know if you allow that group to play the style of game they want to play, it’s going to be difficult. They’re a puck-possession team. They’ve got a lot of veteran savvy. They have lots of will to succeed. If we don’t play to the best of our ability, we’re not going to have success.
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