Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 06/08/09 at 07:44 PM ET
Q. Can I ask you about home ice advantage in this series? The home team has obviously won all the games. Are match?ups that critical in this series, how big a part of the results that we’ve seen is that?
NICKLAS LIDSTROM: I don’t think match-ups has been the big issue. I think the team that has had home ice advantage has played really well at home. They’ve gained a lot of momentum from the crowd or what not. So I think just that in itself has helped the home team playing on their home ice.
I think match-ups in Games 3 and 4 wasn’t that big of an issue for us. Only a couple of times we didn’t have the match-up that we wanted when we started the shift. But otherwise we did a good job coming on and off the ice.
Q. Didn’t want to ask you this before you guys were within a game to maybe win the Cup. But you and some of your teammates are on the verge of maybe a fifth Stanley Cup. Can you talk about what that means? Winning one for the thumb, how big that is for you guys?
NICKLAS LIDSTROM: Well, winning four Stanley Cups is something I’m very proud of. Having a chance to win another one, it’s a good feeling. But we know as a team that we’re not there yet. We know we need another win to get to where we want to be.
But I’m very fortunate to have been with the same team for a lot of years and been with an organization and ownership that really are dedicated to winning. They’ve been willing to before the cap world, willing to spend money to get players. In the cap world that we’re in now, they’re able to keep players or draft players, you know, players that really fit our team and our system.
So I’ve been very fortunate to be with the same team for a lot of years.
Q. How do you think Hossa has handled all the attention that’s been paid to him, given the obvious story line with him coming back?
NICKLAS LIDSTROM: I think he’s handled it real well. It doesn’t seem to have bothered him a whole lot on. Even coming in here and playing Games 3 and 4, it didn’t seem to bother him at all. So I think he’s handled it great.
Q. Some of us in the media like to play a little game called who would maybe get the Cup first kind of thing. Like when does Nick decide who would get the Cup? I know it’s way premature, but with the potential clinching situation, do any of the scenarios of what could potentially play out in a postgame celebration go through your mind? At what point is something like that ever in the front of your mind? Was it strictly impulsive last year to go right to Dallas? How does that come to you?
NICKLAS LIDSTROM: Well, last year after you’re winning it and celebrating with all your teammates you’re starting to think a little bit about it and what you want to do. This time around I haven’t given it any thought, really. Like you said it is premature to talk about that. I think that will all take care of itself if you win.
Right now we’re so focused on getting another win, that all of that will just handle itself.
Q. Can you take me back to that Game 5 when you guys lost in triple overtime and now you have a different scenario coming off of a Game 5 when you totally destroyed them 5?0. Is it different this year coming into Game 6 tomorrow?
HENRIK ZETTERBERG: Well, I think it was a little different feeling after Game 5 than last year. But still we want to come in here and play a good game. We know we have to play very well, otherwise we will not get our victory.
But I think also we got an extra day this year to spend with our families at home, and we had a good practice today. So it was a little different that way.
Q. A lot of teams will say that the toughest thing to do in sports is repeat, and you guys obviously haven’t yet. But I’m wondering what was the toughest thing this year that you guys had to go through on this journey?
HENRIK ZETTERBERG: I think we had some issues during the regular season to get started in games, to kind of find the focus that we needed to have to play well. But I think as long as the season went, we found a way to mobilize the force that we need to have to win games. Now when the playoff starts, that’s not an issue at all.
Q. As it stands now, Anaheim is the last team that beat you guys in the playoffs back in 2007. Have you seen Pittsburgh trying to do things that the Ducks did? And what made the Ducks so close a match?up? It was 3:00 left in Game 7 this year when you guys went ahead and won the game?
NICKLAS LIDSTROM: Going back to the Anaheim series, I think we had two very competitive teams that neither team would break. I thought the match-ups were great, too, with some of the lines we had offensively and the strong defense that they had. I thought it was a great match-up. But I thought in that series I thought just the depth that we had on our team finally turned into our favor, and we were able to win that series.
Looking at Pittsburgh this year, I think they’re at home, the games we played in their building they’ve been more aggressive. Coming after us a little bit more. Trying to put more pressure on our defensemen. Just coming with more pressure, I think. I think that’s been the biggest difference. And some of the similarities that we saw in the Anaheim series, too.
Q. Can you each talk about the biggest difference in an elimination game in the Stanley Cup Final as compared to other series, entering the elimination game in a Stanley Cup Final?
NICKLAS LIDSTROM: Well, during the playoffs when you’re in the first, second or third round you’re looking to advance. You’re looking to move up and play in the next round or you’re getting ready for the next round. When you’re in the Final you know you can see the end. You know when you’re close to the end. You know you almost reached your goal.
So during the playoffs you’re just setting a certain amount of goals that you want to reach. But the ultimate goal is to win the Stanley Cup. And that is the goal we’re trying to achieve right now. So I think that’s a different mindset. You’re happy with advancing in the playoffs, but when you’re in the Finals you want to win those four games to win the Stanley Cup.
HENRIK ZETTERBERG: I got nothing to add to that. It was a perfect answer (laughing).
Q. Along those lines until the series against Anaheim, you guys had won 13 straight Game 6’s when you had a chance to end the series. Being that you were most of the time on the road for those, is there a bit of relaxation to know that you’re away from home in an enemy building, but somehow you can put those games away then?
NICKLAS LIDSTROM: Yeah, I think the experience that we have on our team has really helped us in those situations when you’re going into a Game 6 on the road. You know you have to play well for 60 minutes. You know they’re going to come at you real hard and trying to get that win. So with the experience that we have, I think we’ve been able to kind of play the patient style that we can play when we have to and take advantage of our chances, and I think that’s the way we’re approaching this game, too. We know they’re going to be a desperate hockey team. We know they’re going to be coming out hard tomorrow night. So that’s where you have to play that patient hockey.
But when you have a chance to go on the offense or you have the puck, you have to take care of your chances as well.
Q. How do you feel that you’ve had a couple of days off?
PAVEL DATSYUK: No, it’s good. We have a couple of days, a little more treatment, little more stuff. And I skate today, I feel good.
Q. A lot of teams will tell you the toughest thing to do is try to repeat. You know, you’ve done it obviously once before. As you get the chance to do it here, what was the toughest part of the journey this season to getting to this point?
KRIS DRAPER: I guess getting started, you know, early on. The games at the start of the season you come off and you remember your last game how exciting it was. Everything that you want as a hockey player you accomplish that night. Then before you know it, you’re back to the grind. Training, training camp, and getting going and getting playing.
So just mentally some of those games they were tough. But the one thing we were able to do is find ways to win those hockey games. We just know every year how close it is to get into the playoffs. It’s such a tight race in the West that the one thing we were trying to do is get as many points in the bank as we could down the stretch to put ourselves in a good situation.
You know, I think we won more games than we thought we were going to, but the fact is we put ourselves in that situation. Then once you get into the playoffs that excitement level is right there. You can’t wait to get going. That is the one thing that everyone was really looking forward to was just getting through the regular season. Putting ourselves in a pretty good position, and going from there, and we were able to do that.
Q. Mike, when he was just in here a couple minutes ago, said you came to Pittsburgh a week ago with an opportunity to win a hockey game. He said that’s what this is. But isn’t this just a little bit different with the potential to end their season and win a fifth Stanley Cup? Can you just kind of talk about the emotion of it being a potential clinching game?
KRIS DRAPER: Well, we just have to keep it in check, you know. And to be honest, it’s not easy. There’s a lot of distractions going on, yesterday and today with trying to get stuff accomplished. But for us I think we’ve been real businesslike. There’s a lot of character, a lot of leadership in our dressing room. Nobody has really gotten ahead of themselves.
Our focus is really on really kind of making it even a little bit smaller and going out and having a really good start to Game 6 is really what we want to do, if we can.
Then just go from there. That is really what our focus is going to be on. Just get started on time, have a good start, and just try to get better as the game goes on.
Q. You’ve been here a few times before, does it get any easier to prepare for a hostile clincher? Or is it the same kind of nerves as it was back in ‘96?
KRIS DRAPER: You still kind of get those butterflies floating around just sitting here and talking about it. The one thing I’ve always said is getting this far, getting to this point, I will never, ever take for granted. It’s that special. It means so much to myself, my teammates and everyone associated with it. It’s a lot of hard work, and we’re proud of where we are right now. But with that said, we’ve yet to accomplish anything.
We know that in any series, the fourth one is always the toughest one to win. We know that’s exactly what it’s going to be tomorrow night. The atmosphere and environment’s going to be unbelievable. It was in Games 3 and 4. And it’s something that you just love. That’s a great part of being a professional athlete.
Q. It’s a different scenario coming into this Game 6, considering what happened last year in Game 5 with the triple overtime loss. Considering what you did the other night in Game 5, does that make this one a little bit easier as far as momentum going into Game 6 or is it not?
KRIS DRAPER: I was trying to get Pav going here.
PAVEL DATSYUK: I’m good. I’m just trying to translate your last questions. Keep going (laughing).
KRIS DRAPER: I think that’s why Pav likes coming to the podium with me. I talk too much.
PAVEL DATSYUK: Yeah, I like it.
KRIS DRAPER: It is certainly different than last year. Everyone was talking about how were we going to respond, the older Detroit Red Wings, to a triple overtime game. But the fact is ?? we won a game. We won Game 5. It’s over and done with. There’s not going to be any carryover factor. The Pittsburgh Penguins are absolutely going to be ready for this game, and that’s something we’re all well aware of.
So we’re just - we’ve put ourselves in a good situation by going out and winning a Game 5. But the fact is, it’s on over and done with. We know they’re going to be ready to play. We have to be ready to see their best game, too.
Q. Knowing that you’ve gone through one game coming back from your injury, is your mind any clearer now knowing that you’ve come through, played well, and you’re going out for another game tomorrow and your foot’s going to be okay?
PAVEL DATSYUK: I hope for sure like the foot will be okay. But it’s a little bit tough to jump in the Final. But I want to thank my trainer and teammates, they helped me a lot in the locker room and on the ice. Now tomorrow for me it’s the same. I’m just hungry and I want more excitement. I want to play.
Q. You talked about the toughness of getting to this point. You guys had a seven?game series against Anaheim that was tied until 3:00 left. What made the difference for your team in that series and is it something that you can draw on in this series? Or you have drawn on in this series?
KRIS DRAPER: I mean, that Anaheim series was tough. I was not a part of that until the Game 7. But just watching how hard the guys had to compete night in night out against obviously a very physical Anaheim team was impressive.
Just at that point in Game 7 finding a way to win a hockey game is something that you can’t say enough of. When Cleary scored that goal and we were able to hold on to make us go through into the Conference Finals, it’s something that, you know, those are the moments that you just realize that you have to do at this point of the year if you’re going to move on. You have to find ways to win hockey games. In Game 7, anything can happen. And that’s exactly what we were able to do.
So you can use the word resilient, finding ways to win hockey games, whatever it is. We’ve been able to do that. And that’s something that our whole team is very proud of. It’s something that you just kind of draw from. It’s a learning curve. It’s an experience. You know, in Game 7 when you can find a way to win those games it’s something that you should be very proud of.
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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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