Talk about players, as Playoffs go on, having to do more and the competition becomes more key. Is that true for coaching? Do you have to do different things at this stage that maybe you didn’t have to do in the first round?
I think it often depends on your opponent. And there are coaches that like to make a lot of adjustments. There are coaches who, last night Zetterberg was definitely, obviously coming on the ice and off the ice at key moments trying to get different match?ups. That poses a different situation than some of the other things early on. I don’t think it would be ?? I don’t think it’s just because it’s the Finals. I think it’s because it’s Mike Babcock and the Red Wings. So each series is a little bit different. And this one is presenting different situations.
With Sidney seeing so much of Zetterberg and Lidstrom and that pairing, can you maybe just address the importance of Evgeni’s line contributing offensively with Sid stuck in that match-up? And how that could potentially change that dynamic if they get that seat back?
I’d be interested to see how it would change the dynamic. Last game was a unique game where Zetterberg was on the ice for a lot of hockey. He was out there in a couple different instances where he was double shifting after long shifts. So he was really chasing that match-up. He was getting them on the ice in those situations. And there’s a lot of focus on that. As a result Sid still had to fight that numerous times.
But it does leave the onus on our other guys to play our game and get to the offensive zone to take some pressure off just one guy scoring and one line scoring. So it was an interesting dynamic. Different than the first two games in how they approached the game, and how much Zetterberg had to play to try to get that match-up. And I think you’ve seen Geno be on the board each game here and helping us out in that regard.
But I think as a team, we need to do a better job playing in the offensive zone and winning face?offs and keeping pressure on them that doesn’t allow them to get that change that they did get numerous times last night with a guy jumping on the ice, Zetterberg getting out there. Better play in the offensive zone by everybody would make those match?ups better, even better for us.
What makes Max Talbot such a clutch player? He’s had some huge goals for you guys last year and this year in the postseason. And as a coach, can you look at a player before he does that and say that he has that potential? You know what I mean? Can you almost identify those guys before they do what they do?
You know, Max, one of the great attributes that Max had, and I heard Geno comment on eloquently on them earlier (smiling), is he’s a determined guy who lays it on the line. He will scrap and claw and continue to do that over and over again. Doesn’t get deterred by the situation. Doesn’t get deterred by how much ice time he does or doesn’t get. He’s out there, scratching and clawing for opportunities.
And that means he’s going to the dirty areas. That means he’s battling the guy next to him who is trying to prevent him from doing that. I think that’s why, in situations like this, he gets in those opportunities that allow him to get the big goal.
That’s his strength. It may not be his hands, but it’s his determination, and his will, and his willingness to battle the guy that is across from him and gets him in those spots.
You know, quote of the movie yesterday, winners want the ball. He wants to go there. He wants to be it. And a lot of guys do. A lot of guys do. But the work ethic and determination, that’s his strength. That’s his NHL skill, and he shows it over and over again. And I hope he keeps getting the chance.
You just talked about Evgeni and he had this room breaking up. I imagine there is a personality in there that we don’t all get a chance to see. Can you talk about since you’ve come in the personality that you’ve seen in him and how it plays in the room?
Yeah, I think it’s tough to see from the outside. But it doesn’t take long when you are in the room and you see him. That’s not odd for him to crack up the room or say something that gets a laugh or a joke. Of all the guys in that room he probably likes a joke more than the next guy.
I’ve been asked the question or alluded to the fact that maybe he doesn’t understand. He’s the first guy to laugh at my jokes. That’s why I like him (smiling). And he understands perfectly.
But he’s a great teammate. He’s in that room. He laughs and jokes. And he’s very serious about being a hockey player. It’s a tough situation. There’s a lot of hurdles coming from his culture and being a young kid. But that’s who he is. That’s who Evgeni is. And he’s a fiery competitor. He’s passionate. He wants desperately to win. And at the same time you’ll get the Max Talbot joke pretty regularly out of that guy. So it certainly adds to our room not only with his skill level, obviously, on the ice, but he’s a well?liked teammate because of the way he is in that room.
He clearly is enjoying having the last line change. Unfortunately for Coach Bylsma the Wings would have 1 more game then the Pens if this series goes the distance, so he is going to need to figure out a way for the Pens to win with Crosby facing Zetterberg/Lidstrom every shift.