Press Release

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Date of Release: May 20, 2009 
Type of Release: Public Relations 
Category: Conference Call Transcript 

Western Conference Final-Off Day Press Conference Quotes-Detroit (Babcock, Maltby, Rafalski)
Contact Information: 

An interview with:     
            Q. Originally this was scheduled to be a noon practice. Was the change to give them the day off? Did they earn it?
            MIKE BABCOCK: Need the day off. It was never scheduled in my mind. Doesn't really matter what was on the schedule. We're going to take a day for sure. We would always take a day off here.
            I really thought that the previous series looked to me like it caught up to us last night. I think Game 1, I was worried about Game 1, but I should have been thinking a little better. It's a new series. You're excited. It's a Sunday afternoon. So that energy kind of carries you through a little bit. I didn't think last night we had much.
            You know, just like you people are covering, the playoffs are real short if you don't win, and it's forever if you keep winning.
            You know, it's a grind. We were in a real grind last series. I thought it took a toll or it looked like we didn't have the pop we needed to be as good as we could be last night.
            Q. Which way do you see it more, that Chicago played arguably their best game, but they couldn't win, or that you guys didn't play your best game and still won?
            MIKE BABCOCK: Well, I think there's two sides to that. I thought that they were better than us at the start. We had them down. They had 19 shots in the first. We have them down, I think, eight scoring chances in the first period. Okay. And so it took us a while to get going. They had a five?on?three. Let's not get carried away. You get chances in that area. But they were better than us. I thought they were engaged more. They were physically better. They were better on the wall.
            And then I thought the game got going. For the longest period of time, they had nine shots through a ton of time, like 32 minutes or something not much was going on for them. We were up 2?1. The clock was just ticking away.
            We never had a scoring chance in the third period. 16:52, we had a scoring chance. We never had a scoring chance till they scored, then suddenly we got the next six. So, I mean, part of that's managing the clock. Part of that is playing the game, the way it goes. But I thought they were better. I didn't think we were as good. So it's a fine line. And I think hunger's a big part of that.
            Now, the next step is we go to Chicago. They're a young team. They got a great crowd, a lot of enthusiasm in the building. They'll be thinking they'll play better. Now we got to go win a real hard Game 3.
            Q. How well did Kronwall and Stuart play throughout the playoffs?
            MIKE BABCOCK: Stuey, he's an interesting fella. I've known him forever. He was a great junior. He came in the National League, I think the third pick overall. I think people perceived him to be a power?play?type guy. That's not what he is. He's just a physical guy. At playoff time, he engages to a new level. I don't want to say he's not into it during the regular season, but there's obviously a different level at playoff time.
            Guys who can play like him and just keep on banging, and his oxygen tank doesn't seem to wear out, makes a big difference. He gives Kronwall room. And then Kronwall, when he's on top of his game, is a headhunter out there, and then is real good offensively, walked in last night, and hit the bar.
            So they're a good package for us. They give us an interesting ?? it doesn't have to be Raf and Nick against the best guys, if they're bigger and more physical, it can easily be Kronwall and Stewart.
            Q. Talk about Osgood. He's been so consistent right from the start of the playoffs. What has been the major difference. Is it more focus or what do you say there from the regular season that's enabled him to be so much better?
            MIKE BABCOCK: Ozzie had good numbers in his last 10 games of the regular season. So we've been through this a hundred times this year. Obviously, he wasn't engaged early. No different than the rest of our team. Just when you're the last line of defense, it's very obvious.
            You know, I think it probably got away from him. He battled back. He's a confident guy in his ability. He's played real well for us in the playoffs. I thought Game 4 in Columbus, he wasn't like he's been in every other game. Every other game he's been solid.
            The difference in most games and last night's game, that's our first even game. Like, for us, it's interesting, the perception is, we can out shoot Anaheim, I don't know by how many. If they beat us, it's a good game. If we win a game and the shots are even and the play is even, it's like we stole one. You know, I don't know what you're supposed to do.
            But, I mean, Ozzie was good last night. Gave us a chance. Byfuglien fell on him there the one time. Kind of pretended like Kronwall knocked him in and fell on him. I thought he didn't get involved in that kind of crap, just played the game.
            Q. After the lockout, what have you seen from Samuelsson? Why do you think he's been able to blossom and become the player he is after coming to Detroit?
            MIKE BABCOCK: I think he's comfortable. Sammy is a comfort guy. Mikael Samuelsson is as nice a person as there is. He needs to be comfortable. I think a lot of people are like that, but Sammy's really one of those. It took Sammy a while to find his way in the National League, but he's a good player, he can be good offensively, good defensively. But, I mean, he's a huge body, can shoot the puck a ton. Sammy's one of these guys that's a way better player than he believes. If he had the confidence in himself that some of these other guys do, he'd be a high?end NHL player. Right now he's just a good NHL player.
            Q. Have you talked to him about that?
            MIKE BABCOCK: Just like that. We've had that same conversation I don't know how many times. He knows all this. But he scored big goals for us. Last night was one of those games. Sammy had a big?time turnover on the penalty kill. When he came out of the box on the penalty kill, it cost us a goal. But he was able to answer back by forcing Campbell for a turnover.
            You know, he just has the ability, has a rocket of a shot. We're always on him to shoot the puck more. He's a huge man. Absolutely a monster. So he can be real physical when he wants to be. He can really skate.
            I think both these teams, in my opinion, have a ton of depth. The depth makes it hard for you to handle just because they can keep coming many different ways. And I think that's what happens for us. Whether it be Hudler or Fil or Sammy or Helm, there's lots of different players that can contribute.
            Q. You talked about having to push through last night, grind. Do you get anything out of that when you get forced to an overtime at home, you pick up the energy, going on the road now?
            MIKE BABCOCK: What happens is you get up today you're up 2?0. But for us now it's all about three. We need the next one. All these series are a race to four. You got to get prepared to play a better game.
            In my opinion, and I've said it already, this is exactly like Game 2 was against Anaheim. They were better than us in the game early. They were more engaged. So we have to be better than that. And we're gonna go to their building. They'll be all jacked up, like I said. So we have to to make sure we're ready, poised, ready to compete.
            Q. Mike, you mentioned last night after the game, you were probably looking at putting Maltby in the game. Have you figured out your lineup for that game?
            MIKE BABCOCK: No. I'll just avoid that till tomorrow.
            Q. I know you've talked about this before, but you can obviously put together a lot of different lines. What is it you like about Hudler, Sammy and Fil together?
            MIKE BABCOCK: Well, Fil is a great skater. Sammy shoots the pill. Huds can shoot it a ton, too. He just doesn't want to. Wants to pass all the time. They seem to be a good combination. Fil and Huds played together in the minors. Actually I really like Cleary on that line to tell you the truth, gives them a net front presence. Cleary has played real well on his line, so we've just gone that way. But, you know what, at this time of year, you got to play with whoever you get the opportunity with, and you got to outplay the guy across from you. It's that simple.
Kirk Maltby
Q: I think Mike Babcock was saying yesterday that he plans to put you back in the lineup for Game 3. Were you aware of that already?
A: I heard something. I got a phone call because someone was listening to the radio, I guess, or TV – I’m not sure. Until you hear it from the horse’s mouth, you don’t take anything for granted. He just mentioned something this morning so like anybody else whether being out or hurt or whatever, you’ve just got to prepare yourself and not playing is definitely why I was out there today and a few other guys. It’s all about being prepared and getting ready to go.
Q: When you see guys like Sammy Samuelsson and Dan Cleary chip in, guys who aren’t normally called upon to score and make contributions like that, do you feel a certain amount of excitement knowing that you could jump in and might be that guy?
A: Well, hopefully. Everyone wants to contribute, but everyone knows their role and I’m no different. I think if you look at any of the success that we’ve had since the very first Cup run that we’ve had, we’ve always had some goals or plays or whatever may be from the third and fourth lines to help contribute and help us succeed to take off pressure from the top two lines. When those guys are contributing and putting the puck in the net, it makes things a whole lot easier for guys like Hank Zetterberg and Pav Datsyuk and their lines. You don’t go out there expecting it, but when you have an opportunity to try to make the most of it. Sammy and Clears have definitely done that.
Q: During the regular season you sat out a few games, but it’s the playoffs. Has this really been an exercise in patience for you?
A: Yeah and it doesn’t matter if you know the game, you know how it is and things are going to happen. It doesn’t mean you have to like it, but you still have to be professional about it and go about your business as far as being ready. I was talking to the media a couple of days ago and I said when called upon, you got to make sure you’re ready to go and that’s what I’ve been doing. I’ve been just as much a cheerleader for the guys when they’re playing regardless of whether I’ve been in or out of the lineup so it’s a team effort and everyone is going to be counted on sooner or later. Whether you’re in or out it’s up to you to contribute any way you can.
Q: When you look at Darren Helm and Justin Abdelkader, do you kind of see the next generation of you and Kris Draper?
A: Yeah, hopefully they don’t take as many punches to the head and whatnot and get threat, but no definitely. Obviously there’s going to be guys that move in and guys that move out, whether it’s year-by-year or every few years. But definitely this organization has done a great job in drafting and signing young guys and developing them in the minors. Helmer, probably more than any of them, has been a perfect example of that and he’s done a great job. When you can skate like that, it makes a lot of other things come a little bit easier. Yeah I mean if that’s what you want to look at, I guess it’s kind of a compliment. At the same time, I don’t think Drapes and I are ready to step down yet but they are obviously guys who can contribute and have contributed and they’re going to be a big part of this franchise for a long time.
Q: Having a chance to sit back and watch the guys, what do you think is going on with the penalty kill?
A: It’s a bit of bad luck. A bit of, you know, taking a few too many penalties. It seems like we’re killing the 5-on-3s, the ones they should score on and then we get scored on the 5-on-4. I guess number one, just try to stay out of the box a little bit. I think it was last game, Game 1 against these guys, and I think a puck would’ve went wide and Ozzie Osgood would’ve probably saved it, but it hit a stick and it went right to Kris Versteeg, back door, empty net. Those kinds of plays are going to happen and it just seems like it snowballs the whole effect and it seems like they’re getting one almost every game. I don’t think it’s a lack of sacrifice the body or trying to do the right thing. It’s a power play for a reason and we’ve got to find a way to not let them get one in a certain game or certain situation. I don’t think I can pinpoint a certain thing. I think everyone is trying to do what they can to kill it, but it just seems like once a game whether it’s a close game or a game that’s out of hand, it just seems they are always getting that one. It’s definitely something we’re addressing and we have meetings about and we’re going over and we’re working on it. Hopefully sooner or later, we’re able to not allow one in the game.
Q: You played in Game 3 in Columbus in their first ever playoff game at Nationwide Arena and then you go to a place like Chicago for their first time in the Conference Final since 1995. What do you expect exactly out of that building, considering it is against you guys as rivals?
A: I think it’ll add fuel to the fire as far as the history between the two franchises and these guys not making the playoffs for such a long time and now all of a sudden they’re in the Conference Finals. It’s a loud crowd under normal circumstances, but I can imagine it’s going to be even louder and the crowd is going to be into it. We saw a few games on television when they were playing Vancouver, especially that last game when it seemed like it was a bit of a shootout and you could tell the crowd was into it. The guys were into it and obviously they fed off of that. It’s going to be up to us going out there and come out of the gates hard and play well and don’t allow their energy from their crowd to be a difference for them and allow them to kind of take the play to us. It’s going to be important for us to go out and be mentally strong as well as physically.
Q: I know you’re just two games into this series, but can you sense this rivalry being back?
A: I think for hockey and everyone that loves hockey, I think it would be great obviously. I think it wasn’t great for hockey that they were out of the playoffs for so long and struggled. I think with the people that are in charge of the organization and getting their home games on TV and things like that goes a long way to getting their crowd back. Obviously being a good team and winning games always helps too. Between us and them, by the time I got here I caught the tail end of the little bit of a rivalry that they had and the playoff matchup that they had a couple years previous, but you can definitely see that they have a lot of young guys, we have a lot of young guys that are going to be in the organizations for a long time so you could see how something could definitely be brewing.
Q: What do you see in Mikael Samuelsson since you came here?
A: Well I’d be lying if I told you I know a whole lot about Sammy before he came here. I knew who he was obviously, but I remember when they said we signed Mikael Samuelsson and I figured out exactly who that was. I think he played a lot more in the East than anything and didn’t really know too much about him. But seeing Sammy here now over the last few years and seeing how he goes about his conditioning and working, he works extremely hard and he obviously has skill and things like that. He can shoot the puck like nobody’s business. He’s just a guy who goes about his business and works really hard in the gym. His conditioning is as good as anybody’s. Obviously it carries over onto the ice. He enjoys having fun, but at the same time he can be serious when he’s working on something whether it’s his shot or something on the point for the power play. He takes it serious and wants to get better at it.
Q: He’s got a knack for scoring.
A: Yeah, he’s scored a couple in that Game 1 against Pittsburgh last year in the Finals and obviously last game, got a big goal. Some guys just have it. Mule Johan Franzen seems to have it. Huds Jiri Hudler seems to have it. It’s nice to have that luxury. When you’re going into overtime and you’re trying to pick someone who may or may not score, those are obviously the guys who come up first. It’s definitely nice when you have that. It gives you a little bit more confidence knowing you’re in a pressure situation and you have guys that somehow the puck finds them and they’re able to put it into the net.
Q: Is there anything about his shot that sort of sets it apart from everyone else’s?
A: He’s so strong. He’s kind of like Hoss Hossa. He doesn’t need the big wind-up. When he needs to get it off quick, he can get it off quick, hard, and accurate. It’s not about how hard you put it in either, sometimes he just gets it in the right spot at the right time and the puck will have eyes and find its way in. It’s something that he works on. There are certain guys who are blessed with just having a good shot. You can tell Sammy works on his shot, whether it’s picking corners or whatever it may be. Obviously he plays point on the power play that he has to get pucks through a lot. He works on a lot of different aspects of that along with a lot of other parts of his game.
Brian Rafalski
Q: Someone suggested that your compete level was not quite consistent through last night. When you go to a building like you are going to at United Center, what’s going to be the key to try keep your competition level elevated right from the start?
A: Obviously knowing that they’re going to come out with a lot of jump and the crowd is really going to give them a big adrenaline boost. Maybe we can try to use that crowd for us as well. We haven’t had some of the best starts that we would have liked throughout the playoffs, but we’re going to need one. They seem to be able to put together some big streaks or strings of minutes, I guess, that’s in our zone and we need to find a way to get out, at least throw it up against the glass and reset it.
Q: What’s more encouraging to you: that they may have thrown their best effort last night and weren’t able to win or that you guys didn’t have your best effort and still won?
A: I don’t think we were happy with how we played, giving up close to 40 shots -- way too many for us. We got to find a way to be more efficient with the puck, especially going on the road. Having that first change is going to be crucial. As far as the game last night, we found a way to win and it doesn’t really matter how. It doesn’t always have to be pretty wins. We’ll just take a win.
Q: Are you struck by how similar the script is though with Dan Cleary scoring that goal off the turnover or Mikael Samuelsson scoring that winning goal at the end?
A: Hey, we’ll take it. We don’t care who is scoring. It’s good for those guys if they can contribute like that – that’s great. It takes a lot of pressure off of other people. So when you have guys who are able to step up and do that, when other guys maybe aren’t scoring, it just adds to your team.
Q: The third line -- obviously other teams have to pay so much attention to Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk’s lines that they’re able to get a little wiggle room. You have some good shooters and good passers on that line.
A: Yeah, all four lines of ours are good. Chicago’s four lines are very good as well. Both teams like to use four lines. It comes down to will and we’ve got to find a way to get more will out of ourselves. Everyone is working as hard as they can. Maybe we just need to work smarter and maybe change faster – just do things to keep us fresher to allow us to have more success in more extended periods of the game.
Q: A guy like Mikael Samuelsson, do you think he kind of flies under the radar and gets overlooked a little bit? Just because you guys have so many big names.
A: He’s out there on the power play. He has a lot of good skill and he’s scored big goals for us last year, this year. Back last year, I think it was the Nashville series, he had some big goals there and he finds a way. If you asked him, he probably felt that he didn’t have the best start to the game but he finished strong for us.
Q: Do you think he’s just a good example of a guy who needs a little time? He didn’t come blazing into the NHL, but once he got here he seemed to really blossom.
A: Yeah, there can be a lot of factors – the familiarity with the other Swedish players, the style of play. There are different fits for different players and he obviously fits very well with us.
Q: You mentioned their four lines. Obviously Patrick Kane zero shots in Game 1, three shots yesterday. What do you maybe expect from him the rest of the series and was he totally different in Game 2 than he was in Game 1 in your mind?
Q: Obviously it’s a first time for a lot of these guys in the Conference Final and obviously he made a step up. The pace gets higher every level the round of playoffs. Going to Chicago, he’s obviously going to see more minutes. They’re going to have that last change so it’s going to be hard for us to make the matchups that we want. We’re going to have to play against everyone out there. Obviously he played better and he had some good penetrations coming into our zone, especially on the power play. He was able to get to the middle of the ice. A player like that you can’t give him the middle of the ice, otherwise he’s got a lot more options.
A: Mike was talking matchups and said since Jonathan Ericsson came in, he doesn’t worry that much about which defensive pairs are on against who because he’s confident in all the pairs
A: That’s true, but you still want to get the matchups that you can. You have things that you want to try to do, but you just can’t let the other team dictate everything. You want to be out there and use your strengths as best you can against the other team so I think obviously we’re not going to be able to do that as much. So other players are going to have to play against other players and step up and do the job.
Q: Joe Quenville talked about how brutal last night’s loss was for the Blackhawks. They’re thinking overtime, maybe they can steal one in your building and can’t get the job done. I guess do you sense, maybe their body language obviously they were very upset after that game. Is it maybe a way to take their confidence away even more or will they come out in Game 3 just as confident as ever in their own building?
A: I think they’re going to come out confident. They’re not going to quit. It’s a long series. Every team comes into a long series thinking it’s going to be long. You don’t expect to just roll over teams. You can’t take that position. You have to go out there and work hard and they’re going to respond. They’re going to have their fans behind them at their home ice. There’s a lot of things that I’m sure they’ll look at and say yeah we did a lot of good things and then these are the things that we need to improve on just like we do every game. Adjustments will be made and then we’ll see how it goes in Game 3.

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