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Stars take the first step back

Thursday, 05.15.2008 / 9:00 AM / Game-Day Skate

By John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist


A few thoughts as we wait to see if the Pittsburgh Penguins can complete their  sweep — something the Detroit Red Wings couldn’t do last night.

Turnabout — Dallas has gone from being up 3-0 in its Western Conference Semifinal series against San Jose to trying to come back from 0-3 in the Western Finals against Dallas.

So what did Dallas coach Dave Tippett learn in the previous round that might help him and his team now?

“I learned you can get nervous when the other team starts winning,” he said after the Stars’ 3-1 win Thursday night. “That's where we were,” he added, drawing a laugh at his postgame press conference.

Going into Joe Louis Arena and winning on Saturday won’t be easy — but it’s better than packing up and heading home for the summer.

“We need a thread of life,” Tippett said. “Now we got a thread of life. We've got some momentum, so we've got to use that to our advantage now. You go in there and steal a game out of there. Now you got it to 3-2. Now the ball's rolling the right way. We'll see what happens.

Match game — The Red Wings pretty much had their way with Dallas in the first three games of their series. Not on Wednesday.

Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom noticed the difference in the Stars’ play during Dallas’ 3-1 series-extending victory.

“They battled hard,” Lidstrom said. “They were a desperate team. We have to match that. They took away a lot of the passing lanes and drove a lot harder to the net.”

Detroit will have the benefit of playing before a home crowd on Saturday afternoon, but Lidstrom is taking nothing for granted — even though the Wings have a 3-1 lead in the series.

“We have to play harder at home,” he said. “We have to match the intensity that they brought tonight.”

Taking nothing for granted
— The Pittsburgh Penguins may lead the Eastern Conference Finals 3-0, but coach Michel Therrien is far from ready to declare victory — especially not against his team’s cross-state rival, the Philadelphia Flyers.

"They're going to be desperate. But in the meantime for us we're going to focus on what we have to do."
-- Penguins head coach Michel Therrien

“When you get to the playoffs, they're all tough games,” he said Wednesday. “I believe yesterday we got some breaks. The first goal was a break. You need breaks in the playoffs, but if you stick to the plan, if your work ethic is there and you do the right thing and you're disciplined, most of the time you're going to get those breaks. But there's no doubt there's times we've got breaks and it's helped to win some hockey games.”

Therrien is happy with his team’s attitude, but knows the Flyers will come out ready to go in order to avoid being swept and losing back-to-back games at home.

“I like the mentality of the players,” he said. “They're never satisfied.  And for us, nothing changed.  You know, we try to concentrate about the way we can play. We try to concentrate about taking one game at a time, and we don't want to look at the picture. It's tomorrow night. Yesterday we're concentrating about yesterday. Now we won that game.  We're in good position.  We're pleased with our position right now in the series. But tomorrow we understand it's a cliché, but it's going to be a tough game to play.

“They're going to be desperate.  But in the meantime for us we're going to focus on what we have to do."

One at a time — One of the hardest things for any team trailing 3-0 in a series to deal with is remembering that they can’t win four games in the same night. As they enter Game 4 of the Eastern Finals, the Philadelphia Flyers know they have to focus on the immediate task at hand — getting the series to a fifth game Sunday afternoon in Pittsburgh.

“You can't win four games tomorrow night,” Flyers center Mike Richards said at Wednesday’s off-day workout.  “You've got to take it a game at a time.  We've won four games in a row in the playoffs against a really good Montreal team. I think we've got to draw from that and not try to do too much right off the bat, and go all the way in the first 10 minutes or first period.”

According to Richards, the Flyers need better execution, not a change in strategy,

“We've got to go play a full game and do what we've been talking about the last couple of days, and try to get pucks in and try to make good plays out of the zone and just play the game that we know we can play,” he said.
   
Contact John Kreiser at jkreiser@nhl.com


Quote of the Day

When I first became captain here, Monsieur Beliveau came to me and said, 'You're going to be fine. You don't have to change, you got selected because of who you are.'

— Saku Koivu on Thursday, recalling what he was told by the late Jean Beliveau when he was named Canadiens captain in 1999
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