Not long after arriving back in Anaheim on Monday, Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle, Chris Pronger and Andy McDonald answered questions from the media.
VIDEO: RANDY CARLYLE
VIDEO: CHRIS PRONGER AND ANDY MCDONALD
Q. Is there a chance that Chris Kunitz will play Game 3 or any time shortly thereafter?
COACH RANDY CARLYLE: I guess there's always a chance. We don't really have any other change to enlighten you gentlemen with. So it's basically he's got an upper body injury. Until we have a complete assessment done by our doctors, that's the way it will stay at this point.
Q. Can you contrast where you are this year being 1‑1 in this same series as to where you were last year, what ways this team may be different this year than last year, particularly having gone through that experience last year?
COACH RANDY CARLYLE: Well, you know, obviously after two games last year, we were down 2‑0. Both of them were losses in our building. I think they were by identical scores of 3‑1.
We definitely didn't feel that we played that poorly, but we didn't ‑ we weren't getting the job done. We thought that, you know, we were going to be able to turn that around.
We went up into Edmonton, lost Game 3, won Game 4, gave ourselves a chance. We came back to Anaheim, lost the fifth game. We played well in a lot of ways, but we just didn't deliver and didn't find a way to get the energy and the momentum that we were able to build in the previous series.
These games this year in the playoffs it seems like every game has been so close, other than the first one I think against Vancouver, which was 5‑1. The Minnesota first game, I think it was 4‑1. These games have been all hard‑fought and very, very close. They're one‑goal hockey games. One break one way or the other can make the difference.
With our group right now, I think we're just more mature than we were last year. Are we mature enough? We have to prove that day in, day out. We have a certain style of hockey and a game that we have to implement. That's no secret with us. But, you know, we're up against a hockey club that's found ways to win. Anybody that's witnessed both hockey games in Detroit, they were very, very highly contested games and very close.
Q. A comment on your five‑on‑five play in the series.
COACH RANDY CARLYLE: Well, our five‑on‑five play, you know, we'd always like to be able to deliver more. There's times we've gotten ourselves into some issues with penalty problems. We've lost our composure at stretches.
But, you know, I think five‑on‑five, our hockey club has competed and played the brand of hockey that we're capable of. I think we can play to a higher level than that. I think with our group, it's about five men going out there and outworking the individuals you're playing against.
We feel comfortable we can have success. But we're playing against a very good hockey club.
Q. Given the uncertainty regarding Kunitz, could you talk about how you felt the team handled filling that void last night and also going forward, if that's necessary, what the prospects are there to fill that void?
COACH RANDY CARLYLE: Well, you know, I thought our response was very workmanlike last night. I thought we did some of the things we set out to do. Obviously missing a player like Kunitz, is a guy that has been involved with our group from the forefront of putting pressure on pucks, physical, scoring, playing on our top line, playing in the power play. We use him sporadically as a penalty killer. His complement to our group has been huge.
That's not easy for one individual to come into your lineup and pick that up. But we also had the addition of Todd Marchant for those two games. It gives us more flexibility down the middle to have a player like that. Last night we moved Penner up there for most of the hockey game. Then we put at times Marchant up there. I thought both players came in and gave us the necessary minutes and safe minutes, supplied us with the energy.
That's what we're going to have to do. When you lose players of that caliber, it's not like you got a tree out back you can just pick another one from, you know. There's some young guys here that have played in the American Hockey League. We have some options, a couple different directions we can go in. We'll make that decision as a coaching staff this afternoon and probably talk about it again tomorrow morning on what we're going to do for our lineup for tomorrow night.
Q. Beauchemin played about as many minutes at Niedermayer and Pronger. What has he done to be able to get into that type of mindset and physical condition to be able to handle that load?
COACH RANDY CARLYLE: Well, it's been well‑documented that Beauchemin has arrived as an everyday NHL player and he's a good one. You know, he is a competitive guy that battles. You have to earn your space against him. He can shoot the puck really well. He's comfortable playing those minutes. We're very, very pleased with his play. He had a ‑ I wouldn't say it was a rough game, but he had an unfortunate game in the first game where I thought he responded yesterday to that.
We were joking in the morning, and he didn't like it. I just told him we had the white sweaters on tonight. He said, you didn't have to say that. But you do have to say those things. That's the light part of it. He's human. Is it a mistake that two goals go in off you? I don't think so. It's just one of those things that happens. What we didn't want him to do was carry that into the next game. He did not carry it by his performance, I guarantee it.
Q. Coach, you gave up two power‑play goals last night and a shorthanded goal. Something you're concerned about?
COACH RANDY CARLYLE: Well, I don't think we want to continue to give them five‑on‑threes, which was one goal. We had a poor read in the neutral ice on the entry. We had both forwards back in front of the net and they hit Nicklas Lidstrom in the slot. I don't think you want him shooting the puck from that area.
Obviously specialty teams have played a role. I know that we feel that we scored two power‑play goals. The clock doesn't indicate that. But last night right at the expiration of both penalties, we did score two goals. But it doesn't count in statistics, but we feel we scored two power play goals last night because we worked the puck and controlled the puck and did some of the things we were trying to do. It just so happened the clock ended. The player leaving the penalty box had no effect on what was happening on the ice. That's the way statistics sometimes are misleading.
Q. To the best of my recollection, it's been a long time since you've been on the wrong side of the special teams play so glaringly as lately. Is that more a credit to what the Red Wings are doing or is there something going on with you guys that really needs to be addressed here?
COACH RANDY CARLYLE: Well, I don't think I want to take a gun and shoot our specialty teams. You guys might be writing it as drastic. It's a 1‑1 series. So are there areas we'd like to improve on? Of course. Specialty teams are one of them. I don't think that you can put as much emphasis as maybe some people would like to. In our situation as coaches you always do the analysis. Yes, there are areas you give your opposition credit. They got some very highly skilled people out there. They're a dangerous team on the power play. We've got to be better in some areas. It's a culmination of things. I don't think we want to continue to lose specialty teams battle in this series.
Q. Could you briefly talk about what Todd Marchant has looked like since he's come back?
COACH RANDY CARLYLE: Well, I think the first game, as I stated earlier, couldn't expect him to come back in and put too much pressure on the individual. I thought that he played well in the first game. I thought he got better yesterday. I think with Marchant, he's another veteran presence in your lineup. He has the ability to play the game at a high pace. He's excellent on the forecheck, excellent penalty killer. He's an excellent support guy for our younger players.
Any time you can add that element back into your lineup, it is a positive. It's how things go. You know, you lose a Kunitz, but you have a Marchant to fill. We feel fortunate we have that depth.
Q. You've stressed staying out of the box all year last night. Pronger had to take a penalty. You had another one after that, creating the five‑on‑three. How tough was that to watch? What's the fine line there between being aggressive and doing something you shouldn't?
COACH RANDY CARLYLE: I think, again, with the Pronger play, you know, from our vantage point, we didn't ‑ I thought that he got to the guy without impeding his progress with his hand, but the referee saw it different. That's the rules. That's the way it goes.
As far as the second penalty we took, it was off a scrum. I thought that O'Donnell got too aggressive. Usually in those situations, if you look at who the individual is up against, for us it was O'Donnell against Zetterberg, they're going to call that penalty against O'Donnell every night. Those are things that have to be curtailed. Discipline is a huge factor and can make the difference in the outcome of a hockey game and can make the difference in the outcome of a series.
We've gotten, in my mind, two undisciplined penalties: the one by Getzlaf the other night and then that one last night. We have to limit those. Those are unacceptable.
Q. Rob Niedermayer seems to be more of an offensive force in the playoffs than he has been in the regular season. Do you agree with that? Can you pinpoint any reasons for it?
COACH RANDY CARLYLE: Well, I think with Rob Niedermayer, you know, he's a veteran guy. He's played in a lot of situations. This is an example of an athlete being able to raise the level of his game. Providing us with the offense, we've stressed all year from that line specifically to shoot the puck more. I think if you look at Robby and you look at Travis Moen's performance, they have shot the puck more in the playoffs. They're big men, hard to control, they're a cycle and grind line, shut down lines for us. When you play those minutes, there's going to have to be some form of offense provided. We're thankful it's them delivering it at this point.
Q. Talk a little bit about the Niedermayers, the intangibles both bring, and perhaps the similarities and differences?
COACH RANDY CARLYLE: That could take a while. I think they're two opposites really, in my perspective. One is a big winger, puck‑controlling, strong skater, strong along the wall. The other guy is more of an effortless type of skater, lighter in looks, but almost the same body weight or mass. But he floats on his skates. The other guy is a power winger. Robby Niedermayer has that ability to control the puck in the corner. Scotty is more adept with the stick.
They both have a burning desire to play the game. They both enjoy the game dramatically. When you have a brothers combination, when they do combine for the effort in which they displayed last night, it's always a nice tribute to their family. Their upbringing, it's like a good luck story. There was nobody happier than their teammates for them to get the winning goal, combine for the winning goal last night.
Q. You talked a lot about the importance of rest and nutrition in the playoffs. Was your decision to keep the team overnight in Detroit last night based on getting your guys some rest before tomorrow night?
COACH RANDY CARLYLE: Well, normally we have traveled right after. We talked to the players before the playoffs. They said that they felt the opportunity for rest would be better served if we did stay over in those situations.
If we would have traveled last night, we would have arrived here somewhere probably around 3 o'clock in the morning, which would have been close to 6 o'clock in the East Coast. We went back to the hotel. There was a meal set. We got up. We were supposed to travel earlier today. There was a mechanical failure with the plane. Had to get another plane in, which delayed us about an hour.
But, you know, everybody got up, had breakfast. There was food on the plane. They did have an opportunity just to rest and relax. Last night after the game, they might have got seven, eight hours' sleep probably, maybe nine hours' sleep. Then they had the opportunity on the 4 1/2 hour flight to kick back, relax. Now we go and have a little bit of a workout. There's an optional skate. If you don't skate, there's a bike ride. They're all home ‑ should be home by 2:00 this afternoon with their families. We'll come back and have a skate in the morning.
We think that's the best way to prepare because we provide them with the rest, we provide them with the nutrition, and the rest is up to them. I think that's important.
Q. Can you update us on the status of Thornton?
COACH RANDY CARLYLE: Thornton's lower body. I haven't really had an assessment. I've only been in the building before I met you people seven minutes. I haven't had much of an opportunity to talk to the training staff on any of the issues as far as injured players. Those are the only two we have concern with at this point.
JAMEY HORAN: Thank you, Coach.
COACH RANDY CARLYLE: All right.
JAMEY HORAN: Questions for Chris or Andy.
Q. Chris, having played this team last year in this round, how do you analyze the way the Ducks are just as a mental, physical, everything hockey club compared to the way they were last year playing against them?
CHRIS PRONGER: Well, I think it's pretty similar. They're obviously a grinding team, a physical team that likes to get into the forecheck, pressure you. We're doing a lot of the same things again this year.
Certainly five‑on‑five, we've been able to control the play and use our forecheck and our physical play to create opportunities. We have some good goals off of some cycles and some plays with net presence. Hopefully that will continue.
ANDY McDONALD: Yeah, I mean, Chris touched on a lot of the stuff. I think this team has got a year's experience under their belt. We had a lot of guys last year going into the playoffs with no experience. They've had a year to grow. Obviously the guy sitting beside me we didn't have last year. I think this team's in a lot better shape than we were last year. I think there's more confidence in the room as well.
Q. Chris, you always like to play a physical style. I'm guessing that was the goal coming into the series. Last round against Vancouver, if you took some penalties, you dominated the special team battle. How tough is that line in this series, staying disciplined while physical?
CHRIS PRONGER: We've done a pretty good job. Obviously there's stretches in games where we're giving them a number of opportunities. Obviously last night we were controlling the play, ran into a little bit of penalty trouble towards the end of the second, early part of the third. They got the go‑ahead goal.
For the most part we want to try to be on that edge of playing physical but under control, try to stay out of the box. Obviously their power play's clicking right now. They're No. 1 in the league right now in the playoffs.
Q. Can you talk, Mack, about how things change for you if and Teemu and Kunitz are not in? How did things go last night and what do you expect if he's not in?
ANDY McDONALD: Yeah, I mean, obviously there's no replacing Kuni. He's done so well for us so far this year, in the regular season and in the post‑season. I give credit to the guys that stepped in last night with Todd and Dustin. Both of them taking turns there on the left side. Obviously they're two kind of different players. I thought Penner did a nice job down low on their defense controlling the puck. Todd was able to come in and use his speed, kind of suits more of a Kunitz game.
Both guys did a great job. Who knows what will happen next game, which guy will be there or whether it's Kuni. We'll see.
Q. Andy, scoring four off Hasek last night, they hadn't given up more than two goals in any game. Four must seem like an explosion. How much does that help offensively that you can put the puck in the net as frequently as you did?
ANDY McDONALD: I think the first game we generated a lot of chances. Perhaps we didn't get the balances. I think last night we got the balances. I think it helps mentally to kind of get shut out the first game like that, maybe gets into your head a little bit. But we responded well. I think we improved a lot on the first game. We generated more chances.
Q. Can you talk about the confidence level coming back here at home, knowing how well you played at home in the playoffs?
CHRIS PRONGER: Well, we obviously know the crowd's going to be energetic and excited, as they were in the first two rounds. It's a big game for us. We were able to get the split. In our eyes played very well in both games. Probably deserved to win both games. Came out with a split. Now we come back here and look forward to Game 3 with the crowd behind us. Obviously, last line change, all the things that go into having home ice.
We're excited. Obviously a step in the right direction. We understand it's going to take a lot of work and we have to build on what we did in their building the first two games.