You are in the playoffs for the 25th straight season how does it feel?
CENTER - DET
Goals: 13 | Assists: 37 | Pts: 50
Shots: 214 | +/-: -15
"It feels good. We had a chance by winning here tonight to make the postseason. But I thought we played, we made a good effort tonight. We had a lot of chances, couldn't really find the back of the net. But just got to send our thanks to Ottawa, I guess. They showed up in Boston and played good again."
How about the Rangers’ backup, Antti Raanta, today?
"It was tight from the beginning. That happens when there's a lot on the line. I thought we handled ourselves pretty good in the first. We got a lot better in the second. Second and third, I thought we played well."
What did you think of Howard’s performance today?
"He was good. He made some big saves in the first. After that, he didn't get that many shots and it's hard for a goalie to stay into the game when the chances they get are basically breakaways or 2-on-1. I thought he was good."
Looking ahead, what do you think of the matchup with Tampa?
"I feel like I'm just going to enjoy the playoff here and let's talk about Tampa on Monday."
How aware were you of the Bruins-Senators game?
"When we got in here. When we were out there playing, we were focused on ourselves. We didn't know what's going on in Boston. It was not the most fun walk I had from the ice to the locker room but the turnaround was pretty sweet."
Were you missing energy in the first period?
"No. I don't think so."
You really turned it on in the second though?
"As I said before, in these kind of game, there's a lot on the line. You over think stuff, it's hard to really calm yourself down and play with poise. You grip your stick a little too much and once you get into the game, it's easier. That's why we were better in the second and the third."
How do you feel about this team heading into the Stanley Cup playoffs?
"Well, back-to back-losses but we earned ourselves this spot. You count the points from Game 1. When we played Philly at home (last Wednesday), that's a huge game. We won that one. I thought tonight we played good, we had a chance to win, we didn't play good enough in Boston. That was the last three games, you had 79 before. If you're in the playoffs, you earned a spot. You're there."
What does it mean to keep the streak going?
"It means a lot. You don't want to be on the team that breaks that streak. It's been closer lately but we're finding a way to get in."
How do you feel for coach Jeff Blashill, managing to get in in his first season as head coach?
"It's nice. I think Jeff has done a great job with us this year. He's coaching with calmness. I think it's easy to play in front of him and he deserves to be in the playoffs."
Did you know?
"I didn't know. You have to ask the other guys if they knew the score."
How does this playoff intensity experience compare to others for you?
RIGHT WING - DET
Goals: 23 | Assists: 22 | Pts: 45
Shots: 221 | +/-: 11
"It’s a little bit of a tough situation coming in and these guys have already clinched, the fans know it, it’s an early game. We did a good job of getting ourselves ready and being prepared to play. It started with an unlucky coaches’ challenge there. We came out ready to play. If you look at the shots we were all over them in the second half. It was a good game for us."
Zetterberg said it was a long, lonely walk to the dressing room waiting?
"It was tough thinking you never know what was going to happen or what the score was. Say thank you to Ottawa for taking care of business today."
How does it feel to make the playoffs?
"It’s awesome. It’s the start of a new season. It’s the playoffs and anything can happen. A goalie gets hot when just getting. I’m excited to play with this intensity. The only think I’m not looking forward to is my playoff beard."
When did you know you were in?
"We got back and heard it was 6-1, but you don’t really know until you see the X by your team name in the standings. It felt good when Blash came in and told us we were playing Tampa."
The last month and a half been you've been playing playoff hockey, what did you learn?
"I think we’ve been playing hockey since the end of Christmas. We’ve had tons of one-goal games. I think it’s taking care of your own zone. When we’re skating and making plays and have good forward play and our D are stepping up I think we’re a tough team to play against."
What does it mean to you?
"I think it’s pretty cool. You really don’t understand how hard it is until you do it. I think some of the Detroit media in here can say it’s an 82-game stretch, lots of travel, lots of little parts to go in a long season like this. It’s really rewarding being in the postseason and on top of that the streak so it’s a great accomplishment."
How does it feel to be sixth rookie to lead team in goal scoring?
"It’s pretty cool. I would have liked to have had a little better ending to my season, but I think it’s a great honor. I played with great players all year so I was put in a great situation to achieve that."
What did you learn about yourself?
"How much I love playing hockey every day. I knew I always loved it, the games, the preparation and everything going into it, this has been the best year ever and so much fun. I’m really excited to start this playoff run. It’s going to be a lot of fun."
How about reaching the playoffs for the 25th straight season?
Goalie - DET
GAA: 2.80 | Sv%: .906
"You just have to get in and you never know what can happen. It’s a new season now. Just go out there and just play. This is the fun time of season we’re in. It’s another great accolade, 25 years straight now running. Now we just go out there and just play."
What about those who say you backed in?
"They can say whatever they want. We’re in the playoffs that’s all we cared about."
What did you feel when you were pulled and they got the empty netter?
"My first reaction was I turned to Glennie and asked what was going on in the other game. That was my first reaction. I think he said it was 5-1 and I looked down and said, ‘Ya right.’ Just went back and asked Blashill what the game plan was and I went back in the net and came right back out."
How about being the third star of the game?
"I felt really comfortable out there. Once again I thought we really played a great road game here. I didn’t think we really gave them much. Were they missing a lot of bodies? Ya. I thought we did a good job of not really give them too much."
How about the glove save you made in the second?
"Just tracking the puck going across and reading off the stick, that’s the biggest thing your eyes and watching the blade of the stick and where the toe is pointing, whether it’s opened or closed and it was closed so I had a pretty good read that it was going glove side."
If you look ahead to Tampa, do they look a different with no Stamkos?
"No. Not at all. They still have a lot of weapons. They have a lot of great players on that team. They’re going to be ready to go."
How eager are you to play?
"This year is it seems like home ice advantage is key playing each other, but you have to find a way on the road in the playoffs to steal one."
How do you feel about the team after two straight losses?
"It’s a fresh start. It’s over and done with. Now it’s a new season. So let’s go have some fun down in Tampa."
How satisfying is it for you, that Feb. 21 game here kind of showed you were back?
"I was feeling more and more comfortable in the net previous games before that. Even though I wasn’t getting the results or the puck luck I was battling every single day early on the ice with Jimmy (Bedard), stayed out late, was one of the last guys off. Just constantly worked and I was able to rebound."
What does taking over as the starter mean to you?
"It’s tough to put into words for me. It’s such an honor to play night in and night out for this organization, for the Illitches and Kenny Holland and all the guys in the room so it’s just a huge honor."
Was that the toughest part of your career, that stretch between January and February?
"I don’t know, probably. I’m not going to reflect on it right now. That’ll be more for when everything is said and done. Right now I’m just focusing on getting out of the first round."
How about making the playoffs?
Left Wing - DET
Goals: 19 | Assists: 23 | Pts: 42
Shots: 155 | +/-: -16
"It’s been tough. Since I’ve been here it’s never been easy. I think this is the most parity and toughest it’s been. There’s no easy games. But it’s a big accomplishment for this group in here and we’re a very confident group, know we can play with anyone, and we’re looking forward to the matchup with Tampa."
How satisfying regardless of how you got in?
"It’s satisfying but at the same time we’re not content with just getting in. We know last year, obviously how that finish in Game 7. We were that close and they go on to get the Finals. We know what type of group we have in here and it can be an exciting run if we do things right and play for 60."
How do guys feel keeping the streak alive in Blashill’s first year?
"Guys are excited. Obviously disappointing that we lost tonight but at the same time we won a big game at home against Philly, against a good team, and earned our way in throughout the season and got enough points to get in. We’re excited about the opportunity we have and looking forward to going back down to Tampa."
How do you think you played today?
"I thought we played good. I thought created a lot of chances, goalie made some good saves, sometimes no puck luck for it to go in but we did a lot of good things. Rangers are a good team no matter who’s in their lineup. They got a good, hard-working team. Those type games are going to happen but I thought we did a lot of good things and now we’re going to get ready for Tampa and get prepared."
Did you know about the Boston-Ottawa game during your game?
"I didn’t hear about it until after the second period."
How did you find out you were in?
"Someone had said that Ottawa was up 5-1. I think it was the end of the second period."
What was your reaction to hearing the Ottawa-Boston score?
"It’s surprising but at the same time I knew Ottawa was going to give them a tough game. They’re not going to lay down and just give the game to Boston. They’re a good team and guys are fighting for jobs, fighting for playing time, and obviously they played a good game. It’s a good thing obviously for us but now we’re focused on this is a fun time and this is why you play the regular season and go through the grind to have fun here in the playoffs. I really like our group. I think we’ve been playing well and if we can play 60 minutes and the type of hockey we’re capable of playing I think we’ll be a tough team."
How about the team’s health and yourself?
"Everyone just kind of gets a little boost, getting through the regular season into the playoffs. I think everyone is going to be fine. Every team has some injuries, battling through injuries this time of year, it’s no different. This is the fun time. It’s when you want to play and you’re going to play through whatever you have to play through."
Do the Tampa Bay injuries give you an opportunity?
"Injuries are injuries. Obviously for them it’s going to be next man up and we can’t worry about who’s in or who’s out. We got to take care of ourself and how we need to play. It doesn’t matter who dresses, who’s the 20 players on their side. It’s worry about ourselves."
Wasn’t the way you wanted to get in but you got in, how relieved are you?
Defense - DET
Goals: 8| Assists: 12 | Pts: 20
Shots: 72 | +/-: 2
“It wasn’t always pretty for us this year. If felt like the last few weeks we really battled hard and gave ourselves a chance to get into the playoffs. There were a few days there we were looking at the standings and we were on the outside looking in. It feels pretty good to get back in there this year, that’s for sure.”
Did you like the way you guys responded after first period?
“I thought we played pretty well after we got going. The first wasn’t one of our better periods. Once we got going we had a ton of shots and some chances that unfortunately we couldn’t put in to net but I guess that’s how it goes sometimes. There’s not much you can do. You just gotta keeping playing hard and get pucks on the net and bang home rebounds.”
How strange is it to lose yet have a happy locker room?
“It’s the 25th year we’ve made it. I don’t know how many times this has happened (back into playoffs) but we don’t really care.”
What was the feeling on the bench when the Rangers scored the empty netter?
“It wasn’t a great feeling. Like I said earlier, I thought we had some chances there in the third that we could have easily buried and tied up the game but it was tough when they scored the empty netter. It wasn’t a very good feeling.”
Was there any chatter on the bench about the Boston-Ottawa score?
“I didn’t hear anything so no, I didn’t know what was going on.”
You didn’t hear until you got to the locker room?
“Yeah, right, right. And then the game was still going on in here. We didn’t hear anything out there.”
What was your reaction when you heard that Boston had lost?
“Everybody was excited. It’s a good feeling when you get into the playoffs. Once you’re in there it doesn’t matter how you make it. Like I said, the last few weeks we’ve put ourselves in a position to get into the playoffs and try to make a run here. It was a lot of hard work. We got a little help today but that’s how it goes sometimes. We’ll take it.”
How optimistic are heading into the playoffs knowing you gave Tampa Bay a tough series last year?
“Yeah, in the NHL there’s so much parity. Anybody can beat anybody on any given night. It’s going to be a tough series and obviously we know them pretty well playing in the division with them and in the playoffs last year. It’s going to be a battle out there. Should be a tough series and hopefully we can come out with four wins first.”
How much pressure was on the players to keep the 25-season playoff streak alive?
“I’ll be honest, the last month of the season it’s kind of in your head a little bit, in the back of your head. You don’t want to let guys down who’ve played the last 25 years. Everybody who has been in this organization has worked really hard to have that streak and it’s a great honor to put the Red Wing jersey on and go out there and try to keep the streak going. I think it’s always in the back of your head a little bit, especially with the season winding down and everyone so close in the standings. But it’s something that you’re thinking about a little bit.”
Seeing Vladimir Konstantinov on the team bench before the Philly game last week; how much does that inspire this team?
“Sometimes we see Vladdy or we see some of the guys who are now retired around the rink walking around. There’s a lot of guys who come into the room sometimes and you think about it. The streak has been going on for a long time and there’s a lot of guys who have been a part of it. Anytime you see them and get to say hi to them and talk to them a little bit it’s kind of inspiring a little bit.”
Is it especially inspiring to see Vladdy since you know what happened to him, and the type of player he was?
“Yeah, Vladdy was one of the great Red Wing defenseman. I used to love watch him. Some of Kronner’s hits remind me a little bit of Vladdy out there. He was a great player and guys always had their head up coming across the line. He was just one of the better defensemen I remember watching.”
|Riley Sheahan celebrates his 14th goal of the season. His third power-play goal of the season tied the score at 1-1 in the second period Saturday. (Photo by Dan Mannes/Detroit Red Wings) |
How about the opportunity you have now?
"It's great. Again, our goal at the beginning of the season was to win a Stanley Cup and to do that our immediate goal then was to find a way to earn our way into the Stanley Cup playoffs and we've done that through the course of the 82 game year so we're excited. We're excited. We know we've got a great opponent in Tampa. Obviously, everybody's real familiar with them. We're going to focus on doing everything we can to play the very best hockey we can."
Is that how you view it, an 82-game process, not losing the last two and relying on Ottawa?
"It's not how I look at it, it's how I know. It's a fact that you play 82 games a year and as many points in the year. That's why when I said game one, game one's extraordinary important and just as important as game 82. This is why. You go through the course of the season and you earn as many points as you can. I also know in one-game deals, like today was potentially, you can play real good and lose, I've been a part of a lot of those. That's why you bank as many points as you can and we had the points and the tiebreaker to earn our way into the playoffs."
How about the chances and shots for you today, especially at the start of the second?
"The first, I thought we were fine defensively but I didn't think we were as good offensively as we were going to need to be. We just talked about keeping great defensive posture but let's attack the game a little bit more and I thought we did that, especially with getting pucks to the net. Once we started getting pucks to the net, Darren Helm did a great job on the first shift of delivering pucks to the net. It creates more chances and I thought the rest of the game we really played real well. We didn't give up much yet we created and that's the way you have to play to be successful. You got to create chances and not give much up and we did that."
When did you find out about the Bruins-Senators game?
"I had an update late in the game. So I was somewhat aware of it. Even with that, I wasn't banking on anybody else. You never know what's going to happen there. So we were trying everything we could do to win the hockey game and unfortunately it didn't go the way we wanted it to with that. Again, I thought our guys played good."
Do you like the way you're playing heading into the playoffs?
"Over the last 12 games, we're 7-5, real close to being 8-4 here today. I still think we've got another level. One thing I know for sure about playoffs is it's a new year. Everybody starts 0-0 and everybody's so tight in the NHL, let's see what happens in game one and you go from there. Confidence can be gained as you go through the playoffs, I know that for certain. I saw that my first year in Grand Rapids, we gained confidence as the playoffs went along. We had a great team by the end. I like a lot of what we're doing, let's keep getting better here."
Why did you go with Andersson instead of Mantha or Jurco?
“I knew Abby was going to play but I didn’t know how he was going to respond and we wanted to make sure we didn’t get caught without a penalty killer on the bench. Obviously Andy didn’t get a chance to play much, which is unfortunate but we needed to make sure we had enough penalty killers on the bench. I thought Jurco played good the last couple of games but when you don’t play on either specialty team there’s only so much you can do. Having Andy in there, not only is he another penalty killer but it gives me the choice between him and AA. AA is a good killer but he doesn’t win faceoffs. Andy wins lots of faceoffs, so it gave me a one-two punch of an extra killer if we needed it.”
Will Andersson stay with the team in the playoffs?
“We’ll decide that as we move along.”
Did you see him being off-sides on that goal that was overturned in the first period?
“We knew it was inside.”
Were you concerned about that early on that it would take away momentum?
“You’d like that to count and give you energy but we knew that right away. It was obviously close but our guys knew it by the time he made that decision.”
What did you think of the job that Howard did late in the season to bounce back from a shaky January and February?
“I think it’s tremendous character he showed this year. It’s easy to have great character when things are going well. When things aren’t going well it’s not easy. He didn’t feel sorry for himself, he went to work, he went to work with Jimmy Bedard and he got his game in a spot where he felt he was going to be confident when he got back in games. I watched him in practice, I saw his game get back in order, I saw him feet set, I saw the puck sticking to him, I saw him in control of his body and I think it was in this building (Madison Square Garden) here where he kind of had a breakout game saying ‘I’m back.’ So he’s done a real good job. We’re real happy he’s in that spot. To be honest with you I see the same thing going on with Petr. I see him as somebody who’s getting his game back and in a good spot. Jimmy’s done a great job. We’re real happy with the way he’s attacked it.”
What was the message to team, they said it was you who told them they were in the playoffs?
“We had it on there a little bit, so once we found out we were in my biggest message to them was to congratulate them, one, remind them that we earned our way into the playoffs and two, let’s go ready to beat Tampa.”
Larkin is the sixth rookie in franchise history to lead the lead in goals, what have you seen from him between Game 1 and Game 82?
"There's two things I think you need to do to be in that spot. One is ability and drive and he’s got those two things, and two is opportunity, he certainly got lots of that as well. We’re going to need Dylan to be a top-line player for us through the playoffs, not be a 19-year-old kid. He seems to embrace those opportunities, so I look forward to seeing him play in the playoffs.”
He’s a rink rat, isn’t he?
“He’s a rink rat for sure, he’s somebody who just loves being on the ice, loves shooting, loves doing all those things. Some of that comes with youth. As you get older and you have family to go home to they don’t let you hang around as long but he’s definitely got that rink rat mentality, just loves being on the ice.”
DetroitRedWings.com editor Dana Wakiji contributed to this report.