Was this one of your best games of the year?
Goalie - DET
GAA: 2.72 | Sv%: .909
"It was a great effort all around. If we continue to play as a five-man unit out there in all three zones we’ll be very competitive and a tough team to play against."
How about your own confidence right now?
"I’ve got to give a lot of credit to the guys in front of me. Guys sacrificing their bodies the last three games. As a goalie when you see guys doing that it makes your job that much more enjoyable and you want to come up with big saves for the guys."
How about the crowd, they were really into it?
"The atmosphere from the crowd was tremendous. You knew the place was going to be rocking. It’s been rocking in here for the last several games now. It was fun, a great way to play our last regular-season game here. Now we’ve got to go out on the road and take care of business.
Have you ever seen two guys have sticks break on the same penalty kill?
"We didn’t panic. We shrank into a small box there. With Giroux, he’s looking to see me back door there, check for the one timer. I think we all knew that’s where he wanted to go with the puck. I just tried to get across and be as big as possible."
How about the play of your defensemen?
"They’re awesome. Kronner had some huge blocks there, especially early on. Our penalty kill was awesome, coming up big with blocked shots. You can go right down the list of every single one of our Dmen. We made quick, simple plays to get the puck out of our zone and that’s what we’re going to have to do to be successful."
You seemed to be able to look around people to see shots?
"They’ve got a lot of big guys that like to crash the net. They just throw pucks in there. We did a great job of tying up their sticks and boxing them out."
Was that the longest empty-net goal you’ve ever seen?
"That was great. That was a 180-footer. It was great to see."
What has changed with this team and you in the last few weeks?
"I think it’s just the paying attention to detail. If you’ve noticed, we’ve definitely limited our turnovers at the blue lines. We’ve been a lot smarter with the puck, not forcing things and taking what’s given. We’ve just got to keep on that path."
When they talk about having been there before, are performances like this what they mean?
"We’ve got several guys who’ve been through this for several years now, playing the last several days to get into the playoffs. The push has been going on here for a while. Even when it wasn’t going so well, the confidence never wavered in this room, especially from guys like Z, Pav, Kronner, Richy. They just kept that calmness over the team."
Are you ready for another back-to-back?
"Yeah. If called upon, I’ll be ready to go."
Is this as good a 60-minute game as you've had in a while?
CENTER - DET
Goals: 13 | Assists: 35 | Pts: 48
Shots: 212 | +/-: -14
"I think we played solid. Howie was big in net tonight and PK did a great job. I think it was two teams that really needed the points and I thought you saw that once in a while, got a little choppy. I don't think it was the prettiest game but we got the two points and that's what matters."
How do you handle a Bruins team fighting to make the playoffs?
"If we're playing like we did tonight, we will have a chance. It's a short turnaround for us, just got to get on the plane here, get some fluid and food in us and get ready for tomorrow."
Do you like the way you stood up to the Flyers' physical play?
"I think playing against them is whistle to whistle. Whatever happens after that, you don't want to get engaged in that. That's what they want and I thought we handled ourselves pretty good."
How about the penalty kill when two guys are without their sticks?
"It makes it a little harder. But the pucks that went through, Howie was there. It's nice to see that it went up in the netting there after a while."
How much of a relief is it when you score first?
"It makes it a little easier to get the momentum when you get the first goal. I thought after that too, when we got a second one we didn't really let off, we kept going and kept playing. They had their chances but Howie was good in net."
Getting a shorthanded goal can be a momentum boost?
"Yeah, you don't see them that often anymore so it was the right guy who got the puck, I guess, and it was a nice move."
How about Howard and the way he's come back from his earlier struggles?
"He's playing really well. I thought both Petr and Howie's been good, they had a stretch where both of them were a little shaky but I thought we didn't play well in front of them either. But now Howie really stepped up to the plate and makes it easier for us to play in front of him."
How impressive is it that Athanasiou can make the most of very few minutes?
"Those kind of players, any one of those players, he really takes advantage of his ice time. It's going to be interesting to see when he plays 18 minutes."
How about the crowd tonight?
"It was a playoff game, right from the start. It was a great atmosphere. We're looking forward to seeing them soon here again."
What did you think of the atmosphere?
Center - DET
Goals: 8 | Assists: 13 | Pts: 21
Shots: 84 | +/-: 4
"It was spectacular. The fans have been good all year but to have them behind us in probably the biggest game of the season thus far was huge. Last home game, we wouldn’t expect anything else from these fans."
How much more comfortable are you guys playing with the lead?
"Yeah, I thought today was probably our most complete game. Howie had to stand on his head a few times for us but I thought that was the most complete game we’ve played all year."
How about the penalty kill, especially the one where you and Helm broke sticks?
“It was interesting. You don’t see that happen too often. Howie made some absolutely unbelievable saves on the PK. The defensemen were great and you need that.”
How about that shift in first where you had three hits in 15-20 seconds and responded to their physical play?
"I thought we did well; in the first five minutes they come out run and gun. I thought we handled that well and protected each other when we needed do and didn’t take any stupid penalties."
What did you think of Howard?
"Unbelievable. With what he’s been through this year, the resiliency that he’s shown, he’s stepping up in the brightest moments and that’s what you expect from him.”
Is that emblematic of whole team at this point?
"Yeah, maybe. I don’t know. You take it one game at a time and obviously it’s a big win for us but we got a huge one tomorrow."
Athanasiou doesn't get much ice time but gets the shorthanded goal in second?
"It’s crazy and if you watch the replay you can see he’s not even moving his feet anymore and the guy’s skating as hard as he can, trying to catch him, so he’s got special speed, he’s got special talent. He’s going to be unbelievable here."
How do you put aside emotion from this game for tomorrow?
"I think we have to. We put ourselves in a spot that we had to win games here, so one win is nice but it’s not going to get us in. We have to come with our best effort tomorrow."
How about your goal?
LEFT WING - DET
Goals: 8 | Assists: 5 | Pts: 13
Shots: 51 | +/-: 0
"I saw the puck coming around the boards, kind of got a fortunate bounce over Vorckek stick and She was yelling and once I heard him yell, ‘Go, go, go’ I kind of knew I was clear cut there so it was a good feeling."
How about making the most of your limited ice time?
"I just have to keep moving on the bench. TV timeout go out for a little skate, but I just have to make sure I stick with the mental part of the game and when you get those little minutes you have to be ready when you get the call."
Did the breakaway open things up more for you?
"Yeah, definitely. When you get moving like that it can definitely open up some ice and get to that free space quick so it’s definitely a big factor to finding open ice."
What does it mean to be a win over bruins to getting into the playoffs?
"It’s a big thing. These last couple of weeks we know how important every game is so we’ve been doing a good job being calm, cool and collective here, even when we were looking on from the outside there for a little bit we stuck with it because we believe in ourselves."
What are you learning from this experience?
"It’s definitely a big thing, obviously. There’s such a history in this organization and when you’re battling for a playoff spot it’ll definitely go a long way."
What is your impression of fans at the end?
"It was good. They stick with us every game. It’s always good to have that extra man, I guess you can say. They can help swing the momentum."
You guys set the physical tone?
"Yeah, definitely. When you match teams like that, their effort with our skill and how good of a team we are if we can match that physicality and play just as tough as them it will separate us."
Were you surprised the puck ended up on stick, was the ice that bad because it looked like an easy hold for Philly?
"Whenever the puck is rimming around with that speed and it’s along the boards it jumps a lot. Not just here, every arena you have those bounces when it comes around the boards fast."
You know what to do when that happens?
"I was picking up a lot of speed from that left side I pulled him far enough to the left and brought it back to that side."
Is this kind of a dream for you?
"It’s always a good help to be a factor for this team and obviously playing as much as I do it’s tough to help produce. I think I’ve made the most of it and getting these wins it’s always fun to be a part of."
Are you able to have fun in these pressure situations?
"That’s what brings the atmosphere with everything on the line out there. We have a lot of players that look for those situations and that’s something I do."
On that empty-net goal, is that exactly how you planned it (banked off half wall and in)?
Defense - DET
Goals: 4 | Assists: 6 | Pts: 10
Shots: 59 | +/-: 2
“I’m saying the stanchions have (blanked) me in the past. So I’m glad it worked out this time.”
That’s not really what you were trying to do with that clearing pass/shot?
“No, our plan was just to get it out and chase down the icing. So, just lucky it went in.”
In terms of the big picture, was this as big a win as this team has had this season?
“I said it to the guys after that game that I think this was our best game and certainly the best game our forwards have played. It made our job very, very easy.”
What did you see from the forwards tonight?
“Just no room, they were in perfect position net three, we never came up any three on twos. Just every time we got them the puck they got it out, not turnovers. It was great.”
What did you think of the defensive effort to clear shooting lanes in front of Howard?
“Yeah, exactly, everything just kind of went our way tonight. When it didn’t Jimmy made some big saves.”
What about the physical style you played with as a team tonight?
“Yeah, the scrums, we didn’t throw any huge hits or fight anybody.”
Guys didn’t back down from any of the rough stuff dished out by the Flyers?
“Yeah, no there was no reason to back down. We stood our ground and it was good.”
Did you think this was Howard’s best performance since the Rangers game on Feb. 21?
“Yeah, he was dialed in just like the Rangers game. We kind of knew it before the game, his mentality, and hopefully that keeps going. This game has been circled on the calendar for almost a month now. We knew and obviously tomorrow’s a big one.”
Some players have capitalized on their opportunities like Athanasiou on the PK, where he scored a short-handed goal?
“Yeah, exactly and Double A gets the goal for sure. You just saw a little bit of his speed there. We knew they didn’t have a sniff and he buries it, that’s the most important thing.”
How have you seen the young guys respond to the pressure of this playoff push?
“Good, they’re kind of learning on the fly. I just think they’re seeing the intensity and the details are kind of … the bar’s being raised. They’re learning every game, so it’ll be interesting to see how they go going forward.”
Another big test Thursday in Boston as that game becomes the game of the season?
“Oh, for sure. If we play like we did tonight we know we’re going to win, so we have a template of what we’ve got to do. There’s really no secret.”
|Andreas Athansiou gives the Red Wings a 2-0 lead with this short-handed goal in the second period. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Detroit Red Wings) |
How about this one?
"It was a good game. I thought we played pretty good, pretty complete game. I don’t want to speak for them but I thought it was a good hockey game. I thought their played fairly good too. I thought it was a good hockey game."
How about the urgency at the start?
"There was great energy in the building. I think that’s great. I certainly thought we had good jump and good urgency. I thought we played real smart. I didn’t think we gave up real good chances. I thought we did a good job of that."
You guys have won three straight, what’s been the difference?
"I think we’ve been better defensively. I think it goes hand in hand. When you’re better defensively it’s easier to make saves and when you make saves it gives you confidence defensively. But I think we’ve been better defensively."
How about the penalty kill?
"I thought our kill did a really good job. Obviously I’ve never seen a situation where two guys break their stick like that and they hit the pipe on that one. But I thought overall our penalty kill did a really good job. Guys did a good job of gutting it out."
How about Howard's performance?
"I think he looks like a guy who’s in a groove and he’s got his game in a good spot. I’ve felt that for a long time actually. I think he worked real hard with Jimmy Bedard to get his game in a good spot and that’s what he looks like to me."
You beat Boston and you’re in the playoffs?
"This was a good win and let’s focus on trying to win a hockey game tomorrow."
How much does a shorthanded goal help?
"You want to win the specialty teams battle and those goals count. So I thought even though our power play wasn’t able to score that allowed us to win the specialty team battle. We had just talked about it as a group yesterday, just about the fact that we haven’t scored enough shorthanded goals. And the one thing Double A can do when he’s out there is he’ll get his breakaways and he’s good on breakaways."
How about the physical response to the Flyers?
"I think we’ve done a good job of that most of the season. I think we’ve got a group that’s willing to take hits to make plays and willing to do all the dirty things it takes to win and I thought we did a good job of that."
Do you know your goalie for tomorrow?
"I’ll make that decision tomorrow."
How about Athanasiou playing two minutes in second and scoring?
"He’s one of the rare players who can make an impact without playing many minutes and there’s not many players like that but he’s got that lightning speed that when he does get those types of opportunities he can really do a good job."
With playoffs looming, has that helped the team sharpen up?
"I just think we’ve got great leadership and you ebb and flow as the season went along. I think we had stretches where we were great defensive and didn’t give up much and created and I think we went through a stretch where we couldn’t score and we probably sacrificed our defense a little to get our offense and I think now our leadership has got this team in a good spot where they understand you take what’s given and you try to create as much as you can but you don’t force things that aren’t there and that’s the key to winning games at this time of year."
Howard gave a lot of credit to his defensemen, but isn't he playing better?
"I think his game's in a good spot, I think he's put himself in a spot where he's in control of his game. He's done a real good job."
Is it cool to hear the crowd chant 'one more year' to Datsyuk?
"I just think in general, I thought our crowd was great. It's a special fan base we have here so I thought it was a great, great atmosphere."
Were you chanting as well?
Does this almost feel like a playoff series, play this one and then gear up for tomorrow?
"I think the one advantage we have is honestly, I felt like we've been in the playoffs all season long. From day one, we've had to grind out wins, everything's been close. We've never been too comfortable in a playoff spot. At times we've been on the outside looking in and I don't think you can ever let it slip too far. Certainly as we've gotten down to the last month here, we've been having to scratch and claw for every point and find ways to keep in the race here so I think our guys are certainly in that playoff type mode."
You don't even have 20 hours before playing again, what's the key?
"We worked with our nutritionist and our athletic trainers and our strength coach to try to have as good a plan as possible to get rejuvenated here so come tomorrow we've got great energy. It's physical and mental so we'll find a way to make sure we're at our very best tonight. There will be zero excuses tomorrow."
Quincey said he thought positionally it was the best game from the forwards all year?
"I thought our forwards did a real good job of -- I would agree with him in a lot of areas that we didn't give much up in terms of making sure we were above people. I thought in our D zone we did a real good job so I thought we did a good job of making it easier on our D."
Was that an adjustment or them playing better?
"I'd say it's more that. It's not been any big adjustments, it's more just continue to try to learn and grow and get better as a hockey team and hopefully we are."
DetroitRedWings.com managing editor Bill Roose contributed to this report.