Post-game: Sharks-Blackhawks

post-game press conference

San Jose coach Todd McLelland and Chicago counterpart Joel Quenneville addressed the media after Game 1 of the Western Conference final, won 2-1 by the Blackhawks.


Q. It looked like the game plan at the start of the game was to forecheck.  You did a good job of that.  In the second period, that looked like it broke down a little bit.  Was that your team getting away from their game plan or their team?

COACH McLELLAN:  The second period wasn't kind to us, especially the first eight to 10, 12 minutes.  I thought we got it back.  We were a little hesitant.  We made some passes that went awry.  We fed their transition.  If you do that against a team like this, you're going to end up spending much more time in your zone than you like.

It goes to show, doesn't take much for them to score goals.  They'll find a way to put it in.

Q.  Were you comfortable with a power-on-power matchup tonight, the Thornton and Toews line going toe-to-toe?

COACH McLELLAN:  Absolutely.  Joe has been put in that situation all year.  We played our big players against the other team's top lines.  They've been very successful.  So I feel very comfortable with them on the ice in that situation.

It was an interesting night as far as matches went.  I thought Joel worked very hard to get his checking line out.  We tried to counter it a little bit.  We can get our big boys on the ice, sometimes against our fourth line.  There were times we got what we wanted.  We didn't quite find a way to finish.

Q.  How did you feel about the performance of your top line tonight?

COACH McLELLAN:  Well, you're talking about Jumbo, Patty and Heater, I'm sure.

Again, they had opportunities.  They produced a power-play goal for us, which was important against a very good penalty kill team.  I think what you're probably asking me is the fact that they were on the ice for two goals-against, and got nothing five-on-five.  That happens sometimes.

I didn't think they were poor.  I thought they gave us 22 hard minutes.  But with that said, I think we'll need a little bit more heading into Game 2.

Q.  It looked on the replays like it was Bolland who tripped Setoguchi.  Bolland didn't go to the box.  Versteeg has to go out.  Is that something you've addressed already with someone?

COACH McLELLAN:  We'll talk about it.  That's the breaks that happen within a game.  What we couldn't do was lose our marbles on the bench and start yelling and screaming at the referee.  We had to have some poise and set up a 6-4 situation.

Regardless of who was out there, we had to beat, whether it was Bolland, Madden or Burish, whoever it might have been.  We had to beat a good team.  We weren't going to stand up and yell and scream.  We were going to get our group organized.  If they erred, they erred.  We have to move on.  Can't do anything about it.

 Q.  Talk a little bit about Niemi's play today.

COACH McLELLAN:  Yeah, I thought both goaltenders did what they had to do to keep their teams in when teams broke down.  Niemi made some very good first saves.  We had great looks on second chances that just didn't go in for us.  In turn, Nabby made some saves when he had to, as well.

You know, to be playing in the final four, see the two goaltenders perform the way they did, I think that's expected of them.

 Q.  Might be simplistic, but does the game turn on Niemi's save at the end, the power-play at the end of the second period?

COACH McLELLAN:  I thought it turned a little before that.  Coming out into the second period, we had a little bit of momentum, we felt good about our game.  We came out and had some execution problems, again, in that first 10, 12, 13 minutes of the second period.  Won some faceoffs.  Didn't come out of our end very clean.

You could feel them crawl back in or work their way back into where they felt comfortable.  That's where the game evened out.  From there it was anybody's night. 


Q.  Your penalty killers were pretty busy today.  Talk about that.  And also at the end, looked like the referees might have got the wrong guy, you ended up with Bolland on the ice.

COACH QUENNEVILLE:  Certainly 5-0, you got exposed against a top power-play like that.  You know, I still thought they did a nice job tonight in the high-quality chances, Antti made some big saves to complement the PK tonight or today.  Got through it.  The last kill was a dangerous one as well.

So, you know, we'll look the at it again and see how we faired.

Q.  How much momentum did you get from Antti?

COACH QUENNEVILLE:  I thought it was big.  First period, they come in here, and we know that that was the toughest challenge and hurdle, the building, the energy, the enthusiasm.  The crowd gets into it.  And I think, being off there, and they were off, too, as well.  But we had to kill three.  We were three shorts in the first, they scored on the one.  Only down 1-0 in the first period, we probably felt fortunate.

But I still thought we would have got our feet going in that second period, representative of how we have to play going forward.

We were good in the last couple of periods.  The pace of the game throughout was definitely high end, and what a game.

Q.  At the end of the second period they had a big rush against you, last 12 stops in the second period.  How important was Antti's play?

COACH QUENNEVILLE:  He had some key saves there.  He looked big.  Took away big parts of the net, dangerous plays, a couple of turnovers, couple not getting it in deep.  But I thought we had a significant part of the period, had some high quality as well.  It was their turn almost from the first part of the second to their part at the end.

But the game was on the line throughout the game.  The next goal won, and Byfuglien scored a big one.

Q.  Leading up to the Byfuglien goal, there was some fancy changing, flip-flopping your lines a little here and there.  Were you surprised they were willing to go power-on-power with the defensive zone?  How confident were you in a power-on-power situation tonight?

COACH QUENNEVILLE:  Well, I think Johnny's line when they're out there in the offensive zone, they can make plays.  They got patience with the puck.  Still comfortable with Johnny against anybody.  Know that Bolland was trying to work on the matchup all night.  Wasn't easy.  I think sometimes you're going to be exposed to not the perfect matchup when you're trying to get it on the road.  Sometimes not even easy at home.

At the same time, you know, we got a fortunate break on the goal, retrieval, nice pass, great shot.  Anything can happen when it's a tight game.

Q.  Joel, of course it always takes four to move on.  Can you talk about finally taking the first one in a series and having the advantage early on.

COACH QUENNEVILLE:  I like our preparation all week, the focus and concentration, that was our motivation, to get the first game.  We weren't happy the way we began the last two series.  We wanted to continue on with the way we felt we approached Game 6 in Vancouver.  I thought the guys were good going into that in the game, the last three or four days.

Q.  What was the thought process of putting Toews back on the ice after you took his line off?  Just because he's your best face-off guy?

COACH QUENNEVILLE:  Johnny was about .500.  I think you don't want to deny offensive opportunities for that line.  Made a nice little play, Byfuglien got it away quickly.  A situation you got to be aware who is on the ice.  Sometimes you can get the matchups.  Sometimes you don't mind it in the offensive zone.  At the end of the day, we had to work for the matchup tonight.

Q.  I don't know if you saw it that close, but it looked like Bolland was the one who took that tripping penalty.  Is that a bit of a fortuitous break?

COACH QUENNEVILLE:  You could talk about that.  You could talk about 5-0 against us in power-play.  It's one of those situations where it was a couple, three guys' sticks in the same play.  I don't know at the end of the day.  Still have Toews and Hossa, pretty good penalty killers right there.

Q.  Did you feel like you didn't draw a penalty?

COACH QUENNEVILLE:  I'm not complaining (smiling).