Lightning Power Play Radio Transcript from 9:10 to 15:30. For clarity and fluency, I have omitted extraneous uses of the phrases “and,” “uh,” “you know,” and “obviously.”
Steve Duemig: How important was it, Nikita, to end that three game losing streak and come home on a good plane ride and come home to a home stand?
Nikita Kucherov: Well, it’s definitely good to get a “W” after you lost three games. The game we lost in New York [against the Rangers], we didn’t play our best - didn’t do a good job of execution. We talked a lot after. The main thing was preparation for the game and mindset for the game. I think, as you could see, we jumped in the game [against the Islanders] early.
Duemig: You did jump early. Can you explain what causes the lack of - or the break downs? I know it’s a long season. This is a team that’s played together for a couple of years now. Is it explainable? Or is it just a long road trip?
Kucherov: Well, sometimes it happens - little slumps. Every team has it. Last year, we had it a little bit later in the season. We hope that this was our slump in the season this year and it’s good that it’s early in the season. We hope it never happens again in the future.
Duemig: Well, it seems like - so you did get into a players’ meeting and just talk things out?
Kucherov: Yeah, we talked a lot. We had some meetings. The coaches showed us video about the Rangers and what we have to improve and how we have to play better. I think everybody understood. We’re here to play hockey and enjoy it and win the game, as much as we can.
Duemig: [Steven] Stamkos said everybody has to be accountable to each other, and to the team as well. Was that something that was discussed too - supporting each other and accountability?
Kucherov: Yeah, definitely. Stammer said the right thing. We’re here and, as he said, accountable - I think it’s a good word for that.
Duemig: Getting off to the quick start [against the Islanders] was helped by the 4-on-3 power play. Tell us the difference between a 5-on-3 versus a 4-on-3, from an ice perspective and a power play perspective. Or is there a difference?
Kucherov: I mean, I would say it’s pretty much the same thing. We play 5-on-3, we have some different looks on it; 4-on-3 you have something different. It’s kind of the same thing.
Duemig: Less players on the ice - less congestion?
Kucherov: Yeah, yeah - more space. Just kind of trying to create something, trying to shoot at the net, and create some momentum.
Duemig: You had two four-point nights on that road trip. Right before you signed your contract, there was kind of lull between the World Cup and getting here for training camp. Did you feel a little rusty when the season first started?
Kucherov: First couple of games, I didn’t feel my best. There was a little - That was kind of my training camp, the first four games. It’s good to get in the locker room [and] be with the boys.
Duemig: Was there ever a doubt you would not come back to play with the Lightning?
Kucherov: No, there wasn’t. No. Not really.
Duemig [laughs]: You knew Mr. Yzerman would get the deal done, right?
Duemig: How long did you sit on a deal? Was there a deal on the table for you? Or your agent just pretty much took care of it and then called you?
Kucherov: Yeah. My agent was taking care of it. I didn’t even - I didn’t want to talk about it...
Duemig: Stay out of it?
Kucherov: Yeah. I was just trying to stay positive and spend time with my family and my friends. That was pretty much it.
Duemig: Yeah, you never want to get involved in negotiations, that’s for sure. How did you like the World Cup experience, playing for your country?
Kucherov: I thought it was great. Being in the same room with players like Datsyuk and Ovechkin and Malkin - I didn’t know some of the guys, but I had a chance to finally meet them and become friends. Playing against the best players, for myself, it’s such a great experience. I think it’s going to help me in the future to be a good player and good person. It was just great. Being in Toronto, it was a great atmosphere and just unbelievable experience.
Duemig: Everybody talked Russian, in the locker room? [laughs]
Duemig: You talk English in this locker room though, right?
Kucherov: Yeah, but it’s nice to be in Russian.
Duemig: I would imagine, I would imagine. Who impressed you the most on your team, playing in the game? I mean as far as a Russian teammate, who impressed you the most that you maybe didn’t think would be that kind of player?
Kucherov: I don’t know. It’s tough to say...
Duemig: They’re all good. They’re all good [laughs].
Kucherov: Yeah, they’re all good, yeah.
Duemig: Alright, well that’s fair enough. The team is averaging a little over 30 shots a game this year - something that didn’t happen last year. Is that obviously a point of emphasis from the coaches?
Kucherov: Yeah, they’re always telling us - try to shoot as [much] as we can, get shots at the net, and get in front of the net - like in front of the goalies. That’s how Pittsburgh did last year; they were just so hungry at the net. They were hungry for their goals. All they did, just - we could see...
Duemig: So you learned from that?
Kucherov: Yeah, [there’s] something you learn from every team, trying to take to your game, and be better.
Duemig: Final question. Are you happy that the team’s all back? Everybody’s back?
Kucherov: Oh yeah, definitely. It’s nice to have everybody back. As you said, we’ve played together for three years. It’s nice that we have such a great organization - players in that room and coaches - that they kept us together. Hope to [inaudible].
Duemig: Nikita Kucherov, thanks for joining us.
Kucherov: Thank you.