In his postgame press conference last night, Lightning head coach Jon Cooper was asked about the Penguins line of Carl Hagelin, Nick Bonino, and Phil Kessel, and some of the problems they present for his team to defend. His answers gave glowing credit to the Pens players and remarked about the speed and skill that they bring to the table.
Q. Conventional wisdom for teams defending the Penguins is you have to focus on the Crosby and Malkin lines. Has the production from that Bonino line changed that from your perspective at all? Like do you have to focus on them a little bit?
COACH COOPER: I think, like when you look at their team, Phil Kessel probably doesn't get near the respect he deserves. I mean, he's scored a ton of goals in this league. Bonino's kind of one of those underrated players that he's always playing with Getzlaf and Perry. You look at the teams he's playing, and there's always been named stars ahead of him. He's a heck of a player. Hagelin's won everywhere he's gone, the teams he's played on. But they get overshadowed by the big name guys. But they're a deep team, and those guys have found some chemistry together, and as Corey was saying, you just can't depend -- if you're going to make a run in the playoffs, you just can't -- you can depend on a few games from some guys, but you've got to start getting scoring from your entire lineup, and they found a way to get some. You know, Cullen's got one, and that's where we've got to be a little bit better.
Q. Does their speed present any problems unique to tonight? It seemed like a couple of goals their guys just kind of darted in quick little areas?
COACH COOPER: Yeah, a couple of missed assignments. We clearly missed one on that first goal. Hagelin never should have been as open as he was. So we definitely had some issues there. But we're a quick team as well. So you're going speed on speed. But they've got a lot of it, and it's -- regardless of how much speed you have, it poses a problem both ways. We just haven't handled it the way -- as well as we should have..
Jon Cooper is a very, very, smart guy. He gets it. Hagelin, Bonino, and Kessel have been great and the Crosby and Malkin situations cause problems for defensive matchups. If the Lightning and Jon Cooper want to try and get Victor Hedman and Anton Stralman out against Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin, this opens the door for that line to continue to thrive.
(Quotes courtesy of NHL PR, transcribed by FastScripts by ASAPSports)