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April 24, 2007

Daniel Alfredsson

Bryan Murray

DAVID KEON: Hello, everyone. I'm David Keon of the National Hockey League's public relations department. I'd like to welcome you to the second in our series of calls today featuring participants in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
With us we have Ottawa Senators coach Bryan Murray who will answer some questions for about 10 minutes, and will be followed by his captain Daniel Alfredsson.
Thanks to Bryan for taking time to answer your questions is and thanks to Phil Legault of the Senators public relations staff for arranging the call.
Following a 4-1 series win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Senators will open Round 2 Thursday night when they meet the New Jersey Devils in New Jersey. Game 2 will also be at Continental Airlines Arena on Saturday, with games 3 and 4 on Monday and Wednesday back at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa.
Thanks to Bryan for taking the time to join us and answer your questions. We'll open it up for questions now.

Q. Could you talk about the play of Chris Phillips and Anton Volchenkov throughout the first round and throughout the season?
BRYAN MURRAY: They've been our key match-up pair of defensemen. They've been real solid, obviously. I think both of them have developed their game even beyond what they were a year ago. There's no question that if you don't have that kind of shutdown pair, our team, number one, wouldn't have had the year we had, and number two, wouldn't have been able to stop Sidney Crosby and his group the way we did.

Q. Can we expect to see that pairing against the Gionta, Elias, Gomez line?
BRYAN MURRAY: Certainly part of that time will be that way. The other line we have to recognize is the Parise line. I think they were very, very good for them in the early series. We will have to play a little bit of toss the ball in the air and see which one is going on a given night.
They're certainly our priority pair.

Q. Could you talk about the development of Ray Emery, like where he was a year ago compared to where he is now.
BRYAN MURRAY: I think to begin with, he was the number two guy last year. Therefore, the necessity for him to get better wasn't quite as big a deal. But with Hasek going down, going through the playoffs last year as a rookie, at times we didn't play so well in front of him, I thought that he showed some signs of being a rookie.
This year he came in. We had signed Martin Gerber. Certainly Ray I believe thought he was relegated again for a period of time at any rate. But he really worked and battled. He obviously had a great summer last year, as well, at a hockey camp that he spent some time at.
I thought he came back. When we had to win some games, he certainly stepped up, took over the number one spot. I feel now that he's reached a level of almost a veteran goaltender. He's athletic, he's still young. His poise and his ability to make big stops is so much different than last year. It's even shocking to me at times to watch him play in comparison.

Q. Coming out of the lockout, we all talked about the Senators as being sort of a new-rules team, everybody saw them as the skating team that everyone wanted to be. It's almost as if this year you didn't have the same spotlight. Do you think that's true? If so, do you think it sort of helped your team find itself this year?
BRYAN MURRAY: I think what happened last year, without a doubt, we did have a fair amount of skill. We had an ability to score goals, in particular in the first part of the year where we got off to the great start. It was all based on skill. As we all know in this business, that will take you a ways. You get to playoff time, very definitely it didn't. I mean, we found that we couldn't score very easily, and we didn't defend nearly as well. Certainly losing Dominik Hasek after the Olympics was a real mental block for us as much as physical.
This year we came in, we had lost some players. The new NHL will demand that of other teams in the future. I think Ottawa was first, losing people like Havlat, Chara, Hasek, the type of player that you just can't afford to keep all of them. We got penalized that way.
But we brought in a few different types of players. I don't think we were recognized certainly as being as good a team. Early on, we weren't. Without a doubt, the adversity that we faced, the questions that we faced, has helped this team mature and be much more blue-collar in their approach, much more disciplined. I'm hoping it pays dividends. I know against Pittsburgh it certainly did.

Q. The blue-collar approach of your team, how different of a Senators team is this than we've seen in playoffs past?
BRYAN MURRAY: I only had last year's experience here. But very definitely we, like a lot of teams that have any success at all, have to play defense first. You have to get goaltending. You have to work hard. I think this team has done that much better in the second half of the year in particular and in the first round than the team I had a year ago. I think we're much more willing to show patience, not turn the puck over because of the need to score a goal this minute. I think that's made a great difference in our attitude, and as I said earlier, I hope in our ability to win games that are more difficult to win, tight in fashion. New Jersey will be an example of that. I think they're a great checking team. They work real hard. If you break down against them, they eat you up.
I'm hoping we're better prepared that way.

Q. You had some injuries midway through the season when Spezza went down. How much did losing a guy like that serve as a catalyst going back to that blue-collar approach?
BRYAN MURRAY: I think that's part of the adversity we faced. At that time we had him. We moved Fisher for one game and he got hurt. Then Vermette got hurt. We were playing without our top three centers at the time. I think it really was a catalyst for getting a lot of guys to pay attention more, to understand that people do get hurt in this league, and you better be able to win games without them.
I think the overall approach, the overall discipline of our team really was elevated at that time.

Q. The Devils had trouble scoring this season, yet coming into the playoffs they got their number one line going fine. Parise is scoring, as well. What are your observations as Parise as a young player, what he's done for the Devils?
BRYAN MURRAY: I'm not sure how they ever got him at the pick they got him at, to start off with (laughter). I was in Halifax when he played in the World Juniors. We all recognized that he was going to be a top-end guy.
He's almost exactly what we thought he'd end up being: a very competitive guy. He gets good goals driving to the net, but he gets dirty goals because he's not afraid to get his nose dirty around the crease, do the battles that are necessary to win hockey games. I think he's just become a real top-end kid. Obviously lots of character. Too bad he's playing for New Jersey today.
But very definitely a quality guy. That's what I think about the Devils, they've got their top line that are phenomenal in a lot of games. Then they have the next line with Parise and Langenbrunner there that are real character guys that score goals. They're a scary team offensively as much as we talked about their defensive style.
DAVID KEON: Thanks, Bryan, for your time today.
BRYAN MURRAY: Thank you, David.
DAVID KEON: With us now we have Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson, who led Ottawa with six points on three goals and three assists in Round 1. We'll go right to questions for Daniel.

Q. In previous playoffs it seems like the scoring sometimes dried up all at once when yourself and some of the other offensive threats were checked tighter. You weren't getting that timely goal from the third or fourth lines. What are you seeing this year that makes you think that might change?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: Well, I think as a team we're pretty well-balanced. I think everybody takes pressure off each other. We know if we take care of our end, we're going to find ways to score some goals.

Q. A lot of Devils were saying, before they even drew you in the second round, that the series you played each other in 2003 was the toughest series any of those guys had ever played in. What are your impressions of that Eastern Conference Finals, the rollercoaster nature of it? How tough of a series was that for you guys?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: It was a very competitive series. I think both teams at the time, we played a different style then than we do now. We were very much a trapping team as well as New Jersey. It was a very close series. They went up 3-1. We were able to battle back, force a Game 7 at home, lost in the last couple of minutes. The other time we played Jersey, as well, was a tight series.
When you play New Jersey, you're just going to have to be smart, stay out of the box as much as you can. Goaltending's going to be a big factor.

Q. You're a much more blue-collar team than you were back then. How different mentally is this group than that group, the way you play the game?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: I think what we went through this year with a tough start we had, battled back, get ourselves into the playoffs, I think a lot of people played different roles. They have bigger roles as the season went on. I think we're a deeper club now probably. We just see this as a great opportunity for us to keep pushing and keep putting ourselves in good position going through the playoffs here.
I think, you know, it's pretty much up to God, all four teams left here in the east are pretty equal. Hopefully we can play our best hockey in the next few weeks and move on.

Q. How do you go about preparing for a series against Marty Brodeur who has had so much success in the playoffs?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: Yeah, I think you have to try to get people to the net. New Jersey is going to try to give you the perimeter. They're going to let you have the possession of the puck quite a bit. Take the puck to the net as quick as you can and have someone going there all the time.
I think Tampa Bay showed he (Brodeur) is mortal. You can't let him get into your head. We just got to play our game. We know we can create a lot of offense. We've got to do it smartly.
DAVID KEON: Thank you very much, Daniel, for your time today.

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