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NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE MEDIA CONFERENCE
May 7, 2007
DAVID KEON: Good afternoon everyone. I'm David Keon off the National Hockey League's public relations department, and I'd like to welcome you to this, the third in our series of calls today featuring participants in the third round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
With us now we have Anaheim Ducks Head Coach Randy Carlyle. Thanks to Randy for taking the time today and thanks to Alex Gilchrist of the Ducks public relations department for arranging the call.
Anaheim followed up a 4-1 series victory over the Minnesota Wild by defeating the Vancouver Canucks in the second round also winning the series four games to one. The Ducks will open the Western Conference Finals later this week either at home to San Jose, or against the Red Wings in Detroit.
Thanks to Randy for taking the time today so join us and answer your questions.
Q. We know that you don't know who you're going to be facing yet, but in winning two series in five games, is there anything that you want to see your team do better than they have done throughout the tournament?
COACH CARLYLE: Well, I think there's always areas of improvement. I don't think that you could ever say that we're completely satisfied with our whole team game. I think there's been parts of our game as a group that we went for stretches where we've been very ineffective. We turned the puck over far too many times, and I guess the hugest area of concern for us right now would probably be our penalties. I don't think that we could continue to take the penalties at the rate that we have in the first two series to continue to have success here as we go forward.
Q. You guys were heavily penalized throughout the regular season; is there a bit of a changing of the gears that your team needs to EMBRACE here in the playoffs where things are more magnified?
COACH CARLYLE: I think in the regular season, it was a different type of penalties we were attracting. I think there was a lot of fighting majors that followed our hockey club and that put us at a distinct disadvantage as far as the number of minutes that our team was getting per night.
But in the playoffs there has not been as many fisticuffs, and we've been taking far too many minors, and those are the ones that are tough. We put ourselves down five-on-three a couple of times, and those things are real draining and we've been able to escape the games without getting scored on.
But if you continue to give teams opportunities, they are going to find the way to put the puck in your net.
Q. One last question, (Ryan) Getzlaf, he seems like he's really having a breakout tournament here, is he just beginning to scratch the surface in terms of what he's capable of?
COACH CARLYLE: We think that Getzlaf is a special player, and he is a young guy that is a big man with soft hands.
There is an aura about him that he could be as good as he wants to be. When people say that, then obviously there's some things that we'd like to see him do better and there's things that we're going to push for. He's a young player and he's accepted the possibility of delivering for our group.
I think some of the parts, when you start talking about Getzlaf, it's (Corey) Perry, (Dustin) Penner, those three guys. Some of that line, they are big men that have skill and they are young. They are at the forefront with our youth right now.
Q. Wanted to talk about (Jean-Sebastien) Giguere, he leads the season with 1.28 goals-against-average, can you talk about how good he's been for your club to this point?
COACH CARLYLE: Well, with Jiggy, you know, he has been pretty solid. Obviously the statistics bear that out. He did not play until later in the first round, (Ilya) Bryzgalov started against Minnesota until complications and the birth of his child. So Jiggy grabbed the net for the game against Minnesota in the first round and gave us the type of goaltending that's required to have success. And we won and then we went right back to him.
And he has not really faltered in any way, shape or form. He's been rock solid. He has not had to be spectacular in a lot of ways, but he's just given us a chance night in and night out. That's all you can ask of your goaltender. He's been in this situation before, and he's a veteran guy and carried this hockey club to the Stanley Cup Final before, and hopefully this is another sign that he's ready to do that again. As we always know, the next one is the most important one, and we'll have Jiggy at the forefront.
Q. Now, he did have to deal with a family matter just before the start of the playoffs; can you kind of talk about his mental toughness and how he's been able to shift his focus back to the team so quickly?
COACH CARLYLE: Again, I think with any hockey player, the things that happen in your life, the personal things that happen are part of life and you really haven't got any control over it. You have to deal with that the way you and your wife and your family see fit. He was able to do that.
He had a tremendous amount of support from the organization and his friendship and his family, so he was I guess at ease once the situation was clarified and there was no further implications. Then he wanted to come back, and as most hockey players will tell you, the rink is kind of a haven for you. It's a comfort zone, and he was able to come back in and step in. He worked a couple of days with Francois Allaire. He got back into a situation where he felt he was ready to play.
And the first time he gave him the tap on the shoulder, he was more than ready and he's more than able to continue carrying that. It's just a continued test of the character of the individual, and he came out with flying colors.
Q. You talked about 2003 and how special that was for him; can you kind of compare how, I know you were not coaching at the time, but can you kind of compare how his performance stacks up to 2003?
COACH CARLYLE: I think we are a much different hockey club, if you do an analysis of the type of game that they played in 2003 versus the type of game we play.
They were strictly more of a trapping team and the team played trap, trap, trap; we play more of a north/south type of hockey game, and the new rules don't allow you from our perspective to play that trapping system. So we try to play as much of an up-tempo game, a forechecking game, as possible.
So the comparisons, you would probably have to ask somebody else on how strong he did play. But I do think that he won the Conn Smythe Trophy for the Most Valuable Player in the playoffs that year on a losing team.
Q. Everyone knows about (Scott) Niedermayer, (Chris) Pronger, (Aaron) Rome and (Sean) O'Donnell, but your fifth and sixth guys, (Kent) Huskins and (Joe) DiPenta have held their own in the playoffs, and you coached these guys in Manitoba. As the season has gone on, how did they complement the other four guys and mature as NHL defensemen?
COACH CARLYLE: Well, those two individuals, I had them for more than two years I guess there in Manitoba in the American Hockey League and one year in the IHL.
Those guys were veteran guys. They understand first and foremost the responsibility of their job, and when you have the other four guys in front of them, that have large, large minutes, they were able to grasp the situation and say, hey, doesn't matter how many minutes I play, I've just got to be safe and I've got to move the puck.
When the other guys -- there was a situation the other night in Vancouver where we're down five-on-three and it was Pronger and Niedermayer in the box while DiPenta gets an opportunity to go out on the five-on-three penalty kill and did a heck of a job. Those are the kind of things that you always ask of your foot soldiers, and those two guys have come in and gave us a big kick.
Q. As far as Huskins, he only played eight minutes in Game 4 versus Vancouver, but he saved a potential goal with his skate that could have given the Canucks a 3-0 lead and you went on to win the game 3-2 in overtime. Is it a play like that that gives you the confidence that he can handle most situations in a playoff atmosphere?
COACH CARLYLE: This was his first playoffs, so you really don't know. It's really trial-by-fire, I guess, is the best way to describe that.
I know the individual. As I said, I've coached him before, and all I know is he's going to give you 110% night-in and night-out. You're scratching your head saying, is it going to be good enough, but more often than not, he's been able to deliver for us. He's a great teammate, he works extremely hard and fits in well with our group.
Q. How was he able in your mind -- how was he able to turn that experience into a positive this season and become the player that you can count on?
COACH CARLYLE: The thing with Joe DiPenta, as we call him, Joe "Dependable." You know what you're going to get. He's going to do everything hard. He's going to work extremely hard at skill set.
He knows he's not a guy that's going to be carrying the puck up. He has to play as close to mistake-free hockey as possible, and he accepts that role. He's been a guy that's stepped up into our lineup here for the last two years and really earned an opportunity. He was a guy that was signed primarily for the American Hockey League prior to the first season here, but he had such a strong training camp that he forced himself into our lineup. You know, he has not looked back since.
Again that's a tribute to the player. He wasn't given anything; he just came in and earned it.
Q. Going into this season, obviously there were a lot of expectations you guys having Pronger and Niedermayer both on the blue line, what has it been like coaching those guys, and has there been anything that's surprised you that you didn't expect you would get that you've gotten?
COACH CARLYLE: Well, I think again, we took on that responsibility of mediocrity was not going to be accepted. With the acquisition of Chris Pronger, it made a huge statement to everybody involved with our organization, and specifically our players, how serious we really were going forward.
And those players have come in, and with Pronger, the addition of him, as we stated before and we stated numerous times, we didn't ask him to do anything other than be Chris Pronger. It does take a period of time for an adjustment period for a player transferring into a new hockey club. There's new surroundings and a new environment as we always talk about. He just needed a little time to be himself. It took him I'd say about three weeks and he was at the forefront again. He was a leader in our room, a big-time minutes guy.
He's a totally different player from Scotty Niedermayer from the standpoint that he uses his size and range and his stick very effectively, where Scotty is a guy that he uses his skating ability. We just feel that we're very fortunate to have those two players on our back end.
And what we try to do, and we've talked about it numerous times is try to at least have those players on for at least 50 to 55 minutes a night combined ice times; that means only five or six minutes that has to be shared with one of them not on the ice.
Q. You can you talk about Dustin Penner's strengths and weaknesses and how much you have to be on him? From what I read, I understand that he gets a lot of your verbal attention these days.
COACH CARLYLE: That's tough love. The thing is with Penner specifically, he's a big man that really has not grown into the size of his body in a lot of aspects. He's a kid that possesses an uncanny ability with soft hands for a big man.
I think that the hugest, I guess, hurdle that he has to overcome is actually finding out how good he can be and how much more he has to give because a lot of things have come rapidly to him in the last little while. He came and joined our hockey club just prior to last year's playoffs, and he came in this year and there was all of these great things that were supposed to be accomplished and there was a point in the season he wasn't accomplishing anything.
You know, again, it's one of those things that if you continue to do it in repetition, usually teaches, and Dustin is at the front of that. He needs to be reminded on a day-to-day basis of where he's at and how he got here, and I don't think that's any different than most young players. It's just that he's a big man, and a lot of people would want him to be more physical or be a guy that's going to have to fight and all of those things.
We don't look at it that way. We just look at it as his overall game and puck control game. When he's doing all of those things and controlling the puck down low, he's a force to be reckoned with. When I do get on him, it's because he's not doing those things.
Q. You made it to a conference final here in Manitoba as well; how do the two compare, pressure, strategy and getting the most out of players?
COACH CARLYLE: Well, the thing is that obviously when you're playing in the American Hockey League, we always took it -- from my time in Manitoba, we treated the players as close to the NHL as we possibly could; the standards in which we did a lot of extra things to make sure it was a positive experience or make sure we create that positive environment. And that doesn't change here in the NHL. More pressure, yeah, there's more pressure, because there's more people in the building and more media coverage that goes with it.
But the actual on-ice preparation, that's still the same. We take those things that you develop and the positive things it that did work for and you the things that -- inaudible -- you try to change and that's important. That's all part of growth of a coach and growth of a hockey club.
Q. What's been the key variable or a couple key variables to the success of the Ducks this season?
COACH CARLYLE: Well, I think that the strength of our group has been our work ethic. Our team work is extremely hard and we have to be a strong forechecking hockey club to be effective.
Q. And you mentioned what Chris Pronger has brought to the team, but can you comment on how he's made the players on him better?
COACH CARLYLE: I think with Prongs, there's a thing that you usually utilize is his ability to retrieve the Cup and to defend and to make that good first outlet pass. And he has that wingspan that he covers half the ice when he's out there being 6-6 and the long arms and whatnot and the long stick and he can defend. All of those great players have strong stick skills on the defensive side.
As far as the power play, he's been a big part of it. He's the guy at the top that he has the ability to get the puck through. Those are things that he does naturally, and those have been real strong assets that he's brought to the table for our group.
Q. You might have talked about this in the past but you went to a Western Conference Final last year against Edmonton, what did you learn from that series and everything that went around it that you're going to apply to this year going into another Western Conference Final?
COACH CARLYLE: I think last year, we didn't play very well in our first game and that was key. Dwayne Roloson and the Edmonton Oilers came in here and won the hockey game 3-1 and we were not very sharp in it. It just seemed that we never really got into the groove of the games from a positive standpoint after that.
And I think that's the most important thing is that our focus has to be at the top of its game for the first period of the Friday night hockey game that we're about to play. It was monumental last year that they were able to come in here and really stole the first two games. But we didn't play well in the first one, as I just described. I thought we played much better in the games after that, but we didn't win. They beat us out in five games.
We did a lot of things well. We outshot that hockey club if I remember 172 to 95 over the course of the series and lost. So we did a lot of good things but we didn't score. Our frustration level got up at times.
I think this time around and what we've tried to implement is we've tried to implement more one-on-one practice drills, more like game-type situations, lots of two-on-two down low, three-on-three down low, one-on-one hockey, and do a lot of the stuff that is physical in practice. You know, you're not going to be out there running your teammates over, but there has to be those pushing matches and shoving matches and competition for the puck to keep them game-shape sharp.
DAVID KEON: We now have with us Ryan Getzlaf. Ryan is tied for second in scoring with three goals for seven points playing in all ten Ducks playoff games.
Thanks to Ryan for taking the time for joining us.
Q. Just wanted to ask you, it's been a breakout playoffs for you, your second playoffs, but what are the sort of things you prior to get good at as you try to develop as an NHL player?
RYAN GETZLAF: I think you get a little more confident and stuff out on the ice in the little things and where you need to be in certain situations and know that you don't have to work quite as hard to accomplish a lot. You know, you can kind of more sit back and play your position a lot more on the defensive zone than getting excited and get running around a little bit.
Q. Would you say you're more mellow this time around than your first playoffs?
RYAN GETZLAF: Oh, for sure. I think this year obviously I'm playing a lot different role and last year we were kind of the forefront and we were more of an energy line than anything. And all we had to do was go out there and create something whether it was a big hit or whatever. So this is a little bit different.
Q. Your why line has got a lot of attention in the playoffs this year. What is it about playing with those guys that maybe is enabling you to be successful? Is it just you guys have good chemistry or because you all play the game the same way; you're all fairly big and have decent hands?
RYAN GETZLAF: I think we do have a lot of chemistry between us, and obviously me and Perry have played quite a bit, and the acquisition of Penner and him playing on our line now, it's great, he's a big man. We're a strong cycling group, and as long as we can control that puck, we're a really effective line.
Q. Obviously you guys get some sort of pressure alleviated by that top line with Andy (McDonald) Teemu Selanne. What have you learned from Teemu, watching him play and the way he approaches the games?
RYAN GETZLAF: Teemu is a guy that he's having a blast right now. That's the main thing you take out of a guy like that. He works hard every day when he's at the rink, and he's just enjoying himself and enjoying the game that we're playing right now.
You know, to have a guy who comes to the rink and be a leader and who is willing to just kind of go out there and lay it on the line every night and have fun with it while he's doing it is awesome.
Q. And last year you got to play obviously in front of Scott Niedermayer, and now you've got both Niedermayer and Pronger; what's the impact having Pronger behind you?
RYAN GETZLAF: It's huge. Not only do we have one of the best; we've got two of them, and to have both of those guys out there and know that chances are, one of them is on the ice all the time. That's a pretty strong feeling up front when you've got one of them to back you up in certain mistakes and that kind of stuff.
Q. Giguere took a little bit of a back seat to Roberto Luongo in last year's playoffs, but he played great for you guys. Can you talk about what his performance meant to the team during that series?
RYAN GETZLAF: Well, he's been huge. He did a great job coming back after he dealt with his family stuff and he's been 100% focused ever since then. He's played outstanding for us.
Like you said, he kind of took a back seat to Luongo who was playing well and that's fine. He doesn't need to bring attention to the spotlight. He's just out here doing his job and we're confident with him in the net.
Q. Were you surprised he was able to refocus so quickly after things settled down with his family matters?
RYAN GETZLAF: I was a little bit. It can't be easy. You know, I've never been through anything like that, and to have a guy who has done it and see how he did it and stuff, it's great. It's great that we had Bryz that was able to step in and give Jiggy that time so he could take that time and deal with his family.
Q. Does his play allow you to be more aggressive?
RYAN GETZLAF: I think so. We've been playing -- we try to play kind of the same way we always do. But knowing that you have a goalie behind and you stuff allows you to make a few of those plays that maybe you wouldn't try if you weren't so confident. We're very confident in the goaltender we have and what he does for us every night.
Q. You touched a little bit on Chris Pronger, but just curious, what is it that he brings to the team's success and how does he make players around him better?
RYAN GETZLAF: Oh, I think he's one of the best obviously for a reason with his skill level and that. It's a lot of stuff. I think it starts right off the ice. He demands that everybody around him tries as much as he does, and he helps us a lot off the ice as well as on the ice.
He's not a guy that will ever accept losing, and as he shouldn't; he does that stuff off the ice and on the ice. And when he's out there, he gives everybody that bit of confidence and stuff in making first pass and knowing that he's behind you.
Q. Talk about how much you'll be glued to the TV set tonight and rooting for the guys to beat the hell out of a each for a Game 7.
RYAN GETZLAF: We'll definitely be watching that's for sure.
Q. I assume you would be rooting for them go all the way, and that you would rather see a battered team or not?
RYAN GETZLAF: It's tough. I think that there's kind of pros and cons to both I guess. It's nice to know who you're going to be playing in our preparation this week as much as you can I guess, but also it's nice to see them go to an extra game, as well.
Q. What are your key concerns on each team whoever you might face in matchups?
RYAN GETZLAF: I think you look at two totally different teams. San Jose is a lot like us in that they are a big, physical group and they like to skate and hit the same way we do on forecheck.
I mean, Detroit is kind of a puck-possession team where they slow things down a little bit and they make a few more passes and try to control the puck.
Q. I assume you prefer San Jose, not only for the fact of home ice, but keeping the travel short.
RYAN GETZLAF: Yeah, the travel is one thing, but I don't think we really prefer either right now. They are both really good hockey clubs, and we are looking forward to get going again.
DAVID KEON: Thanks, Ryan, very much for your time today.
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