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NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE MEDIA CONFERENCE


April 9, 2012


Patrice Bergeron

Ryan Kesler

Nicklas Lidstrom

Brad Richards


JAMEY HORAN:  This is Jamey Horan with the National Hockey League.  This is our last call.  We are pleased to have Nicklas Lidstrom, Ryan Kesler, Patrice Bergeron, and Brad Richards.  My pleasure also to introduce Pierre McGuire who will moderate today's call with the players.  I'll turn it over to Pierre.
PIERRE McGUIRE:  Ryan, congratulations on the Presidents' Trophy.  I know you want more.  You guys have built your team to try to get more.  Are you good enough to get more.
RYAN KESLER:  I think we're going to figure that out in the next couple months here.  The team, we know we're going to be judged kind of how we do in the playoffs.  So now the real season begins.  It's going to be a good test, this first round, for us.
PIERRE McGUIRE:  The fan base all want to know what is the physical health situation with Daniel Sedin right now?
RYAN KESLER:  He practiced with us today, so that's good news.  I talked with him.  I think he feels pretty good out there.  Hopefully we see him in the first round.
PIERRE McGUIRE:  Ryan, it's no secret that Darryl Sutter was involved with the Flames.  He's coaching in Los Angeles right now.  Do you think this will be a physical series between LosAngeles and Vancouver.
RYAN KESLER:  Yeah, definitely.  It's one of those teams where their coach has them playing a good season and they're a physical team.  They're going to try to come at us hard, it's going to be a tight series.
PIERRE McGUIRE:  Ryan, Roberto Luongo is your goaltender.  There's been some controversy whether this Schneid should be the starter.  Luongo has been extremely capable his entire career.  What is the feeling of the players in the room?  Do you have two No.1's or is Roberto clearly the starter?
RYAN KESLER:  We have a lot of faith in Lou.  He got us to a Game 7 last year.  Both our goalies, whoever is going to be in, we're confident they're going to do the job.
Also saying that Lou is going to start and he's our number one right now.
PIERRE McGUIRE:  Nicklas Lidstrom, you've never missed the playoffs once your entire National Hockey League career.  I'd be surprised if you ever went into a playoff series as an underdog.  A lot of people think you're the underdog going into this series.  What is that like in your room?
NICK LIDSTROM:  We don't mind that at all.  We don't mind being the underdogs.  Nashville had a real strong regular season, finished ahead of us in points.  I think they're the team to be the favorites right now.
We're looking forward to the challenge, having a chance to face Nashville in the first round.
PIERRE McGUIRE:  Your team was banged up down the stretch.  I just asked Ryan about Sedin.  Where is Danny Cleary right now, Darren Helm?  Any chance of Patrick Eaves coming back?
NICK LIDSTROM:  Both Cleary and Helm skated with us, stayed out there for the whole time.  I expect Cleary to play for us in the first game.  Helm, I think he's almost there.  He's getting closer and closer.  I think we need a player like Darren Helm with his speed up front to play against a very good Nashville team.
PIERRE McGUIRE:  Everyone is talking about Pekka Rinne.  Are enough people recognizing how well Jimmy Howard played this year for you guys?
NICK LIDSTROM:¬† I think so.¬† I think he got selected to play the All‑Star Game.¬† That wasn't a fluke.¬† He played real solid for us.¬† He's been taking steps forward each and every year he's been playing for us.
We have high expectations from Howie and I know he has that on himself, too.  We're looking forward to having Howie.
PIERRE McGUIRE:  You had more home wins than any other team in the league.  Your road wins weren't particularly good.  You have to start in a tough place, Nashville.  What do you have to try to do differently to try to get a good start in Nashville in games one or two?
NICK LIDSTROM:  I think our team defense needs to be better.  We have to play better without the puck, especially against the quick forwards that Nashville has got.  And we have to take care of our own nets first.
Having said that, we're going to get some chances as well and we have to take advantage of the chances of the offensively, too, to get ahead in this series.
PIERRE McGUIRE:  Patrice Bergeron, I know it wasn't all about you, but not only are you good defensively, you're winning a lot of draws.  You're probably going up against Nick Backstrom in this series.  What is the key to shutting him down from where you stand?
PATRICE BERGERON:  I think it's not just about me, I think it's about really the five unit on the ice.  Every time guys like him or Ovechkin are on the ice, it's always about the full unit.  I should say six players with the goalie.  I think we all need to be aware where they are on the ice, ready to look around us for the guys that don't have the puck, because they're that good and they're going to make those plays.
It's about finding the guys on the ice, making sure we play as a unit, talk and communicate on the ice.  That's about it.
PIERRE McGUIRE:  Mark Recchi was a big voice with your team last year.  He's retired, moved on.  They've passed a little bit of that leadership to you.  You've done an outstanding with Marchand and Seguin.  How do you keep them focused on what they have to do to play hockey?
PATRICE BERGERON:  Again, communication is key.  Those are two guys that are very passionate about the game.  For me, it's just about showing them what I've learned from, like you said, Mark Recchi, also some other veterans throughout the years.  Just show them my experience.
Also they have so much talent, it's about just having fun out there and trying to communicate as much as we can and really pass on the leadership, what I've learned.  They're doing a great job on their own.  Each and every day it seems like they're learning and they want to learn, which is key.
PIERRE McGUIRE:  How much will you miss Nathan Horton?
PATRICE BERGERON:  Obviously he's going to be missed.  He's been missed since he left.  Big part of our team.  I can't say enough about him last year in the playoffs.  He scored some big goals for us.
That being said, we can't stop thinking about it.  For us is an adversity we need to overcome.  Last year we've been through it, the past couple years, I think.  Right now we know Horty, he wants to be out there as much as we'd like to have him on the ice.  We can't really think about that.  We have to go out there and play with the guys we have, find a way to play as long as we can to have him back.
PIERRE McGUIRE:  I asked Ryan Kesler about his season, does he want more, can they get more in Vancouver.  You went right to the top of the mountain.  The view is pretty good from up there.  What do you have to do to climb the mountain again.
PATRICE BERGERON:  First of all, it's not going to be easy.  I think we're all back to square one, all the teams want the same thing.  It's about worrying about the round one right now, really about the Capitals, go from there.  I think it's about the first game, really putting the emphasis we get a strong start, all together throughout our lineup, all players playing their role, go from there.  That's about it.
We really need to take care of round one.  It's not going to be easy.
PIERRE McGUIRE:¬† Brad Richards, what is wrong with the New York Ranger power‑play?¬† Something that's been bothering the team since the beginning of the year.
BRAD RICHARDS:  I wish I had the answer.  We all do.  We've been working on it all year.  Overall, if you look at all 82 games, it hasn't been a good percentage.  But I think from March 1st on, we're over 20%.  That's what we're going to keep building on.  When we need it down the stretch, it's been there for us.
PIERRE McGUIRE:  Brad, when you look at your team, you think back to your experience in '04 with Tampa, winning a Game 7 on home ice against Calgary, you had the best defensive record in the east, you lost the Presidents' Trophy on the last day to Vancouver, do you see similarities between your Ranger team and your Tampa team in terms of how they're preparing for the playoffs?
BRAD RICHARDS:¬† Well, obviously there's some similarities because the coach, what he brings to the team, how he wants you to play.¬† The personnel is different.¬† This group's probably maybe overall a little younger.¬† But we've played that way all year.¬† We can't get away from that.¬† These young guys have bought into it.¬† It's a team‑first defensive‑minded, grind‑it‑out type of style.¬† It's worked.¬† I think everybody has bought into it.
It's a little different than obviously Tampa.  Can't really compare the two.  As far as the coach, young guys buying into what he's believing in.
PIERRE McGUIRE:  What one word would you use to characterize your team in New York?
BRAD RICHARDS:¬† Well, blue‑collar probably, I guess.¬† Putting me on the spot here.¬† But, you know, it's that workman‑like mentality.¬† We probably don't have as much talent as some of the teams throughout the lineup, but we make up for it with the work ethic and blocking shots, playing strong defense.
PIERRE McGUIRE:  You played Ottawa four times this year.  You lost to them three out of four.  The one time you beat them was November 9th in Ottawa.  They've had a lot of success against your team.  Why is that?
BRAD RICHARDS:¬† You know what, they're a very talented team.¬† I can't remember every game we played against them.¬† I know we played them twice early in the season.¬† Who knows.¬† The regular‑season schedule, lots of teams can beat anybody on any certain night.
We plan on making it different for them when we start on Thursday.  They're still a talented team.  If you want to give them time and space, they can score a lot of goals.  That's probably why they did it to us.  We weren't as sharp as we'd like to be we'd like to be.
JAMEY HORAN:  We'll open it up for questions now for the media on the line.

Q.  Patrice, Nick and Brad, does it feel different going into the playoffs after having won the Cup last year, or the following year?  Can you talk about what it was like?
PATRICE BERGERON:  It's my first time going through it.  But I think we've learned enough from the experience from last year.  I think it was a battle, it was a grind for two months.  I think we're ready to start that all over again.  It starts from square one.
It's all about the first game and the first series, thinking about that, nothing else.  I think it's pretty much the same as last year.

Q.  Nick, in the years you won it, what was it like coming back the next year?  Did you approach the playoffs differently?
NICK LIDSTROM:  Not really.  I think you gained a lot of experience.  You might add a couple of players or a few players that didn't play the previous year.  But you have the core group there again.
It's similar to what Patrice said.  You kind of start it from scratch again.  You want to get up that mountain again and you start with the first round.  You can't start looking too far ahead about what you can face up again.  You have to focus on that first round, just look at that.  That's how we've been breaking it down in previous seasons.

Q.  If you had to put a percentage on the role that good health plays in the playoffs, can you come up with a number for the guys who have won Cups on this panel?
NICK LIDSTROM:  I think it's hard to put a percentage on it, but I would rank it right up there with being the most important thing to get deep into the playoffs.  You want to have depth throughout the lineup.  You're looking for different players to step up at different times, have the role players win games for you sometimes.
I think health is the most important thing to go all the way.
BRAD RICHARDS:  The experience that I've had when we won it, compared to another run in Dallas where we went against Detroit, it was totally different with the injuries.  In Tampa we got lucky, won some series there early, had everybody going a hundred percent going into the final series, whereas in Dallas we were pretty beat up.
You don't know what can happen either way, but it was a big difference.  Probably helps you win a couple games at the end.
PATRICE BERGERON:  I think, like Nicklas and Brad just said, I think health is important.
As far as last year, we went through the finals, we were pretty healthy.  We lost Nathan Horton in Game3.  But still we were pretty healthy throughout the lineup, it helped us a lot.

Q.¬† Brad, there are a lot of fine offensive‑style defensemen around the league.¬† No one has had quite had the offensive seen that Erik Karlsson has had.¬† Can you address the challenge dealing with the team that has the unique presence of a defenseman like that?
BRAD RICHARDS:  It's a big part of their offense obviously.  He's had an unbelievable year.  Obviously it's going to be a big focus for us to try to limit his time and space, hopefully keep him away from the puck as much as we can.
It's kind of like a rover, he's up in the play, he's such a great skater, he gets back just as quick.  He can take some more chances than other D men can.  We're obviously going to have to have our head on a swivel and get it out of his hands as quick as we can so he can't be part of that offense.

Q.  Is the key a good forecheck to stop his ability to move up?
BRAD RICHARDS:  Yeah, forecheck, and you got to be careful when you are forechecking, he'll jump by you pretty quick and beat you up the ice.
It will probably start down more in their end, keeping an eye on him down there, don't let him beat you back up the ice, create those odd‑man rushes.¬† Still going to be a lot harder said than done.¬† He's a good player.

Q.  It's said that streaky teams do better in the playoffs.  The Senators certainly aren't streaking as they go in.  Are you taking any comfort in that or isn't that an issue for you there?
BRAD RICHARDS:  Yeah, no, we're not looking at that at all.  We don't even know what they've done the last week.  They're a good team.  We've played them four times.  We know how dangerous they can be.
It's back to zero for everybody.  They're going to be just as excited and amped up as we are.  We're not looking at any records or anything that they've done here of late.

Q.  Ryan, is it possible to be even more motivated this year after falling one game short last year?
RYAN KESLER:  Obviously we have most of the same guys back, and falling one game short last year was hard.  We know what it takes, just like whoever made it that far knows what it takes.  We're amped upped and ready to go.

Q.  Anything you learned last year?
RYAN KESLER:  I think just experience comes to mind, the experience of going through something like that, knowing what it takes.

Q.  Patrice, Seguin beat your record to lead scoring on Sunday.  Are you surprised how quickly this kid has matured and grown in two seasons?
PATRICE BERGERON:  Not at all.  Obviously going into the first year, winning a Stanley Cup, that's experience you can't buy.  I think he's grasped that whole experience from that last year.  I think it will help him a lot this year coming into the season.
I think he gained a lot of confidence over the summer, obviously from the run last year.  I think he keeps getting better and better.  It's pretty impressive the things that he accomplished all year this year and he keeps doing.
Like I say, he's a huge part of our team, huge part of our offense.  He wants to learn, which is really important.  So far he's been great.

Q.  Nick, the 12th straight years you've reached 100 points.  Seems like it's another typical Red Wings season.  Also you didn't finish first or second in the division for the first time, so long ago you weren't even in the league yet.  When you look at this season as a whole, how has it been?  Has it seemed normal?
NICK LIDSTROM:  It seems like a normal season for us.  We play real well at home.  We had a real home streak going with home wins, but we didn't play as well on the road as we would like.
Having said that, we're in a strong division, having both Chicago, Nashville and St.Louis that are two teams ahead of us in our division standings, just knowing it's a very tight and tough division we're playing in.
We kept our core group of guys together for a long period of time.  I think that's been one of the keys to our success in the last 16 years, not too many turnovers with the players.  I think that's one of the reasons we've had the consistency of making the playoffs, finishing as high as we can.
JAMEY HORAN:  We'll turn it back over to Pierre for a real quick rapid fire questions for the players.
PIERRE McGUIRE:  Ryan, who is more nervous going into Game1, the fan base or the players?
RYAN KESLER:  Definitely the fan base.
PIERRE McGUIRE:  Nicklas Lidstrom, most of the season you played with Ian White.  Now you're playing with Jonathan Ericsson.  Is that how you're going to start the first round of the playoffs?
NICK LIDSTROM:  Yes, I think we'll start that way for the first round.
PIERRE McGUIRE:  Patrice Bergeron, is Rich Paverley going to be the guy that can play on the right side with David Krejci and Milan Lucic?
PATRICE BERGERON:  Yes, I think it's going to be him.
PIERRE McGUIRE:  Have you ever allowed yourself to envision late at night walking through Manhattan with the Stanley Cup?
BRAD RICHARDS:  Yeah, for sure.  Happened a few times.  Can't get too far ahead, though.
PIERRE McGUIRE:  Thank you, gentlemen.  We look forward to seeing you all on the road.
JAMEY HORAN:  That wraps up our conference calls for today.  Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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