May 16, 2002
RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA: Game One
SAMI KAPANEN: We were expecting a team that plays hard and that's what we got tonight.
Q. After scoring on the first power play, what happened in the game in your eyes?
SAMI KAPANEN: We had so many chances but just couldn't find a way to get the puck in the net. We didn't do it. We had a lot of chances. Kind of the only thing is trying to find the flow of the game, especially with all of the players playing not that many minutes in the power play and we've got to find a way to come back for the next game.
Q. Missing Toronto so many regulars, is it discouraging to lose at home?
SAMI KAPANEN: I still think they are one of the better teams. Obviously, there are only four teams left in the playoffs, they are playing well. They are playing well as a team. It's just one game and now we have to regroup and get ready for Sunday.
Q. Were you surprised at how much trouble you guys had?
ARTURS IRBE: I think they made it in the Conference Finals by playing their game, not by default. So, it's nothing surprising. Obviously they played a great team game. CuJo made big saves. They got enough goals to win the game. So, that's the formula they have used all the way to get here. So I think we played very decent hockey game and obviously pressed hard and just didn't happen. So have to try to be better. Have to the high-stick tips, those are the ones for the referees to call and it was a close call, but tonight it went their way. Maybe the next night we can get the breaks. I really can't make a judgment, I know the puck was going a little bit wide and a little bit high but because the player played the puck in front of me, so it's a tough call. It's right around the cross bar and you know it's a judgment call. So it went against us, but I'm not going to complain about it, but all I know it the puck was going nowhere tonight, original shot and there were probably still a good five, six feet before it reached the goal line. So, it's a tough call.
Q. How discouraging is it with the Leafs missing so many regulars, yet they still come out and win on the road?
ARTURS IRBE: I don't think it's discouraging. Just shows what they are made of and it shows what it takes to get into the big games and to the finals. And nobody ever said it's going to be easy and we have fallen behind. There's still, you know, possibly six games to go, so there's always room for improvement and to catch up with the other team. It erases our home ice advantage, but we have to come back and battle hard the next game, and hopefully get a better outcome. And then we are off to Toronto to see what happens.
Q. To what degree is this a missed opportunity?
ARTURS IRBE: I think we outplayed them a little bit, but they had probably the best team effort that we have seen in the playoffs. It was not easy against New Jersey and it wasn't easy against Montreal, but this was the team that plays best hockey every shift. Everybody knows their role and they play very well, so you have to make note of it and try to outwork them and beat them at their game.
Q. On the goal, did you see the slap shot all the way and did you feel when it was first chipped in, maybe his stick was too high?
ARTURS IRBE: I made the notion to the ref and he said, "I'm going upstairs." So I know it was high and I saw the shot and I had my glove covering the net. The puck was going a little bit far and a little bit high, so from my judgment -- you know how the tennis players are. They always know if the ball is going to hit the baseline or it's going to be over or in. That's how the goalies feel about those posts and frame of the goal. They usually know if it's going in or not. Obviously, it was a heck of a tip. It was on the borderline and the call went their way, and the game went their way. That's the way it goes, so hopefully wet get our breaks the next time.
Q. You knew it was going to be a different kind of game physically, more than against Montreal. Talk about that.
RON FRANCIS: Well, I think we were prepared for a hard seven-game series, and you have to prepare heading into it. You don't get this far in the playoffs by being a bad hockey club. They are a real good team and battling hard. It's going to be a good series.
Q. Not a flow for you guys, to what do you attribute that?
RON FRANCIS: I don't know, there wasn't much flow to the game the first half of the period. So, we'll sit back and look at the tapes and see what we need to do different by Sunday.
Q. Do you feel like you missed an opportunity in a sense that you had an extra day of rest?
RON FRANCIS: Missing one game in this playoff isn't a huge deal, but certainly we wanted to win the first one. We didn't do that now we've got to regroup and refocus and WE'RE ready to win the second one.
Q. How much more difficult was this game compared to the last couple of games against Montreal? Did that have an effect on you?
RON FRANCIS: I think you expect difficult hockey at this time of the year. I thought both teams battled hard. I thought it was a tough hockey game for both teams and it's kind of what we expected coming in and kind of what we expect going forward.
Q. Will there some readjustments?
RON FRANCIS: Mentally, we knew it was going to be a different type of series coming in. We talked about that. I think we're ready for that. I don't think that was a huge surprise for us.
Q. What did you think of Joseph on goal?
RON FRANCIS: He played well. Made a lot of saves for them and we have to find some way to get some past him.
Q. On the power play, you spent a lot of time; they set up the boards pretty well, anything you can do to adjust to that?
RON FRANCIS: We'll see exactly what's taking place, and I still think we had opportunities, scored the first -- we had opportunities to score some, just didn't find a way to get past them. Our power play has been big for us all season long.
End of FastScripts...