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June 8, 2000

Ken Hitchcock


Q. With regards to Brett Hull, what has he done differently in the postseason versus the regular season to improve his numbers?

COACH HITCHCOCK: I don't know that it's his numbers that are the most impressive thing with us. It is his commitment to the hard play. I mean, he has been a great player for us in the Playoffs. He just is -- his ability to forecheck and his ability to be committed in the gritty areas, he has just been terrific. I think he has surprised and shocked us. I have said this before, he had a tough regular season; but, boy, has he ever really come out and played in the Playoffs. He has played great.

Q. Was it a restless night for you as you look ahead to today; and No. 2, what is your approach to this as you face possible elimination?

COACH HITCHCOCK: This is -- it is funny, because the players, the emotional side of things at this time of year are really on the players -- in the player's control. They're really supplying their own energy from within the group. This is where the leaders and the captains really step ahead; and our group is probably not any different than anybody else's, except that we have some experience in how to deal with this issue. Coaches, we become a little more reflective. We look at things that we maybe would change, or that we'd like to change, or things that we'd like to see us do as we are facing elimination. And you become -- you spend a lot of times reflecting. And I think all three of us did that over the last couple of days, just on things that we felt that were really strong this year and things that we wanted to keep moving ahead, and just a lot of time contemplating -- when you face elimination, on how you want that final game, whenever it is, to play out. If, like I said, if it plays out the way we want it to tonight, we are going to have a great game.

Q. A couple of coaches I spoke with over the last couple of days said that they really felt like if you guys could just send it back to Dallas that your chances in the series improve dramatically. Almost like winning two games, almost, if you win tonight?

COACH HITCHCOCK: Well, I think we feel like that. But I think, also, we know the opposition here, that they are not going to get pushed out of anything. I think what we do feel though is that if we can play 60 minutes, like we did the 40 or so minutes that we played, then we give ourselves just a great chance to win. Because those first 40 minutes we played the last game were terrific. If we can play it with that energy and that discipline, then we think we have got a great chance to win this hockey game.

Q. Can you draw on motivation for this team, the fact that there is a celebration kind of already in place, you can draw on the fact that you can actually stop that from happening tonight?

COACH HITCHCOCK: No, I don't think that exterior stuff -- I think that stuff wears out the first shift. I think our motivation is the fact we just want to keep playing hockey. I think that is the best motivation you could have. We don't want to go away quietly. We want to play more hockey. We like being together. This is a group that has a lot of fun with each other. It is a group that is very tight, very together in the critical times. This is a critical time, but heck, we are still playing hockey and it is approaching the second week of June. It doesn't get any better than that. I think our team realizes that to keep this thing going we need to really have as much hard work and fun as we can have tonight.

Q. You said coaches reflect. What have you reflected on the last couple of days?

COACH HITCHCOCK: Just how many good things have happened to us. We have had so many -- just in these Playoffs alone, we have caught some breaks, some real breaks. Based on opposition, based on our good play, but we have caught some breaks. We need to catch another break tonight. We need to have special performances by special people tonight but we have caught breaks to get to this level. We avoided an opponent early in the round that had given us fits all year. We caught them in the second part of this series in the second round. We caught Colorado in the third round instead of the second. We have caught some breaks. I think what you reflect on is that this is a great opportunity for us to take advantage of it because I am like a lot of other coaches, you are fortunate enough to get here two years in a row; you might never come back again and we want to take advantage of it.

Q. Langenbrunner did not skate this morning. Any question at all about his eligibility tonight?

COACH HITCHCOCK: He won't play tonight, no.

Q. Can you reflect on a situation like this on history at all? I can remember the 1994 Cannucks, 1987 Flyers being exact same situation, down 3-1 on the road, taken to the seventh game, they don't know what they did that --

COACH HITCHCOCK: The Vancouver situation we did because people had some -- some people called us from Vancouver and talked to us about it. One of the things that happened in that series was it got into a real long distance series. I think that you, know, our situation is that we feel like it is the first period that is going to make the difference. We feel like if we can make them have to wait longer than they want to wait to have that championship, then it really falls in our favor. That is why I like what our team does. We are very experienced at outwaiting a team. And at critical times we have shown that unbelievable ability to just stare you down and outwait you. Whether it is patient play, strong defensive play, giving up no shots, we have shown a great ability at critical times all year to do that stuff. That is why I like our team's feeling that we have right now, is that we have done that. That is what Vancouver did with the Rangers. They really made them wait a lot longer and it got very nervous at the end.

End of FastScripts…

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