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June 5, 2000

Ken Hitchcock


Q. You talked about not looking to have that extra day off. After a loss with the extra day facing you 3-1 deficit, how do you counter that? What will you try and tell your guys the next couple of days?

COACH HITCHCOCK: I think for whatever reason, if we can play 60 minutes like we played the first 40, we give ourselves real opportunity. I thought the first 40 minutes we played today were outstanding; but, you know, they turned a 2-on-1, their first goal we had 3 great shifts to start the third period, and we were going on a 2-on-1, and the next thing you know, it is in our net. (inaudible) made a light puck with the net, crossed the blue line, beat us back up the ice, and we got caught on a pinch on a powerplay that, you know, Daneyko made a great play on -- great play to -- beat us off the wall, and Madden scored. I thought Carbonneau's line did a great job against Arnott's line, but they just seemed to be able to get the right goals at the right time. They got goals from people today who really haven't scored in the series, and they, you know, Brylin scored, Madden scored, Rafalski scored. We haven't been able to get that second wave of scoring. I don't think you are going to win many games against this team scoring one goal.

Q. Are you stunned going to third period to have (inaudible) going six minutes like that?

COACH HITCHCOCK: Yeah, I feel like they got a great team -- I am not taking anything away from them but we got our heart ripped out from us a little bit today. We went from quite a high to quite a low. I thought just -- like I said before, when you play as well as we did for 40 minutes, I thought the second period of hockey was about as gritty and intensive period as you are going to see in any Playoff game by both teams. Both teams were fighting for their lives in that period. I thought we held up pretty well. Then to come and give it away that quickly, you know, they made two or three good plays there. I think the thing that has dominated, quite frankly, is their ability to defend is better than ours right now and they have turned those defending situations into offensive opportunities. I think they have been just better from that area and that is what has turned the offense that way. If you look at all three goals they scored today, they were all made off of terrific defensive plays. They weren't made off of, you know, great offensive plays. They just -- three defensemen made unbelievable plays as far as defending goes and turned it into offensive opportunities.

Q. Is there a specific reason for this? Are they beating you with their younger legs?

COACH HITCHCOCK: No, don't even go there. We are not tired and we are not worn out. We are getting beat by a hell of a hockey club right now. We are down 3-1 to a hell of a hockey club. I think the quality that they have when you have mobility to defend like they do with size, you are going to have a difficult time getting through to areas and they have that whole right side that starts everything up and the left side of that defense knows that the right side is to get the puck and they are able to beat forechecking; able to carry it out of their zone. We would love -- any team would love to have the ability to be able to lug the puck out of your zone; that is exactly what they did.

Q. You tied the series up in New Jersey; you come home, you have a 9 and 1 record. You can't think they are going to beat two games off you in here; is that tough to swallow right now?

COACH HITCHCOCK: I don't know, I am not even thinking that -- I mean, we are down 3-1. Obviously the momentum is on their side. We have got two days to recoup to get healthy. I really felt if we could have got this game with the two days off, our guys that were a little banged up could have really bought us some time and that is what, to me, is really disappointing is the fact that we could have really bought us some valuable time; that would have really helped us, but they got the momentum going right now.

Q. It's very dramatic to say you had your heart ripped out. Are you talking within this game? It sounds like it would be very tough to get over that.

COACH HITCHCOCK: Oh, I don't think -- no, I mean in the game, Al, not in the series. We have got a great ability to recover and move on. I mean, you go from such a level of confidence and then all of a sudden, boom, you get hit so hard and that is the story of their team. They have done it all Playoffs. They have been able to just be quick-strike (sic). The difficult part for us is that we had key components -- (inaudible) other components beat us today. So kudos to them. They needed performances from other people because their go-tos weren't getting the job done and they got it done. And in other series and in other times we have been able to do that. That is the fine line, but you know, until they scored that second goal this was -- especially the first 40 minutes were just, to me, two of the best periods of hockey that I coached this year.

Q. You said it was defensive play on their part on each of the three goals. Would you say there is any similar characteristic on your team's part that led to those three goals? Any defining trend that was going on there on your team's part?

COACH HITCHCOCK: I think on the two goals the second and third goal; not so much the second and third goal, but the three chances they had Madden had two chances and they just -- no, those three areas they beat us to competitive areas, in areas that were loaded up for confrontation. Any time you are on the powerplay and you are pinching, you are really expecting the puck to get stopped there. You are banking on it and like I said, Daneyko not only did he clear the puck, but he made a direct play which is -- he made a helluva play. He got there quick, he beat our pinching defensemen down and made a hell of a play.

End of FastScripts…

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