June 12, 1999
BUFFALO, NEW YORK: Game Three
Q. What is the status of Brett Hull?
KEN HITCHCOCK: He has a pulled groin and he is day-to-day. This is the same injury that we have had twice this year. And we really don't know -- the first time we had it, he was right back 24 hours later. Next time it was about seven days before it came back again. So we are not really sure right now. We can probably give you a better evaluation in a day or so. But if we had to play tomorrow, he wouldn't be a player.
Q. How do you feel in terms of how your team is accommodating missing people from the lineup or someone being injured or, you know --
KEN HITCHCOCK: I am very proud of my team. I mean, I don't think that goes out saying. We have Marshall who is an impact player, Hogue who has been a great player since he came from Tampa and obviously if Hull can't play, that is going to be tough, like I said, we have got some good people sitting in the wings. Jon Sim, Aaron Gavey, these people have been with us, there is a lot of confidence. I think if Hull couldn't go, we would probably flip Sydor and Lukowich and probably Sydor would play as a forward because of his speed and tenacity.
Q. What kind of a lift did you get out of Modano?
KEN HITCHCOCK: I don't think it was a lift. I just think everybody expected him to play. I don't think it was a necessary lift. I think when the diagnosis came back that it was not broken, there was no break there, I think everybody felt that even if he played with 50 or 60% usage there, that he would still be an effective player for us and we did some different things with him. We really turned him loose. We had some fun out there tonight.
Q. Nobody got a tangible -- (inaudible) --
KEN HITCHCOCK: Seriously, I just -- because we expect him to play. We just expected him to play and I guess if it would have been maybe a game-time decision, but we really knew boarding the airplane yesterday that he was a player.
Q. Can you say a couple of words about the penalty killing; especially during that 5-on-3?
KEN HITCHCOCK: I think that really -- that was the difference for us. That gave us so much energy because last game we lost a little bit of confidence. We have been great all Playoffs, but when we killed those penalties in the first period our team was really energized and really excited. We really felt that that was just so much confidence for us to be able to kill those.
Q. What was the contraption or the cast like that Modano wore on his hand?
KEN HITCHCOCK: Kind of like a bowler's thing. It holds the fingers and the wrist in place but it has flexibility that he can do a number of things. He was pretty good out there. He struggled a little bit on one side on the faceoffs and that is where we had to use Skrudland there a little bit. Other than that, he was fine. Felt pretty good.
Q. What is it made of?
KEN HITCHCOCK: It is kind of a hard rubber thing, but it has a hinge here and I don't know looks like he can go on the PBA Tour with it.
Q. Can you talk about both the quality of Joe Nieuwendyk's goal and a little bit about his personal journey. I think he went ten years after the court just to get out of the first round, talk about that.
KEN HITCHCOCK: I just remember the first time we played Edmonton two years ago and to show you where players go mentally, Newey came to us and he said how much he hated Game 7s and here we were playing Edmonton in Game 7. Because of his experience with Calgary and losing those for such an extended period of time, he was just distraught going to a Game 7. Now he just doesn't want the season to end and I think that if Hull can't go, then Newey is going to have to step up and carry us like he did tonight.
Q. Talk about the quality of the two goals --
KEN HITCHCOCK: To me, the first goal was just hard work by three guys, unbelievable hard work. But that second goal, that is a goal scorer's goal. There is a lot of people that put the puck in that position all year, all season, all game and never make that play. That is a goal-scorer's goal.
Q. Can you talk about the play of your defense and overall your team's ability to deny Sabre's chances?
KEN HITCHCOCK: Our feeling playing defense today was that we have got two days off and we are really looking forward to these two days off because it is going to even give us more energy and we really wanted to just blow everything out defensively that we could, blocking shots going down on whatever we could knowing that we had two days rest here to get ready for the next game and I think we just -- we knew that when Hull went down that we weren't going to get many offensive opportunities with the way Hasek was playing, but I just think that we played defense with so much passion, but I think another area was that we got two days to rest here so we just blew it out.
KEN HITCHCOCK: The Game 3 in Colorado was the best we played until tonight. I thought 5-on-5 were outstanding tonight.
Q. What was going through your mind when you took the string of penalties? Opposite of what happened in Game 1 you had your best player taking many of them. Did you think -- were you -- was it the officiating ....
KEN HITCHCOCK: Penalties were deserved. I thought the only one that really upset was the penalty at the end with Hrkac, that was something that we probably disagreed with. But I think our bench was so emotional today. We just -- we knew how much this game meant and the pressure that was on Buffalo the first game back home, their record and everything, we were a little bit emotional and some of the penalties were too emotional. In the third period we just had to get to calm down a little bit, but it was tough in the first two because we felt like, you know, like we were reacting to what they were doing to us rather than doing some of the action stuff that we did the first two games.
Q. Ken, can you talk about what Joe has done since the start of the Playoffs, he has been a horse most of the way?
KEN HITCHCOCK: Yeah, what he has done, he has played a little bit like he is on a mission. I think he has recognized that he really felt a lot of pressure in the first round psychologically trying to get through it, the injury situation. And I thought I played pretty well against Edmonton. What he has done now he is just relaxed and having fun. I think that whole line is like that right now. That line is playing pretty well. We have had to -- it was very good with Hogue there and Reid has offered a different element. Hogue added that speed element, but Reid offered a gritty, grindy and they compliment each other.
Q. I thought Guy Carbonneau was terrific tonight, 39 years old, I mean, every time you looked he was out on the ice. Can you comment about his game?
KEN HITCHCOCK: It is funny because people are talking about the age of our hockey club and I view the age of your heart and he just -- he really believes in his heart and in his head that he is the best player on the ice. That is what carried him for his whole career. He wants the challenge of playing against the other team's best player. He wants the challenge of being the go-to-guy all the time and to him age is irrelevant. I think that he has such fierce pride. He is a lot like Skrudland. Brian Skrudland was outstanding for us today and their fierce pride carries them. I think that is why when you judge people by their age in this League you have got to look further than that. Age is nothing. It is the age of your heart.
End of FastScripts....