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June 8, 1999

Ken Hitchcock


COACH HITCHCOCK: Well, from our team's standpoint I thought our team played a very, very strong hockey game. You think the one thing that we probably feel like we'd like to have back is we maybe got a little bit in a situation where we tried to protect a little bit in the third period and they came back on us a little bit. But it's awful hard to be critical of our hockey club the way they played tonight. I think we had a lot of good play from a lot of people tonight.

Q. How much does that worry you then to play that well and then lose the hockey game?

COACH HITCHCOCK: Well, I think with as far as -- first of all, we don't really want to allow three goals at home and we did tonight. So there is a couple of things defensively we can do. And as far as their goaltender, if the next game we have got to get 70 to score 3, we will get 70 to score 3. We have to find a way to get it done.

Q. Do you have a sense of -- when you had all those powerplays in the first and second period and didn't score them --

COACH HITCHCOCK: I thought if we could have got that second goal we could have maybe allowed or made them open it up a little bit more, but they were able to hang in there and hang in there and, you know, I thought we went a little bit flat when they scored their first goal and we were in a little bit of shock because I think that we certainly, in the first period and second period, that is probably as sound a hockey game as we have played. And, then, to give up those two quick goals, it was a little bit of a shock. That was a heck of a deflection that second goal by Primeau. Then to come back and then to play as well as we did in the overtime, we played great in the overtime. It was -- you know, that is what happens when you are pressing that hard and you have got that many chances, that many just-abouts, sometimes those things come back and haunt you like that, that goal.

Q. You talked this morning about needing to develop some anger to match Buffalo. They already had that being a seventh seed; your team needed to be angry --

COACH HITCHCOCK: I think the game -- and I have said this before, I just feel like based on the two teams and the way they play, this is just going to be a normal game. I mean, this is the way things are going to be between these two teams, I feel. Both teams play with a lot of passion. Both teams play physical. Both teams put a lot on the line. I think they got their game in here and played well in the third period and got a win. But I still think, from our standpoint, we are probably going to have to play with more desperation. Obviously we are going to have to find some ways to control the tempo of the game for 60 minutes rather than 45 or 50.

Q. You have talked about your team having problems against teams that have an aggressive penalty kill. Is this a team that, in your opinion; has an aggressive penalty kill?

COACH HITCHCOCK: Not really. I think that, you know, the biggest difference in our powerplay was that we didn't score in the quality chances we had. We had two no-brainers to score in the overtime and there was a double deflection there that he got a pad on. I still don't know how he got it on.

Q. How big is a Game 2 win before you go to Buffalo?

COACH HITCHCOCK: I think Game 2 is a game that has a lot of pressure on the home team regardless of what you do in Game 1. And I feel the same for Game 3 when the team -- when the home team goes and place in that game, I think those two games set up the momentum of this series and they -- like I say, there will be some pressure on us in Game 2 and they will be the same type of pressure on them in Game 3.

Q. I just wondered, first of all, I know you have been saying all along that you think Buffalo matches up very well against your club. You have been saying that. Do you think your players believe that more now? I mean, I think you always did. But I am not real sure and I am sure a lot of people aren't real sure after hearing how the Western Conference is so much better?

COACH HITCHCOCK: Our team has been on the right side of winning all year, but barely on the right side. And that is not going to change if we are going to win. We are not going to blow anybody out. We have shown the ability to find ways to win all year. I just -- I felt pretty strongly and I think our players did that, these two teams, mostly based on the 2-1 game in Buffalo, matchup pretty well against each other. They are very strong in the middle. We are strong in the middle. And I just think you can throw the 7th seed out of the window because it -- 82 nights, if Buffalo was healthy they would be a lot higher seed. We were healthy for 90% of the year so that was the gap. But in head-to-head competition, it is pretty close.

Q. What are you thinking, the winning goal folds in front of you; you see Woolley come out....

COACH HITCHCOCK: I know when you get in a situation where there is a soft play down low, and you can see the guy coming through the middle of the ice and there is a lot of room, he scored some goals like that all year, seeing eye-dog; it goes through Eddie's legs, it's funny the chances missed in the other end, they come back to haunt you sometimes. If we score that goal with Nieuwendyk and Verbeek and especially Verbeek on the second one there, it is a different story. But when you get in overtime it is such a crapshoot; you never know what is going to happen.

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