May 27, 2002
TORONTO, ONTARIO: Practice Day
Q. What was your conversation with Roddy, the focus of that conversation?
COACH MAURICE: Some things I can't say. Nothing out of the ordinary. Just talking about their line and what they do well.
Q. What would you like to see them do better?
COACH MAURICE: Well, they have been very good defensively for us. They have not given up a whole lot. Just that we are trying to generate some offense. Not specific to those guys, but they happened to be right there and I gave them pretty much each the line for practice tomorrow.
Q. Along those lines, is there an awareness with the games as tight as they are of being defensively responsible, and that anybody could be the difference-maker in the whole series?
COACH MAURICE: Sure. It's a good thing that they feel that they are that critical to the game. Each line needs to feel that. Each player needs to feel that when they get on the ice, in each shift that they can be the difference in the series.
Q. Is there a point where you think no shot is a bad shot, as close as you are?
COACH MAURICE: Well, how much more offense can you generate without giving up offense yourself; that's the great question here, and probably both teams are asking it. It's such a low-scoring series and such a tight series, that that's going to be the critical element, when teams can try to generate more without giving up more. The third period of Game 4, I don't think we gave up a whole lot. You just think to generate offense on your power play, that's an area we can improve in, going into last game it was 20 percent, so it's been pretty strong for us.
Q. Did you imagine that five-on-five was going to be this tight?
COACH MAURICE: I hoped it would be.
Q. Why did you hope it would be?
COACH MAURICE: Well, we've got some good shooters up there, and they do, too. When your team is playing well defensively, there's not a lot giving up five-on-five.
Q. Can you gauge the emotion of where your team is at, based on today's practice, any feel of what the guys are feeling?
COACH MAURICE: After a day off, you expect certain things. We just wanted to go over a couple of points, try to set a certain tone that we kind of mapped out yesterday and we are working toward that goal for the game, and it's part of what we are trying to get through over three days.
Q. You said yesterday that you would spend time with the family and then break down game tape. Today we heard you yelling at the top of your lungs, go to the net.
COACH MAURICE: That's pretty standard in practice. I've probably barked that 20,000 times over the course of the year. It wasn't a major change in how we practice. In the playoffs, practices get a little quieter, I think. You're not looking for guys to get a workday in. Rarely where will you practice two days in a row in the playoffs. Mostly what you want to get done is get their legs back into it and leave them on the ice feeling a certain way, whatever way it is that you decide that you want them feeling. And that's going to the net and putting pucks there, so I think we did a little bit better job of that.
Q. Would you be surprised if they are nervous or uptight tomorrow night?
COACH MAURICE: There will be some nerves there for both teams, sure. It's not a bad thing. If you come out nervous and a little uptight, there's always a place to go. You'll relax and get into it. You encourage that more than coming out too relaxed, that's for sure.
Q. Can you talk about the balance of playing your system versus playing at a high level?
COACH MAURICE: When you're playing well, you should be able to do both: Play at a very, very high level and play within your game. We've done that pretty consistently for the last few months. I think we have done a pretty good job of that. But gears change in the playoffs. In every series, there's a point where the gears change and I think we are at that point now.
Q. Erik Cole has gotten a lot of contact with Gary Roberts in this series, how do you feel about that?
COACH MAURICE: Pretty good. If you take a look at his hits at the end of the game, you'll find he's making at least as much contact the other way. That's what you look for four-on-four; if he's getting banged, how much is he giving back. He's been able to do that.
Q. You said this series is different from any other series that you've had so far in this playoff run, but Game 6 in New Jersey, an awesome game. Game 6 in Montreal you took control. Game 6 in Toronto, that has to be in the back of your minds, the success?
COACH MAURICE: We've been good enough on the road that you don't go into the game thinking, geez, we have not played well on the road all year. The difference is in those two earlier situations, we also won Game 5. So there's a little different mood going into that game, and you have to be aware of that, as well. But we'll keep that even keel until game time. We're not going to hold a lot of team meetings, discussing all of the different variables and emotional stability of both teams. We are far into that now.
Q. Playing against Curtis Joseph, some people say he has a different style than some of the other people around the league; that he doesn't have a style and you never know what he's going to do on a given play. Can you discuss the differences between him and other goaltenders you've played in the playoffs?
COACH MAURICE: All three have a little different look and the exact same effectiveness. They all do the same thing, which is they stop the puck so very well. We are probably getting more similar chances in the Toronto series than we got against Brodeur, not quite as many, more in tight stuff, not a lot of the motion stuff coming out of the neutral zone. But when you look at the list of guys that potentially we were going to face, regardless, facing a hot goaltender now is something that's expected every night.
Q. Do you think that's given your team some confidence, that they have been able to break through and have some success against such top-notch goalies?
COACH MAURICE: Well, it's not like we've had two series where you faced average goaltending and then faced Joseph and you say: What are we going to do now. We've faced two real good goaltenders and we have another one in front of us, and so you don't have to spend a lot of time talking about the mentality of how you're going to try to generate offense. That's the big fear against Brodeur and against Theodore and against Joseph is that you get that mentality that the shot you're going to take is not going to beat them so you don't take it. I think in the Montreal series we cannot end up changing our offensive style and that's something that we are watching now to make sure that we keep putting the simple shots at the net.
Q. The BBC line, have they been good, average?
COACH MAURICE: They have had some good chances. We talked at the start of the series that this series is not going to look like the Montreal series. It looked a lot more like New Jersey. They have not quite as many chances as they got in the last series, but at the same time, they have still gotten some real good ones.
Q. Is the focus more on the power plays, the rebounds?
COACH MAURICE: It has. It's been real important for us. I don't think that you feel the same -- you don't feel the same concern with your power play on the road as you do at home. At home when you don't score, a little more frustration keeps in and I think that sometimes slows your power play down a little bit. But, yeah, we have confidence in it.
Q. At this time of year, you seem to save the concern for game time, without too many team meetings.
COACH MAURICE: Well, I'm not going to tell you all of the things we are worrying about because that's part of our game plan. I don't know what's the exact number is ..82, 88, 104, 105. We've played a lot of games. It's not like you change everything every ten games or something and you have to rehash it. We are where we are because we've been effective doing certain things, and in this series, we have been effective doing them more times than we haven't.
End of FastScripts...