June 17, 1999
DALLAS, TEXAS: Game Five
Q. Mike, what was the nature of this phone call from Hitch last night? Can you just describe it in a little detail?
MIKE MODANO: Well, we had a lot of chats throughout the time he has been here and we have been together. He just, plain and simple, asked me what type of player I was going to be tonight. I told him I was going to be a player that is very involved in every aspect of the game. I felt I got away a little bit from that in Game 4 and really wanted to mentally be a little stronger, the hands been coming around; everything has been starting to feel good and feel strong in some areas that I didn't maybe in a couple of games ago.
Q. But in the last couple of games you have had to deal with losing Hull off your line, Hrkac was on -- now Verbeek today. You have had to make some adjustments too and it seems like today you were just -- you just were all over the place.
MIKE MODANO: Well, you know, Patty and I have played together before in the past and I think we are very effective when we get down low and we are able to hold onto the puck and make some plays; lug it a little bit; force them to play one-on-one and we are a little bit quicker to the net tonight sometimes. But Patty is real solid on the wing and this type of game you need that, very dependable, very strong on the boards in our zone getting the puck out, so you feel very confident that you can play the puck up his side all game.
Q. Pat, wondering given Hasek's reputation for stoning players on a one-on-one situation like you were, what was going through your mind as you went in on him and what were you thinking?
PAT VERBEEK: Well, I was coming in wide and, you know, the goalie really has to push -- he has to push over quickly to get -- if you realize that there are shots going to come right away, and what I did, I just tried to freeze him and he was really caught pushing off his right leg, going left, and I was able to deke him, you know, to my back hand and get it up and over his pad. Just enough for it to go in the net.
Q. Mike, can you talk about the pass to Darryl?
MIKE MODANO: Everything seemed to open up real quick, starting from Zubov in our zone. Sergei made a great pass to me, with Patty and Jere going to the net kind of opened up a little pocket there. Once I stopped and pulled up everybody, their defenders kind of stopped and kind of maybe was anticipating the pass back to the point and Darryl kind of snuck through and found a lane and it was a fabulous shot. He had about just as much room as the size of the puck to put it in there. He made a fabulous shot. But early in the period, we had some fresh ice to make those type of plays early in the period.
Q. Pat, talk about coming back to the Playoffs this year, missing the first series; not being sure if you were going to get in the lineup, minutes, how much does a game like tonight mean to you now?
PAT VERBEEK: I know when I was injured, three games left in the season and I was depressed. I was -- literally, I wasn't feeling very good. I didn't think I was going to get to play in the Playoffs and I didn't know how long the injury would take. It is really the first time I have ever had a knee injury like that and certainly when I got my chance in the next round with St. Louis I felt very comfortable and I was excited to play and tonight playing in this game and in front of our fans and with the intensity that both teams were really throwing out on the ice, it is great to be an athlete. I mean, it is just tremendous to be a hockey player and I really am enjoying myself right now. It is just doesn't get any better than this. It is just fun to be an athlete and be able to play in front of a crowd like we did tonight.
Q. What about getting called at home by the coach, ever tempted to change your number or anything and how do you see that?
MIKE MODANO: He always has my number. He has got every number I think I have, so, he tracks me down whereever I am at. He wanted to talk to me earlier that day and at the rink and I was really kind of in not a very approachable mood that morning so he waited for that evening.
Q. Mike, your coach described his relationship with you as being close. What word would you use to describe your relationship with him?
MIKE MODANO: Well, we are -- we kind of -- our relationship has gotten a lot better, I think, over the last couple of years. From the first time we sat down and talked when he came, to last night, just a lot of trust in each other. I think the responsibility he has given me and forced me into and just kind of threw me out there with some guys and to turn us into checkers. And the first thing he said to me when he came here, you got to work hard offensively. That kind of went 180 what I was thinking. But we are -- our communication line is very open and, you know, he has a lot of great thoughts and opinions on a lot of things; not just hockey, just things away from the game as well. But he is smart with what he sees in me as a player. I have played against him in juniors back when he was in Canada, he was with Kalamazoo for a while when I was with Minnesota and Dallas, so he seen me play a lot of hockey.
Q. Did you guys talk after the second period tonight about not trying to -- the lead; protect it too much, I know after Game 1 a lot of you talked about you felt like you fell into a mode of sitting on the lead --
MIKE MODANO: We discussed a lot of things, I think. One was really keeping our shifts short with a lot of energy in each shift, definitely having one guy high and the two guys -- force the guys down low and keep forcing them to go 200 feet. I think that is really what the backbone of our team is - tracking hard, backchecking, fourth and five guys coming back hard to cover the defenseman; the blue lines are real important areas to our team, getting it out in our zone and getting it in in theirs. We keep those four, five things addressed every game and in the periods, and grant it, this is the type of series you are forced to win games 1-0 if you have to do it.
Q. Mike, just one question. The play you made on Zhitnik that led to the second goal, when it started the play, how satisfying is it for you to do things that are not scoring goals; not making the nice pass, but a little thing like that in that a lot of times, in your game, gets overlooked; how satisfying is it when it leads to a goal?
MIKE MODANO: I guess I have got a lot of thrill out of that type of hockey lately last couple of years; changing my game a little bit, being a player that likes playing defense, likes being out there the last couple of minutes of periods in games and forced into those situations. It is a great responsibility and when you are able to do that I think you feel better about your game personally and you feel better when you leave the rink knowing that you are not just out there to create things offensively; you have got a lot of other responsibilites to do. I was able to get check the puck away first; then able to kick it out to Matvichuk and he made a great pass to Patty and Patty made a great move.
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