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June 5, 2006

Craig MacTavish


Q. Can you talk about the job that Chris Pronger has done consistently in front of the net just clearing bodies out and the presence that he is right in that area.
COACH CRAIG MACTAVISH: Yeah, you can't say enough about the way he's playing, not just in front of our net but just his overall game. He's a top player at the very top of his game right now, and he controls -- as we said when we got him, there's nothing that he can't do. You know, he's an integral part of our power play, our penalty kill, the last minute of the game when we're down a goal, the last minute of a game when we're up a goal; he's a very complete player, playing very well right now.
Q. How tough is it to prepare for a player like Eric Staal that a lot of you guys haven't seen before?
COACH CRAIG MACTAVISH: Well, the thing about today's game is that there are no secrets. The video travels and we see him play lots, even during the regular season, we're all curious as to just how good of a player he is, and certainly we have seen him lots on video. We've had Jeff Ward at the last series scouting for us.
So I think it would be very hard to keep any secrets from either of the coaching staffs going into this series based on the amount of availability, the information. We have a pretty good sense of how good he is and where his areas of strengths are.
Q. You talked a little bit the other day about Cam Ward being surprised to see a young goaltender who has been this good this quick, can you just expand on that and talk a little bit about what you see when you look at the footage of him.
COACH CRAIG MACTAVISH: Well, we have the -- I don't know whether it's the luxury, but our goaltender coach is the president of the Cam Ward Fan Club. Because Pete Peeters played with Cam in Red Deer, as those of us from Alberta know. So Pete has seen Cam lots. He is not the least bit surprised with the progress that he's made this year.
You know, the one thing that he's pointed out all along is how mentally tough this guy is and how unflappable he is. When you go into a series against your boyhood idol, Martin Brodeur, and win that series, I think it would be unrealistic for us to think that he's going to be -- his confidence is going to waiver under the pressure of the Finals. I don't anticipate that. I think he's going to play very well for them.
Q. Still with Cam Ward, he showed a tremendous poise for a young guy in the playoff run, but you guys have had a very good track record throughout the playoffs of kind of rattling the opposition's goalie, do you think you can do that against this guy, and how important is that to kind of establish that early?
COACH CRAIG MACTAVISH: No, I don't think we can. We don't anticipate that he's going to come unraveled for sure. Our game plan in this series is the same as it's been in every other series, and we want to see both goaltenders. It's normally a sign that things are going wrong for your opponent, which is always a good sign. We'd like to see Gerber at some point in the series, and we're going to do what we've done the last three series; we'll try and get pucks to the net, and everyone knows that playoff goals are not always the prettiest goals, and you want to get pucks in traffic to the net, but within the confines of the rules.
I think we've been walking that line very effectively through the course of the first three series, getting to areas where we can get rebounds, but not getting penalized by getting a bunch of unnecessary goaltender interference penalties, and that will be very important this series, as well. We want to get into the sight line but we don't want to interfere with them. The referees have done a real good job distinguishing between the two.
Q. You said it's no secret that Montreal and New Jersey and Buffalo really didn't take it to Carolina's defense, will we see the team that weathers the storm, in the first ten minutes after the layoff, or will you be the physical team that you were in the games against San Jose?
COACH CRAIG MACTAVISH: I wish I had my crystal ball, but that's a question I'm waiting to have answered tonight. Certainly I feel like we're ready to take it to them. You never know what the effects of the layoff are going to be.
As Kevin Lowe said the other day, you push the rewind button and our game plan is going to try to put a great deal of pressure on their defense. Our team has always been a team -- we're better off the rush now than we have been in the past, but we've always been very good at creating offense but putting pressure on the opposition's defense and that will be a very integral, important part of our game plan tonight. I'll be interested to see how we come through the layoff.
Q. Can you contrast your preparation as a player when you're going into the first game of a Stanley Cup Final to what you have to do as a coach? Obviously now you have to manage your team, sort of nervous energy and that sort of thing.
COACH CRAIG MACTAVISH: Yeah, you feel -- as a player, I guess the easiest way to describe the difference for me is as a player I really felt I was responsible for my own play, my own intensity, knowing the game plan, know the areas that I had to be on the ice. As a coach, you feel responsible for everybody.
You know, we've had enough time. It really worked to our favor during the Detroit series where we had the time to prepare after the last game, so we've had a considerable amount of time to prepare. I think we're -- you know, I feel like we're well prepared and ready to go, and that would be the difference.
Q. Three people on your coaching staff that came from the NHL, very different kind of players, and can bring those attributes to the players, can you speak about what attracted you to Bill Moores and his role. I saw him do quite a bit of detail work in practice.
COACH CRAIG MACTAVISH: Billy is one of the few guys in the game that can speak to anybody at any level in the game of hockey and he can present it in a fashion that can make sense to them.
He can go into a pee-wee team and speak to them in a fashion because of his experience, they are very capable of understanding it. He can teach coaches, the highest-level coaches, seminars, he can teach them the intricacies of the game, as well. He's a wealth of information, and I'm glad you mentioned his name, I couldn't be happier for him in this situation, and certainly a guy that's paid his dues.
He has the utmost respect from the players and very knowledgeable guy and very important member of the coaching staff.
Q. The penalty kill has obviously been pretty good, but do you feel like you need to cut back on the number of times that you find yourself short-handed in the box?
COACH CRAIG MACTAVISH: Well, absolutely. We've taken a lot of penalties the last number of games and a lot of bad penalties, a lot of too many men on the ice and we're not going to get away with that in the series and we've talked about that. We have to be better and more disciplined in that area. We've got a very healthy respect for their power play. You have to, any time a power play is operating at 26 percent, you know, you're going to pay a price if you're taking bad penalties. You may get away with one or two of them but you're not going to get away with taking nine or ten or 11 penalties during the course of a game, or you're going to be hurt very badly. And our penalty killing has been good, but, you know, this power play, these two units, are going to pose significant challenges for us, as they have for the three previous teams that they have eliminated.
Q. You know a guy like Mark Recchi from your days as a player --
COACH CRAIG MACTAVISH: I played with him in Philly for a bit.
Q. What in your mind does he brings to this Hurricanes team, the addition of him and Weight, but specifically Mark, at this point in his career and his experience and his abilities at this point?
COACH CRAIG MACTAVISH: Yeah, his experience I think is probably the main -- one of the main things that he brings, having won a Stanley Cup himself in Pittsburgh. He's still got a considerable game. He's playing very well right now. So he's a handful down low, and he's playing -- he's always been a gritty player, and maybe that's the least-known aspect of his game.
He's going to have a certain hunger for sure. He's been there and he knows what it's like and doesn't want to let this opportunity slip away. They have a few guys, as you mentioned, Doug Weight in that category as well, where a trip to the Finals is not something that's going to go underappreciated by them, and they are going to be very motivated, and that's a tough combination.
Q. Lineup changes for tonight, do you --
COACH CRAIG MACTAVISH: I don't normally talk about that, no. I didn't answer it before. (Laughter).
Thank you.

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