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June 10, 2006

Craig MacTavish


Q. I just wanted to ask you a little bit over last couple of days there's been a lot of talk about the home crowd. What has it meant to you to this point in the playoffs and is there any way to describe what a difference it can make to your team?
COACH CRAIG MACTAVISH: I will attempt to do that. I will attempt to describe it. They have given us a lift when we have needed it and they have been very supportive of us through this playoff run; gave us the energy when we needed it against San Jose, gave us the energy in the third period against Detroit in Game 6 when we were down by a couple.
So it's important. There's no secret, as a player you get energized by the emotion in the building. When so many people are so solidly behind you, you want to make sure that you are playing your best hockey. You get an adrenaline rush from it. We're hoping that that will happen tonight.

Q. I just wanted to ask about adjustments that we might see tonight on the PK or the power play. What different looks will we see tonight on those units?
COACH CRAIG MACTAVISH: See the answer you got for lineup changes, for tactical changes. I don't want to talk about that other than stating the obvious that our special teams have to get better. They have done a good job on our power play to this point and hopefully we can make a few subtle changes and turn the special team game because we're going to need that, obviously, to get the win tonight.
So there are a few things that we think we can do differently. I am sure they have a few tweaks to their game plan here and there, but not as many as what you need when you have lost the first couple of games.

Q. When you decided to go with Jussi you talked about giving him a clean slate. This crowd has been tough on goaltenders after a goal or two or a giving up a soft one. Your expectation of the way the crowd will react tonight to Jussi no matter what happens.
COACH CRAIG MACTAVISH: I think they are going to be very supportive because they know how important it is for the goaltender to have confidence. They know how negatively it affects the goaltender to have the scrutiny of 16,000 people on every handle and every save. We have got a very intelligent, hockey savvy crowd, they are going to be firmly behind Jussi. It's a great story. We just have to write a few more chapters. It will be a great story for Jussi.

Q. Do you think one of the keys to winning the game tonight will be your ability to effectively rattle Cam Ward to get more puck possession?
COACH CRAIG MACTAVISH: I don't know how much we can rattle him. We have got to get some different location to our shots. He's been pretty solid so far mentally for a young goalie and I think a lot of that was derived from the success that he had against Marty Brodeur. That can't help but enhance your confidence level as a goaltender when you go against, from what I have read, was his boyhood idol growing up and, you know, shaking his hand at the end of a five-game series where you have effectively outplayed him.
So his confidence is very high right now. We just have to make sure that we make -- we have to make him work a little harder in some specific areas.

Q. What would you say the two days of practice without a game, what would you say the state of the mental game of your players is?
COACH CRAIG MACTAVISH: The mental state of our players has always been very good, right from the first loss of the playoffs in Detroit. We have been able to bounce back from the disappointment. I'd say you know, the players, you know, for me I've have been fortunate, got a very receptive group. They know that we have to change in a few areas, not a complete overhaul as I have said before, but I am happy with where they are mentally and where their focus is going into the game tonight.

Q. After all the times you have proven the critics wrong by coming up, you know, late in the regular season against Detroit, after those first two games against San Jose, is there still the underestimation of the determination in your locker room?
COACH CRAIG MACTAVISH: I don't know. I don't think we have had all that much criticism really and I mean, I think that it's been very fair, the coverage and the commentary on where we are as a team has been extremely fair, and so we are not us against them mentality by any stretch. Maybe that's a motivation, but I don't view that we have been criticized unfairly.
We have, you know, we have a lot of belief in our ability to get the job done. There's a little apprehension going into the game because we know how critical the game is. We have put ourselves in a situation where we absolutely need this hockey game, I mean, for all intent and purposes. We need to play a complete game emotionally, physically, mentally, special teams, goaltending, we need to play a very complete game tonight and then we get back in the series and tomorrow is a new day. But it's going to be a tough, tough game tonight to win in my estimation and we're going to have to play our best game of the series. I guess that's a cliche but it's very, very true tonight.

End of FastScripts...

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