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June 16, 2006
EDMONTON, ALBERTA: Practice Day
Q. What impressed you the most about Jussi Markkanen? What do you think has prepared him for what he's going through right now?
RYAN SMYTH: I think the big thing with Jussi is he's really calm and composed in there, and he just takes this as another game. He's found his game and he's really rising to another level right now. Hopefully he can continue that right now.
Q. Confidence level right now of the team? Michael Peca was saying to me it's probably the highest it has been in a long time because of that win the other night.
RYAN SMYTH: Yeah. Obviously, the adrenaline from Game 5 there, obviously O.T. winner, shorthanded. And, yeah, the guys are on a high right now. We want to ride that, no question. We know it's not going to be an easy task.
We're back here at home. We want to make sure we get the fans going, get them excited, play the hockey that we're capable of playing.
Q. Do you feel the team can play better than what you have done so far?
RYAN SMYTH: I thought last game we really -- everybody stepped up their game. And we really played together as a whole group. And if we can continue that, then that's the game we would like to duplicate.
But there's always room for improvement. I think that's the best thing about -- from game to game you can improve and you can get better, and obviously want to take all the positives out of the last game.
Q. Second time in this series you have a home game where you can tie the series,?
RYAN SMYTH: It's a do-or-die situation. We're still -- our back is up against the wall. We have got to make sure that we play the way we're capable of playing. Like I said, it's not an easy task. These guys have played us well and they won in here the last time that they were here.
They are going to try to thrive off of that kind of stuff. We know that some of their guys are banged up. We want to continue being relentless. When those things happen, it can give us another chance.
Q. Two parter: Is your shot harder than Dwayne Roloson's? And what did it means to the team to have him skating out there in practice?
RYAN SMYTH: It was nice to see him back out there on the ice. No, my shot is harder, and I will stick with that to my grave.
We like to see, obviously, guys that have been a huge part be around and be a part of the team. He's a big part of our team. He's helped out all the way through since he's been out. He's contributed that way, whatever he can. I know it's hard for him because he's on the outside looking in, but he's a still a big part of it though.
Q. Considering the way you guys won on Wednesday and the fact they are dinged up, would you rather be playing tonight?
RYAN SMYTH: Obviously, that would be great if we could, but it's the way the schedule rolls. We know that a few guys were banged up a bit.
And, yeah, I mean the best thing is you want to ride the emotion, carry over the positives, and continue in right away. But that's the way the schedule is.
Q. Do you feel that the 'Canes are getting tired and maybe the way they respond to your checking and your forechecking?
RYAN SMYTH: Well, I don't think any team at this stage of the game should be tired. The fact that they are running on adrenaline maybe is another thing. You want to wear teams down, no question. You are feeding off of the emotion, the different angles that you can to get to the Stanley Cup and the ultimate dream.
I think that the big thing is that we know they are a little bit older than us, and if we can continue to be relentless then great.
Q. Along that same line, do you feel like with some of the injury situation with them that that's working, that you are wearing them down somewhat?
RYAN SMYTH: Well, it doesn't hurt us. And I think the big thing is that those are pretty key players that got hit and got hurt. But, hey, that's what teams are all about. I know they are rallying around those kind of things. I know we did that with the flu against Anaheim, and we found a way through it. Hopefully we can continue breaking them down.
Q. Have you added up how much actual hockey you have played this year, how many actual games? I am sure you play best of 22 to win the Cup and whatever it takes, of course. But how many wins are you on now, third wind, fourth wind?
RYAN SMYTH: Yeah, it's a long season, no question. I was fortunate to be a part of the Olympics and play a few more games over there, you know, the travel, this and that.
And then being in the Stanley Cup finals, this is -- you are running on whatever window it is. And the adrenaline and the excitement of your teammates, we all boost each other.
When the going gets tough you have got to find a way out of it. We have really thrived off of each other that way, and I think it's important that we continue that here in game 6.
Q. About 116 games, what you think it is?
RYAN SMYTH: I have no idea. Maybe pretty close to that, over 100. Probably close to that.
Q. The offensive tack off that starts in the offensive zone. I know you guys got Tarnstrom and Spacek late in the season. Right now You guys look seamless with that. Can you go back to when they first joined the team and tell me how it was integrated? Do you use video, conversations, threats, what?
RYAN SMYTH: Both of them?
Q. Yes, both of them.
RYAN SMYTH: We played Chicago I think it is three or four or five times. Anyways with Spacek being there, they got a chance to see him and Spacek's representing his country very well overseas, he's done a great job in that area. To me I think he's like a Canadian, he's relentless, plays physical, plays hard and never quits on the puck. Dicky Tarnstrom, he's very skilled defensemen, still reliable in his own zone and he's well recognized for the power play. And they have really worked out well for us and they contribute offensively and definitely and they are not afraid to get in there and get their nose dirty, down low, in their own zone, getting in there first. Those sort of things go along ways for teammates, that's for sure?
Q. Regardless of what wind you are running on right now, statistically speaking you have been held in check fairly well during the series with just the one goal. You got the legs left to maybe get another big one in this next game or the next two if there's that many, watching the score sheet that closely on a personal front?
RYAN SMYTH: Well, you obviously want to contribute, whether it's offensively or keeping them off the score sheet. Obviously I am recognized as a goal scorer and yeah, I'd love to contribute more in that area, but we're getting the wins. We're getting ourselves back into the series, and you know, I think we're feeding off each other that way. It's nice to see everybody contributing offensively; obviously guys like Peca, Pisani, you know, those sort of things go along ways in the team play. Yeah, I'd love to step up and get another big goal here and there, but if it's so be it that I am minus two and we win the game, then that's fine too?
Q. Can you talk about you had an elimination game in Carolina. What is the difference elimination game there and here and talk about being one win away from being from one win away?
RYAN SMYTH I think the difference being there than it is here is that we have got our fans going and hopefully we can ride with them and they can really feed off our energy that way and we can feed off of them too.
As far as being one win away, this is of a childhood dream as a team in there, it's just awesome feeling, it's a chance of a lifetime. Few and far between to get back to a place like this. I mean, motivation factor isn't huge in that area. As far as -- that's self-explanatory. That's obviously going to be no-brainer to get up for a game like that, but we're really excited. We're really looking forward to the challenge and we don't want to look past game 6?
Q. How did or does do the Oilers view did you go wait as a part of the Carolina team; if he isn't able to go Saturday, how much of a loss could that be for that team?
RYAN SMYTH well, Dougie is a huge part of the power play and controls it really well. He's well respected. He has got great leadership on and off the ice and he's going to be a huge hole that they miss. Like I said before, they have got guys that can probably step in and contribute maybe not the same way he can, but give some kind of life because it's drawn out so long now.
Q. Chris, we were just talk being Matt Green he talked about being in the penalty box for a couple of goals against in that last game and he talked about the feeling of sitting in that box when they scored. He compared it to having a childhood cat that died. Can you talk about what that's like, but also the way that he rebounded from that situation a tough -- he was devastated?
CHRIS PRONGER: Absolutely it is a tough situation, obviously knowing our plight and our situation, you know, we lose we're done and as a young kid coming in the league it's a lot to throw on somebody's shoulders. Certainly the way he responded after the two penalties and obviously them getting the two goals, he stuck with it and continued to play hard and play well. He's obviously a guy we need to play physical and play the way he's been playing throughout these Playoffs for us to be successful.
Q. Chris, your coach made a joke yesterday about your ice time saying pretty much that if it's not over 30 minutes a game that he's going to give Charlie a hard time. It's funny to joke about it but what is it like to play 30 minutes a game and?
CHRIS PRONGER: I am exhausted I can't even answer your question I am too tired. (Laughter) actually you know what many could go into the year I actually talked to make about ice time and things like that, and when I was in St. Louis we always talked about trying to cut back ice time and when I got here he said there will be no cutting back we're going to play you and play a lot, so it's something that you train all summer for it and continue to train during the season knowing that you are going to play those minutes and knowing you got to keep your strength and stamina up. It's a matter of picking and choosing your spots and when to jump into the play and when to conserve energy and just by playing smart sound positional hockey you don't have to exert a lot of energy and waste it chasing guys out there.
Q. You have obviously had a we will publicized career the famous comments that Keenan made to you the year that you have where you win the Heart and whatnot. There were the injuries at the end of your tenure in St. Louis. This is the furthest you have ever been two wins away from the Cup. What has this ride been like for you?
CHRIS PRONGER: Well, it's been nice. Obviously as you said we're still two wins away and you know, it will be pretty disappointing if we don't win Saturday. I don't think anybody in the locker room is looking passed that. We have got to win tomorrow and get to a game 7. To even talk about what it's been like up until this point is useless because we're still fighting for our lives.
Q. I know there's all the motivation in the world in that dressing room already to get this done. When you see the bulletin board material like a magazine cover with the other team winning the Cup, is that just whatever from the guys or do you file it away and it's a we'll show you kind of thing added to the pile?
CHRIS PRONGER: Where is that? I haven't seen it. I don't know what you are talking about. Next.
Q. What's the difference between an elimination game at home as opposed to the one you just had and can you just talk how this team is one win away from being one win away?
CHRIS PRONGER: I don't think it's any difference. Obviously we got last line change and the crowd behind you all the rest of that. We still got to go out and play the same style of game that we played in game 5. We can't get over hyped or overexcited because we're at home, you know, looking too far ahead. We have got to worry about that shift and that period that game and all the rest of the cliches you can throw out. But we can't get too far ahead of ourselves and get too excited because the building I am sure will be fired up and ready to roll and we have got to come out with that same desire and determination that we did in game 5 to make sure that we're getting back to Carolina.
One win away, that's exactly the quote one win away from being one win away. You have got to get that one win before you can get the other one.
Q. Have you had a chance to talk with before the series or any time during series some of your former Blues in this series?
CHRIS PRONGER: No, I cut the cord, bud. Nope. (Laughter).
Q. Almost every stat when you are talking about Jussi is that it's been a while since he's done this. It's been a while since he's done that. Based on all that what is impressed you the most with Jussi?
CHRIS PRONGER: I think just how sharp he is handling the puck and seeing the puck. As I have said all along I, think it's a credit to the way he's prepared himself, you know. We all know you are one injury away from going in, and they have certainly worked hard in practice and tried to stay as sharp as they could.
It's a tough situation rotating the two goalies at one end when Roli is out in practice. It's not easy situation to be in for sure, but they both handled it with a lot of class and certainly gained a lot.
If they didn't already have a respect they certainly gained it with the way they handled themselves, because it was a tough situation for them to be in and they did a fantastic job with it.
Q. Earlier, I think it was Game 4, MacT said we hope physically a bunch of body blows that will eventually lead to a knock out. There were some guys knocked out of the game in Game 5. Do you feel physically you are starting to see rewards for the way you guys approached Carolina?
CHRIS PRONGER: Well, they are still up 3-2, and we are one loss away from being done. We have got to continue to have that mindset of playing physical and try to stay out of the box as much as we can.
But continue to play that physical style of hockey, get the pucks in deep, and make sure they are paying a price every time they go back and touch the puck. Until we are able to win, it's all forethought. You have got to continue to stay the course and play the situation and stick with the game plan and make sure that, as Mac said, you continue with the body blows and try to wear them down.
But we have got to go out and win Game 6 before we can start talking about the next step.
Q. Because of the way you guys won on Wednesday and because you banged them up pretty good, would you rather be playing tonight than tomorrow?
CHRIS PRONGER: I don't think it, you know, matters. We have had a pretty funny schedule all the way through with eight days off and two days in between Games 2 and 3. So I think everybody has been prepared for what is going to happen with the extra day off in between. Sometimes you might say it's good for us too, so who knows.
Q. Is it good for you?
CHRIS PRONGER: We'll find out tomorrow. (Laughs).
End of FastScripts...