June 14, 1999
BUFFALO, NEW YORK: Practice Day
CRAIG LUDWIG: Obviously we feel like we played a pretty good defensive game. I think we would like to get more scoring opportunities for ourselves because you know, it is obvious with a goaltender as good as you have over there, you get 30, 40 chances and you only come away with a couple of goals. We'd like to obviously get some more shots on net, a little more traffic and probably do the same thing that they are going to try to do. They want to get as many shots up as they can and get as much traffic in front of our goaltender because we have got a great goaltender also. These fellows, when they can see the shots, they can make the saves.
Q. They keep talking about giving the guys more room, more space; what do you think the chances are of getting that?
CRAIG LUDWIG: That's one of the strengths of our hockey club, is to eliminate that kind of space. Doesn't matter who we are playing, that is part of our game. It is a tight, tight checking game. It doesn't really matter what zone it is in. That is why there is so much emphasis put on our forwards with the hard work even; in the offensive zone you see everybody coming back; we always got somebody high. It is obvious that with the kind of speed and skilled players that they have over there they'd like to have some open ice and be able to make some things happen. From our standpoint that is obviously what we are trying to shut down.
Q. You are two wins away from having the opportunity to taste (inaudible)-- when you get that close to it, do you start to get that taste in your mouth?
CRAIG LUDWIG: I think this club has had that taste in its mouth for a long time. It is just a matter of being able to taste it. Over there, they want to taste it also. There is two teams here that want to win it just as bad as the other. I think the difference on our side is that there is a lot of us here that don't know when we are ever going to have a chance like this again. They have a young team over there and if they keep that team together they are going to have a heck of a team for a long time. We have got players here that we are down the road a ways and we look at this as possibly the last chance for us. There is no doubt that we are all very hungry and we are going to try to do whatever we can to achieve that goal
DARRYL SYDOR: I guess it gives me a little bit more creativity and be offensive with the puck. Back on the point I try and play more of a defensive role with Zuby; if there is an opportunity then I will be on defensively, but now I guess being a forward you need to be creative with the puck. I will try and make some room for Mike and for Jere; those are two key guys that obviously I want to go out there and do my best for them, but I want to keep my game simple. I am going to make them some room.
Q. Do their games change at all when you are on the wing as opposed to (inaudible) --
DARRYL SYDOR: I don't think it is going to change much. Those two guys, they play the way they play and I have to adjust to the way they play. I am going to try and get out there and skate and move the puck and just work hard. They bring a lot of energy to that line and bring a lot of physicalness to that line.
Q. Are you expecting a better game from Buffalo than what you saw in Game 3?
DARRYL SYDOR: For sure. You know, it is a long series and they are a team that has a lot of power and a lot of energy and a lot of players that can get the job done. We are not expecting anything but their best and we don't expect anything but our best either. We have been in this situation before and we didn't take advantage of it. So it is a key game for both clubs and we know what they are going to come up with, a lot of energy, and we are going to have to come out with energy and match it.
Q. Talk about your team's efforts to block shots --
DARRYL SYDOR: That gets kind of blown a little bit. I guess we are in the right place at the right time. Sure, we have our Craig Ludwig and Richard Matvichuk and guys of that nature that have done it most of their career of blocking shots, but, you know, I think it is just everybody feeds off of it; up front you got your Carbonneaus and this right now, this time of year, guys would put their face in front of it if they have to because there is a big prize at the end.
Q. There are teams that can see top-line players drop, one, two, three of them at a time. Yet this team seems to be able to overcome that. Why, what is it about this team that can do that?
DARRYL SYDOR: I think maybe just the closeness of our team, it is what the organization has done with depth and players we have kind of been waiting in the dugout. We have people that can come in at any time and play and players that are sitting out on any team can be first, second-liner that can play, but it is just our team, has been players that have sucked it up and just wait for this opportunity, if there is -- you don't want injuries to happen but when there is it is a chance for some guys to get in and play.
Q. Can you see the light at the end of the tunnel now; does that make you try any harder?
DARRYL SYDOR: No -- I mean, sure, we are up 2-1, but it doesn't make anything better if we come out tomorrow and don't make it 3-1; then it is 2-2, then we have to jockey for position again. We are not looking too far ahead. We are looking at we have six periods to win and we are going to take it one period at a time
Q. How is the wrist feeling today?
MIKE MODANO: Feeling good. It is going to get no better, no worse, so something I have just got to deal with.
Q. How about the fact that they may put Matvichuk a little bit more on Nieuwendyk this time rather than your line. How will that affect anything you guys do?
MIKE MODANO: Well, that is what is so great about our team. I think teams are forced to develop a checking line to stop one of our two lines and usually if they go after one, it leaves a lot of open room for the other one. If that is a fact and that is the case that they want to do, then we will be have to create our ice against other lines.
Q. Looking forward to, in essence, playing with three defensemen and you and -- (inaudible) --
MIKE MODANO: That may change throughout the night like things normally do with our line. Tony is ready to go and Darryl also. I think Darryl is a great skater. He has played wing before with me on our line, so very strong, his skating ability is one of the better skaters on the team.
Q. (inaudible) --
MIKE MODANO: There is still some -- I guess some responsibility, but we will be looking to go on the offense and looking for the breaks and the mistakes that they make; hopefully we can capitalize on them. There has been a lot more, I think, room in this series compared to the other series, so hopefully we can take advantage of that.
Q. There aren't many teams that can absorb the loss of top line players; whether it is you or Hull, this team seems to be able to; why?
MIKE MODANO: Well, our system is very disciplined and very direct in what we do. We are a team that thrives on wide open ice looking to, you know, certain individuals to break games open. We are very methodical in what we do; we are very patient and it is not really one guy or two guys that really breaks the game open - low scoring games, and that's really what we have base a lot of our success on last couple of years. We are not going to have a guy who scores 50 goals or 100 points on this team, but our scoring is spread throughout and I think that is what really makes us effective.
Q. Expect from them being that they had a bad performance and that (inaudible) --
MIKE MODANO: Pressure is on them tomorrow to perform and play well. There is no doubt, but we are going to approach it the same we did Saturday night as a must-win; that has kind of been our mindset every game that put everything we have into each and every game we play and hopefully that we can come out on top. Tomorrow is going to be no different the way we think about our game and approach it. It is going to be evened up or have a -- or have a good stranglehold us. Tomorrow is going to be the toughest game of the series, no question in anybody's mind. Usually when you get outplayed or in your home ice in front of your fans there is usually a response and a major regrouping. They have had two days to regroup and find ways to creates more shots and create more offense, but we are looking to play the same way we did Saturday. We have been doing that for a lot of games in the last year and that's really what our success is, we have great skaters. We backcheck well; action backcheck hard and limit their time in the neutral zone as much time as they can, and they are forced to dump the puck in which fits right into our game plan. So that is the key, I think, less time they have the better.
Q. Can you sense a guy stepping up when there is a void to be filled or does it go in the flow --
MIKE MODANO: I think it is just the flow.
Q. Can you talk about Mike Peca?
JOE NIEUWENDYK: He is a competitive player out there. He plays hard. I have seen a bit of him in this series played against all their centermen so, it will just be another challenge.
Q. When players are held out, did you ever get a conscious feeling that it is time to step up or is that something that in the process of as the game happens....
JOE NIEUWENDYK: I just think it happens within your group. I think your team realizes that they have got to come together in a hurry and that just happens naturally. Guys pick up their games and I think more importantly the team plays a little more tighter as a whole. We are real effective that way.
Q. (inaudible) --
JOE NIEUWENDYK: This is a huge game. It would be great to get this one, that is for sure. I think we were in this situation against Colorado and we let it slip through our hands. This is a big game. I think good to get the extra day off here so we are well rested and they are too, so I think it should be a good.
Q. (inaudible) --
JOE NIEUWENDYK: I think that shows the character and the depth of our hockey club. We got a lot of good players here that aren't playing right now that should be playing regularly. That is the one advantage we have. We have had a lot of practice at hit the last season too. We have had key people go down and it seems we always get great contributions from the people that step in.
Q. You also seem to have guys who can play a lot of different positions. Talk about that advantage.
JOE NIEUWENDYK: You got Tony Hrkac who is versatile and could play anywhere out there. I think that is what you have to have this time of year if, you know, if it need be, you have to break up your lines and move people around and we do a lot of that during the course of the season too. So it comes as no surprise to any of us as players. I think at this point you have to do whatever it takes to help your team win.
Q. I know you talked about this yesterday, your relationship with Hatch; what it is like. You guys have had your ups-and-downs. What is your take on that?
JAMIE LANGENBRUNNER: I think it is a pretty good relationship. He is a very demanding coach and I am a very demanding player myself. I am sure we clash once in a while on a few things, but I mean, it is just all something that we put into winning and hope to succeed and do well in. Sometimes he wants me to be the best player I can and sometimes it doesn't come across at the right time or when I particularly want it but it is usually the right thing.
Q. He is not really a player's coach, he hasn't played in the League, that kind of thing. How do guys take that?
JAMIE LANGENBRUNNER: Well, I think he is earning his respect as he goes along. Some coaches come in here and people respect them as a hockey person. He has done a great job with that. Tough situation to come into a small hockey town we have got. He has earned that and put himself into a position as a great coach.
Q. Game 4 you guys are in a similar situation that the Sabres were in going into Game 2. Put them in a very tough situation --
JAMIE LANGENBRUNNER: It is a great opportunity for us, but it is one game and we have got to make sure and come out and play our best. We want it as much as they do. We have got to go in with that focus.
End of FastScripts....