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May 16, 2007
OTTAWA, ONTARIO: Game Four
Q. Bryan, you said yesterday you learned what was necessary to succeed in the playoffs. Could you explain just what it was you learned last year about your team?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: Well, you need committed players. You need guys that will play defense, guys that will do whatever it takes blocking shots or competing, competitive people. Number one, obviously, you need some luck and you need goaltending. If you don't have that combination, then you have a difficult time.
Q. Bryan, being a guy from the area, what does it mean just to be part of kind of seeing that the whole community embracing this team and being kind of this looks to be a pretty special ride so far?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: Well, I think being in Canada, number one, being from a market like this and then being from a small town close by, that - you know, that many of them were wanting to be excited fans in the past but maybe had a more difficult time. But when they get into a situation where you're leading in a series and have a chance to go to the Stanley Cup finals, I think as we grow up, that's all we hear in this country, being either a player or a fan of a particular team that has a chance, you get onboard, you're excited about it, and if you care about the sport - there aren't many people in this area that don't care about it. It's a real reason to be proud.
Q. When you look at the beginning of this season, it was kind of almost like the sky is falling with this team. Was there ever a point where you thought, "I may not be here to see this thing through"?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: Oh, sure. I think that that was pointed out to me enough times that I had to realize that that was a possibility. But that's part of what it is in this racket.
If you're in pro sports, whether you're a player or a coach or a manager, whatever it may be, you're judged almost every day and the attitude changes based on performance, and we know that.
When I coached junior hockey, it's important to me at that time for our team to do well and important for the community to get onboard or otherwise, and it doesn't change when you get to this level. It's magnified now in this time of Internet and talk shows and scrutiny on a daily basis, there's no question that you can jump on and off fairly quickly.
Q. You sometimes find in the playoffs players who weren't willing to throw themselves in front of shots, who weren't the committed sort before who somehow find that. How do you explain that? Is that something that a coach gets them or a captain gets them to do that or is it just within themselves?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: No. Opportunity in this business, again, whether it's to become an NHL player or get a break or get into a lineup because of an injury, or, in this case, get to the playoffs with a group of guys that are really caring, learned their lessons in many ways, that if you don't get onboard now, you don't take advantage of that opportunity, you get left behind in the dressing room.
I don't go in and go to a particular player and say "You better start blocking shots." They see it happen. We talk about it in the general meeting, but they just take advantage of what crops up within a game and react accordingly. You find out lots about the players and how they react.
Q. Bryan, a lot of your players yesterday said they didn't want to go back to Buffalo for a Game 5. What was your message today to them as you try to close this series out?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: Just continue to work and play hard, you know, have the emotional stability going into the game to play right. Stick to the plan, I think that's the biggest message we have. Just stick to the plan and the way we're playing, but we need you to come and really be involved in the game.
And we understand very quickly, watching the game last night, if you're not committed to the game plan, you might not play as well as you should.
Q. Speaking of which, what's your appreciation of Dominik's play so far in the playoffs?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: I think he's been real good. I thought the one game he was really jumping around a lot and that was the one they lost in overtime and a couple pucks - where they got pushed or whatever, I thought - I thought last night he was the dominator. He was outstanding. Positionally, emotionally, you could see he was really ready, and positionally he was very, very outstanding.
Q. When he signed last summer with Detroit, did you expect or did you think he could play so far and so well so far in the playoffs?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: If he stayed healthy, without a doubt. We appreciated what he was last year here. He's got a reputation for a reason. He's performed, and very definitely if he stayed healthy that he could do a real good job.
Q. Bryan, are you able to talk to your family much at this point or they know better not to?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: My wife doesn't talk to me very much, but everybody else talks to me a lot (laughter).
Q. Does your mom offer advice at all?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: No. They're all - with five boys in the family, we all grew up around the game, all were pretty competitive, and I talked to my brother this morning. He's going on a fishing trip. He didn't have time to come to the game tonight. They don't - they cheer. We sit around and talk about the game quite often. Once in a while they'll say, "I don't know why you don't play so-and-so." Not very much of that.
Q. Bryan, just wondering, about the history of this playoff series, do you find that you have - eight years ago was the last time the Cup was won in Ottawa. This team has not made it this far, this point. Do you feel that history every time you hit the ice?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: No. I live the moment. We've heard many times about what went on, and actually I grew up around a gentleman that played at that time in Frank Finnegan. He was from Shawville. When I was old enough, I even dropped into his place a couple times and watched him play when he was - he must have been 70 years old when he played against one of the high school teams I coached. And he was a real competitive guy, but beyond that, you know, all I can worry about is this group today, how we're going to do, and we'll appreciate it much more when we get to the stage we want to get to.
Q. Bryan, you mentioned the need for competitive people. It seems like in the series so far, you guys are winning regularly because the physical battles. Volchenkov diving to knock the puck away from Briere on that break. These guys taking the puck away pretty easily. Is that your assessment of the series so far?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: Well, the thing that I've always appreciated about players and the teams and players I've had in the past, you try to get guys to work real hard, play real disciplined, to be a team. You know, acknowledging that some guys are more skilled than other players, but blocking shots is a skill. Hitting a guy is an ability on the part of an individual player. Not everybody wants to do that.
But, yeah, we've played very hard, very hard in this series to this point. The guys have worked, been disciplined, blocked shots, hit people, and that's why we're in the position we're in.
Q. Bryan, what do you expect from the Sabres tonight? How much fight do you think is left in that dog?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: I think there's a lot of fight. Just seeing that they went out yesterday and kind of had a little bit of a relaxing practice, I think that's a good thing for them. I think that they'll throw caution to the wind, if there's such a thing, and we have to be ready, and we certainly have to know that - I would think that they're going to come out in the first period and be really smart about their game. They may not have the great emotional drive, real smart, not give up anything. We have to handle that, and then hopefully our play will carry from that point on, but I expect a big effort from them.
Q. Bryan, you've had two opportunities to take care of opponents, and you've done it in both those games. Is it the same kind of mood from your team today, or do you sense any kind of nervousness or anything different?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: I think it's the same type of thing. I think we've approached each and every game. We don't go in and do a lot of different things. We try to pinpoint the important things in a particular game. We try to make it realistic that we know that they're capable of doing.
The biggest thing I think our players appreciate is that they have to be ready to play. Focus has to be there, and we have to play with tempo. That's the type of team we are.
We want to skate, we want to get on them, but we have to be focussed to play the way we want to play. When we get off track a little bit, which we have in different periods of games, they've been real easy to get back on track.
Q. Daniel, what's the mood of the team, I guess, on the eve or on the morning of yet another closeout game potentially for you guys?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: Same as it's been on other days. I think, you know, anxious to get the game going, I guess. I find these the toughest hours leading up to the game of a game day, trying to relax and, you know, try to think of anything else but the game. But it's hard. It's not until you get to the arena at night that you feel comfortable, you have your routine, and I think that's the way we feel as a team.
Q. Curious, how is this team different or how is this team different now with Bryan behind the bench as opposed to Sean?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: Good question. I think, you know, his experience really has a big effect on us. He's been through all situations before. I think whatever has happened, adversity we've faced, whatever it might have been, you know, he knows how to handle those situations.
He's really good with the media. I think he's really good at taking pressure off us players in the media. At the same time, I think he's good to motivate us as well. I think he's been more of a calming influence more than anything.
Q. Daniel, it's said that it's a long way, long battle to get to the Stanley Cup final. You still can enjoy it right now? We see you smiling, but it's still a lot of work. Do you find time to enjoy what you're going through?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: Yeah. I mean, it's a fun time to be in the playoffs. The weather is usually pretty good except today, but, you know, you can take your jacket off and it's a good time of the year. Spring is a great time. You have good things than in January and February.
I think we enjoy it, but I think it is - like I said, we don't want to get caught up in everything. You have to really stay humble and get ready for the next challenge, and I think - I don't think you'll really enjoy it until it's over.
Q. Daniel, just wondering, a lot of fans are using the word "sweep" to describe tonight's game. Are you feeling that pressure, that you want to take these guys in four games?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: No. I think we feel pressure every game we go into to win. We're not going to change our approach. I think every game is very important, and I don't think you can say this one is more important than the other one because then you're telling yourself that you could have had another gear in Game 1 than you did in Game 5.
You've got to go out and give them everything you have every night and see what happens. That's the way we look at it tonight. We've got to go out and, you know, work as hard as we can tonight and see what happens.
Q. Do you pay attention to hysteria around here as the town gets a little crazier about the series and team? Do you pay attention to that or just block it out?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: I try to block it out. I don't watch too much TV or listen to the radio or read too much, either. I try to get away from the rink. I try to focus on other things when I'm away from the rink. I watch "Dancing with the Stars," which I probably would never do but (laughter) - anything to get my mind off the game.
Q. Daniel, you know they say a long playoff run is usually - there's got to be something, some turmoil in there for a team to get to the Stanley Cup final. Has this almost been too easy for your club so far? Is that a concern at all?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: It hasn't felt too easy at all. I can tell you that. I think this series as well, every game has been a battle right to the end, and I think we expect the same thing tonight. Even though we've won a lot of games, I don't think we feel we're better than we are. We know we have to turn everything we get and that's it going to take a lot of hard work.
Q. Can you imagine what would happen in this town if somehow you didn't win this series?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: No. You can't worry about that. Got to take it one game at a time. You know, you see those ads that someone food-poisons the whole team. Those odds are not big, but you can't control - you control your effort and your determination.
Q. Daniel, a lot has been made of the commitment on the team this year to things like backchecking and especially shot blocking. How do you think your team has bought into that? How did that process happen and how difficult is that to do, because your team seems to do more of it than other teams?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: I don't know. I think, like I said before, when we threw some games, we went through some adversity throughout the year. In January we had some injuries. Everybody pulled together. We had to play more of a defensive style of game and more sacrificing style of game than we did when we were healthy. And we saw the success we had, and I think that's the biggest thing when you do something and even though it's - it takes maybe a lot of commitment, lot of hard work, but if you're successful, it doesn't feel like it's that much of a burden.
Q. Daniel, compare the feeling, if you can, today to the feeling of last February when you were going up against the Czech Republic in the Olympics to get to the final game versus England.
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: It's so different because the Olympics is such a short term. It's very hard to compare. This is something, you know, you try to achieve with a bunch of guys for seven, eight months.
But, I mean, playing those games where it's do or die, it's almost like Game 7 three times in a row, quarter finals, semi-finals, and then the finals. I mean, it's just the same thing. It's important to have a routine once you get to the rink, and I remember the day of the 6gold medal game, the hours before getting to the rink are terrible. You just can't get your mind thinking about whatever about the game, and it's the same thing here in the playoffs.
Q. Daniel, if you watch "Dancing the Stars," it means you don't watch game from other series. But there's a guy in Detroit, former teammate of yours, doing very good in the nets and he's 42.
Are you - is it amazing to see him doing so well at his age, and are you surprised?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: Not really. I think we saw what he could do here last year when he's healthy. I think he's a fierce competitor, and I think they're playing well, very well, in front of him as well. He's one of the best ever in this game.
Q. Daniel, can you describe how much tougher it is to finish off a team than any other game in the series and how much harder a team plays when they're facing that?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: Yeah. I think there's a few factors that goes into that, too, because, you know, they know there's no tomorrow for them. It's tonight and it's - they have nothing-to-lose feeling. You know, usually that brings out the best for some reason, I don't know why, but we faced the same thing when we played them last year. We were able to win Game 4 in Buffalo, and it's going to be a tough challenge for us, there's no question, and I think we feel confident in each other if we go out and work extremely hard and follow our game plan, that we're going to give ourselves a pretty good chance of winning.
End of FastScripts