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May 29, 2007
ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA: Practice Day
FRANK BROWN: Questions for Coach.
Q. I guess first off, Coach, after you got some rest and evaluated last night's game, your thoughts this morning on your team's performance and what you have to do going into Game 2?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: Who got any rest? Well, we didn't play very well. I think that's an understatement. We had turnovers. We at times - some of our players, we looked like we were playing in October.
We tried to do things - and we didn't meet the challenge. Anaheim were very physical. They got in and forechecked aggressively as we all know. We didn't move the puck as well as we did.
The thing that concerned me, and I think the winning goal was an example of it, the way we played in our own end. We had coverage, then we didn't have any coverage at all. Then somebody asked about Wade Redden last night. It certainly wasn't him on that play.
He got the puck turned over. Niedermayer made a good pass. But we had a third man in position to do something for a moment and got lost and they ended up winning the game.
So the good thing about it all, I know we'll play much better. I know we'll handle the puck a lot better.
And I guess when we lost with - it was one of those games where it was 2-1 for us, 2-2 until three and a little bit to go in the game. It was a winnable game. If we can upgrade our play a little bit, it will be a very competitive series.
Q. Bryan, you've talked about Dany Heatley quite a bit this spring and about the change in his game. Wonder if you could talk about Jason Spezza and what you've seen in the two seasons you've had him in terms of where you think he's taken strides and what you thought of him and beforehand?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: Well, he used to play like he played last night (laughter), and then he became a real good two-way player and he's a very smart player, very creative player. I think he's improved his game immensely. I'm not sure why it happened the way it did last night, whether it was the first game in the Finals, whether it was being off that long time, whether it was a variety of reasons.
But Jason has really emerged as a good player in this league and a good player, obviously, in our hockey team. And an important player and his game will have to improve a great deal back to where it was in the earlier series, and I'm sure it will.
Q. Bryan, are you concerned about the way that you guys didn't respond to them physically last night?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: Well, I think that they got their physical play from good dump-ins and us not holding anybody up. Their first man got in, got the hits. That was the main part.
The other part is when people are standing around in front of the net trying to defend and they're hammering away at our defensemen as well as the goaltender. Those are the two main areas that concern me.
And we, I guess, will have to adjust our style to get back to holding up their forechecker better with our man, because it's obvious that it's not being called. And we have to encourage our guys to do it.
Those are the areas that help or hurt aggressive play. When they got in time after time and got a chance to run a defenseman on a clean shot at them, it's very difficult for the D to make a play.
And in turn, when we try to do that got held up a couple times and we don't get the contact, and I think if we clean that part of it up, our game will be a lot better.
Q. Does that mean you think that the officiating has to be better as well?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: No, I think the rules have to be made clear to me. That's all.
Q. Who would you talk to about that?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: I'll talk to the series supervisor.
Q. That was the next question. Will you have a chance to talk to them, discuss the way the game was officiated, why they don't enforce it maybe the way they planned they would?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: I just talked to some of the Detroit people yesterday and they told me this is the way it went on. I guess it would have to be clear in my mind this is what's going to happen and we'll be allowed to do likewise, that's all.
Q. Similar to when Detroit was here. Switching gears, could you go back to the '03 draft, Getzlaf and Perry, what you saw there with those, the guys you had targeted? Clearly that was an extraordinary draft class and to get two players -
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: Yeah. We liked two guys a lot in that draft: Parise, who New Jersey took, and Getzlaf with our pick. We all love Corey Perry. I went out with Tim Murray several times to watch him play. What we liked about him, he was so competitive a kid. Kind of brought that to the NHL, too.
And so we were able to get Getzlaf. I think there was - at that time he slipped to us simply because a lot of people saw him play one night great and then the next night not so great. And we kind of understood young players do that. And I think we see a guy now that's not at the top of his game yet, but two years from now or a year from now he'll be that much better, I believe.
And then we had two picks in the second round, and I was trying from like 24 on to get a pick so I could take Perry. I couldn't get it done until we got - I think it was the 26th pick was made I called Doug Armstrong at 28. And he had nobody really in mind that he really liked for that particular pick. So he made the deal with me.
That was a big thing. We signed Kunitz that year and we got Miller that year. We got a few kids that were real good and ended up - you kind of watch them play. I wish they were playing elsewhere right now, but they're good players and they'll make this franchise a real good franchise for a lot of years.
Q. Friday in Ottawa we spoke about Pahlsson, how good he was on the defensive side of the game. Last night that line overtook the first line of Ottawa. For tomorrow night's game, is there a way for you to take them apart or do you still think the matchup between those two guys, if your three key guys are playing as good as they can, they're able to overcome that trio?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: I think they'll have to be able to overcome a little. Here's the decision I had last night. Our lineup played so well in every series so far. I get into the first period or second period, see they're not going as good as they should be, do I, because of that, break them up in the first chance I get and then kind of panic, show panic?
So I decided, stick with them, let them play. We recognized Niedermayer's a good skater, that Pahlsson is a real strong center iceman, very physical kind of player. If we play, our guys, we'll have to see if they can or not, our guys have to find a way to get some points against that particular line.
But it's not only the forward line. They get their D out there as well that match up pretty well at the same time. It's a good test for them, good challenge for them.
I've got to allow them at least some time to have that challenge. That's in response to your article today, Kevin.
Q. I was going to follow up on that. When you were talking to Detroit about holding up on the D, did you ask them as well? They had success by breaking up their line?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: Well, Scotty called me and I talked to him in length yesterday. He pointed out - he felt they broke it up and it worked a little bit. But he felt when they put them back together that maybe it was the way that it would have worked a little better. And that's Zetterberg and Datsyuk. I guess in the third period of the last game they went back together and had a real rally.
There's a variety of ways to approach it. We have to find out if we're going to battle better, if we're going to compete against a checking line better, can we get away from them once in a while? Will that be beneficial? Can we draw some penalties? There's a variety of things we have to look at.
But at some stage we have to have some success, too, with our best players.
Q. Bryan, other teams in these playoffs have talked about maybe the Ducks' extra hacking and whacking at the goal on plays in front of the net and whatsoever. How much do you think - is that maybe them crossing the line at all? How much do you think - are you going to maybe voice that with Colin?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: I think everybody sees what - I don't have to say one word to anybody, really. I am. I have. But I don't have to, because every time I talk to one of the league officials they've seen it and it's a matter of application.
And I'm not sure if they do or not. I think there were a couple times last night where Ray Emery had the puck covered and there were two or three extra hacks at him.
But I asked one of the officials one comment, and he told me to go stand behind the bench. So it's very hard for me to do anything other than be the guy behind the bench standing there and hope that somebody recognizes that there are levels that we've been told you play at, and it's called accordingly.
But I can't answer for the officials.
Q. Bryan, every time your team has faced adversity in these playoffs, they've come out strong. Game 2 loss in Pittsburgh, Game 2 loss in New Jersey, Sabres are feeling good about themselves in Game 5 before you put them out. What do you expect from your team? It's the first time you've been down in the series. Just the sense you've been getting from them today?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: I think they were all upset. As I said, this is the Stanley Cup Finals. This is the time to meet challenges. And I would think and hope that the focus - and they were real good and very understanding today. They know they played a long piece in the way they can play as a group.
We did some things we hadn't done, as I mentioned, in a long time. So I expect that the attitude - not the attitude, the attitude was good going into the game last night, but the way we play the game and the way we follow the plan will be better tomorrow night.
Q. When you see them put their two top defensemen, Pronger and Niedermayer, together, does that allow you to do more because it's almost making them a bit more top heavy than they normally are?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: No, the good thing about the two guys they have, they play a lot of minutes. They can put them out together and leave one of them one and put another guy out. They double them up. I don't think there's occasions where you're really going to get away from either Chris or Scott. Either one of them are going to be out there the majority of the time.
They do a real good job. We recognize that. We have to find a way to make them work harder to play the game.
Q. Can you talk about the five-on-three in the second period? After looking at it, was it something that you saw maybe that you didn't like particularly in forcing things and it seemed to be the theme?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: I thought that was a real key point of the game. We had a fair amount of time, two-man. We made one good shot when Dany Heatley walked off the goal lines, came out. The next one was Spezz from the side. Other than that, we really did some impossible things.
And so not very happy. We had shown before the game started three clips where Detroit had five-on-threes and didn't score and what happened and how they play, and we really felt we would shoot the puck better at that time, particularly from the top. But for some reason we kept throwing it down, throwing it down and the puck got turned over on one occasion, got it down the ice and that killed a lot of time.
Q. Bryan, it seems like Anaheim plays a real aggressive game. They'll send one guy, two guys, sometimes three guys. They want to play that way. I guess it's a two-part thing. Have you seen a lot of that this year in the East? And, secondly, how do you counteract that? How is the ying and yang to that to counteract that to make it work for you?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: Again, I think when you get the right dump and the right chaser, it's hard to counteract it. The D have to get the puck, move it as hard and as quickly as you can. If you don't do that, you get whacked into the wall pretty well. The second guy takes the wall, then it's a scramble.
The only thing that you have - and we didn't do a good job of it. Our centers weren't paced enough to support the puck. So when it was moved from side to side or whatever, they pinched down, our centers should have been there as the second man immediately, and they were pulling out too often.
So we have to be more responsible in our own end. As I mentioned, maybe getting in position to obstruct the guy coming in a little bit better buys us a second or two to allow the first pass to be better.
Q. Do you see a lot of that kind of reckless game? Because I don't see it as much in these.
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: No, I don't think so. I think Buffalo, not as big a team but they really, really take the walls well. They forecheck well and pinch consistently. And it took us a while. Took us a couple of games to really adjust and play better against them.
But they physically don't do the same thing as this team does by any means. They play the same style, but physically don't finish their checks as hard. And that's a factor over time, of course. But beyond that I don't think there are other teams that do it as well.
FRANK BROWN: Thank you.
Q. Daniel, Bryan talked about Spezza playing like the old Spezza prior to - instead of the new Spezza. Did you see a change in his game last night? And if so, do you have a theory for why he didn't play the way he's been playing in the playoffs?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: I think it was that whole line. It felt like after the game we made it too easy for them by not getting the puck in deep and working their D more.
So, I mean, we acknowledged it after the game, we talked about it, the three of us. And I'm sure we'll play smarter and be better tomorrow.
Q. Daniel, those three guys, Pahlsson and Niedermayer and Moen, they bring a dimension that you guys didn't see as much in the first three rounds on the physical side of the game. Is it something you can deal with or is it something that you will have to skate faster, go around them instead of playing strength against strength?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: I don't see it as a big difference. They play more physical. But it's not that big a difference. I think our game is skating and moving our feet. But when we turn the puck over, we have to stop. We gotta come back. We got a rhythm. I think that's the one thing. We hurt ourselves more than what they did to us. They're a good line, but I think we hurt ourselves more than what they did to stop us.
Q. You said that at some point against a checking line, against perhaps New Jersey, you felt your line might be broken up. Were you a little bit surprised you all had the same color sweaters this morning when you came to the rink?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: No. No, I don't think so. I think we've been pretty consistent throughout the playoffs. And I don't think we're pushing the padding, but like I said, we realized we've got to be better. But who knows what's going to happen.
I think we can play real well together. If we don't, I don't think the coach is going to wait six games before he breaks us up. But I think we'll bounce back and have a good effort tomorrow.
FRANK BROWN: Thank you.
End of FastScripts