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May 31, 2007
OTTAWA, ONTARIO: Practice Day
FRANK BROWN: Questions for Coach.
Q. I was just wondering, in last night's game, one of the keys seems to be that Sammy Pahlsson, not only did he score the goal, but he was pretty dominant in the face-off circle. Tell me a little bit why you think when he's on like he was last night, he's such a good face-off man.
COACH RANDY CARLYLE: I think at times face-offs are a collective stat. It's is not just the one guy. As you notice in a lot of the playoffs, certain center icemen, they have the tie-up mode going on and the wingers jump in and help recover all the loose pucks. I think that has a loot to do with the percentage also.
And the stats dictate. But it's not just one individual that's competing for the puck off the face-off, there's a group of players. Sammy has his share of secrets and techniques that he likes to use. And every good face-off guy does.
And he hones those skills on a day-to-day basis in practice. He does lots of work on it after practice, and we think those little things pay off in the end. And surprisingly you would think he's a small-bodied guy, but he's over 210 pounds and six-one. So he's a bigger, thicker-bodied individual than he appears on the ice.
Q. To take a long flight like that is always difficult, but to do it after two wins at home, what was the mood of the team and how much easier was it to make that long flight or did you have to keep them grounded, so to say?
COACH RANDY CARLYLE: There's no real grounding in this. We have traveled extensively through the course of the season being a West Coast team. So these type of travel days are not unfamiliar to us.
We have a schedule that we follow and we felt it was in our best interest to make sure we had a good night's sleep. We had a 10:00 departure, puts us in here a little before 6:00. We'll have a team stretch and whatnot. They're doing that right now, once they get off the plane, and then they'll go have dinner.
Then we'll prepare again for tomorrow's practice. It's like we get into this routine and it's a routine that you start not just in - for the playoffs, but you start in September. And being the number of miles that we do put on, geographically where we're located, it's the nature of our business, it's part of our job.
We take this very serious about preparing the schedule and making sure we have the proper food on the planes and making sure we do the stretches and the bike rides when we get off the plane if we didn't have an opportunity to practice. And we think that's very important.
Q. Randy, could you talk a little bit, please, about the decision and the reason for the decision to base the team here as opposed to in Ottawa?
COACH RANDY CARLYLE: Well, we had another hotel that was out in Kanata and it was first on our list, but the NHL took all the rooms there. They took over being at the media center for the Stanley Cup Final. Then I guess the Board of Governors meeting is going to take place during the Finals.
So the league had booked that ahead of us. And we had looked for an alternative. We could have went downtown Ottawa, but knowing the intensity and the atmosphere that's created in Canadian cities with the culture of the game, we thought it was in our best interest if we moved and got away from downtown area.
We think that it's time to focus. We can sacrifice our interaction with the public focusing on the task at hand. And it's not too many times you get an opportunity to play in the Stanley Cup Final. And we think that this allows us to prepare our group totally 100% on hockey.
Q. Randy, you've done something that no other team has been able to do, and that was to break up the Spezza line. As a collective group, is there a lot of pride taken in being able to force them into that kind of change, and do you expect a whole lot more changes from Bryan come now that the series switched to Ottawa?
COACH RANDY CARLYLE: I don't think you take pride or you look at it that way. It's two competitive hockey clubs and coaches have to make adjustments as you go forward.
If it's not game to game, it's shift to shift. You make decisions that are at times going to be challenged. And sometimes they work. Sometimes they don't. And the issue as far as who they're going to play with who, we really don't know who they're going to play with.
We know that they've got a very talented group and they have lots of options. So we have to be prepared to implement our game plan on our day-to-day basis and not really focus on what the other team is doing.
Obviously there's matchups that we like and there's matchups that they would like. Yet you work to get those. But I think really the focus is about what we can do better in the games, and we have to deal with it and play the hand that's dealt us.
Q. History shows us that only three teams have erased an 0-2 deficit in the Stanley Cup. Nobody has done it for a while. Does that give you any guys any level of comfort at all?
COACH RANDY CARLYLE: I wouldn't say there's any level of comfort. If you were at both games, they're both one-goal hockey games. And that's what playoffs are about. They're two evenly matched hockey clubs trying to earn their space and get some sort of an advantage in a game-to-game, shift-to-shift basis. And these games have been highly competitive. There's lots of energy. There's lots of physical play and there's lots of skill play. And there's good defensive play.
So I'd say that the games have been to a point where there's no coach that's going to sit here and say that he's comfortable. I guarantee you our group is not comfortable.
Q. You did mention the one-goal games and your teams won a lot of them. Is that sort of coincidence, or is there maybe some sort of mindset a team gets comfortable playing in those tighter games maybe?
COACH RANDY CARLYLE: I don't know. I think that as a coach and as players you'd rather win games that were more than one-goal games. But that's the playoffs. You're not going to get those opportunities.
You have to earn every inch of your space on the ice, and you have to execute to a high level, and you have to stick to the game plan and play with structure.
And we talk about it on a day-by-day basis. Those are things that are going to be at the forefront of you having or not having success.
Q. From staying out of the box to killing penalties to being sound defensively, all that, the guys in the room were saying they thought it was one of their best games of the playoffs. Do you concur and how good was it to see that in obviously a game of that magnitude?
COACH RANDY CARLYLE: Well, I think as the coaching staff you always look at it and, like we talked about, numerous occasions that you enjoy the win for ten minutes, because the next one is the most important one.
And what happened in last night's game, we played a solid hockey game but so did they. And we were fortunate, as I said last night, that we won a one-goal game and we got a bounce that went our way. That's the way we're going to approach it.
We know the hockey club that we're facing is a highly skilled group. They've achieved and got to where they are by earning it. They've got pride. And now they're on their home ice. And they're going to utilize their fans to motivate.
Q. In previous rounds, Bryan Murray tried a lot to play his top line against the other team's top line when he had last change. Is that pretty much what you expect?
COACH RANDY CARLYLE: There's a game plan that each coaching staff sets out. And I don't know what he wants to do for Thursday and time will tell. We have people that we'd like to have on the ice against their certain matchups, and I'm sure he would like to work for his matchups. With him having the last change, it makes it more difficult for us. So as far as what they're going to do and who they'd like to play who against, that remains to be seen, and we just have to have our people ready and able to do what's necessary to work to get our matchups and to play hard against the individuals that they're matched up against.
FRANK BROWN: Thanks, Coach.
Q. Scott, I was just wondering, Randy was just talking a little bit about traveling out here and kind of the mindset a team like yours has to go into, because you do so much traveling. You've kind of been on both ends of it. You've played this deep into a season in New Jersey where you played three rounds in the East and you don't put as many miles on and now you've done it here. Can you just talk about is it a very different experience with the amount of travel that a Western team like yourself has to put on in a playoff run?
SCOTT NIEDERMAYER: Yes, it's different, there's no question. Obviously a day like today, the majority of the day is taken up getting to the town where you have to play. So it's quite a difference, I guess, being out East, a long trip would be considered down to Florida, two and a half hours.
So there's a difference there. And you learn how to adjust and what works for you as far as how to feel good when game time does come around, for sure.
Q. Scott, you must be familiar with this place. This is where the Devils stayed back in 2003. Do you like this place better rather than being, say, downtown or is it nice to be removed from - away? And do you think there's maybe some good luck involved in staying here?
SCOTT NIEDERMAYER: I don't really have a decision at where I stay. I get on a bus when the plane lands and it takes me to where my bed will be. So I think obviously it's busy. There's probably some hotels booked up, for various reasons we've ended up out here, which is fine by me.
And our job is on the ice, and there's other people that worry about those things, so...
Q. Giggy, I know this isn't Montreal, long way from Montreal, but it's Quebec. Kind of neat in a way to be here?
JEAN-SEBASTIEN GIGUERE: Yes, it's been probably seven or eight months I've been in Quebec. So it's kind of nice to stay here for me. It feels like I'm at home right now.
And it's not that far away. It's only about a couple hours so there will be a lot of family members at the game and stuff like that. So it's going to be a different experience, and I'm happy that I can share that with some of my family, which have been my biggest fans my whole career. So it's nice to be able to do that for them.
Q. Sammy, just how much pride has your line taken being able to not only shut down the Spezza line everybody talks about but now you've split them up in a way? Is that something you've talked about more so than even providing the offense the game-winning goals?
SAMUEL PAHLSSON: Well, our first job out there is to try to stop them from scoring, I guess. And if we score, it's kind of a bonus. We put a lot of pride in doing our thing out there and not taking any chances and playing the simple game we have to play to not give any turnovers or free chances for them.
Q. Sammy, there's actually been talk now since the last two games that you're being considered for the Conn Smyth candidate if that were to ever roll around. Do you kind of joke and brisk at that, the thought of people talking about that already? It's not a whole lot of times a checking line guy gets a lot of recognition for it.
SAMUEL PAHLSSON: I wouldn't think about it either. It's all about winning. That's why we're here, personal records really doesn't matter now. It's all about winning two more games for us and nothing else matters.
Q. J.S., you were on that team in 2003 that I think matched an NHL playoff record for most wins for one goal. You were one away from matching that record again. What has been the secret, the key to this team's success in pulling out the tight ones?
JEAN-SEBASTIEN GIGUERE: You know, there's a lot that has to do with it. I think hard work is one of them. Preparation is one of them.
You know, we started working on this season in the summer, last summer, and through training camp, and all that work that every single guy has put on the ice, staying tough when it's needed the most, when we're at the most critical time.
And that's the only way you can explain that. I mean a bit of it I'm sure has to do with luck, too, but I truly believe in hockey you create your own luck through hard work.
Q. Scott, you guys embraced the high expectations that were put on you guys at the start of the year and even openly talked about the Cup. I'll ask as far as being able to maintain that kind of focus over an entire season and even throughout the playoffs, can you compare at all what this team has done as far as not letting that focus waiver much with maybe some of the other teams that you've been on?
SCOTT NIEDERMAYER: I don't think it's been quite that smooth all year long. I remember some times where obviously we weren't happy with how we were performing on the ice. But I think everybody, they ask questions like that and everybody sort of says the same thing.
I mean, you have high expectations of yourself. You want to do your best. Perform as well as you can, as well as your team can, and really the added ones that are talked about from other people or different places, I don't think have as much effect on the atmosphere on a team than what guys are feeling and talking about in the dressing room, and that's really what matters.
And obviously, like you said, last year we started building something and wanted to try and carry it through this year and try and be one of the top teams in the league. And we work at that every day. It doesn't happen and you have to keep working at it, so...
Q. J.S., obviously in 2003 you guys were down 2-0 to the Devils then you came back and you forced the Game 7 and obviously that game could have gone either way. Has that been discussed at all as you guys arrive here as kind of a warning to everybody on the team to not get too far ahead of themselves? Has that kind of institutional memory been called upon?
JEAN-SEBASTIEN GIGUERE: Not yet, but I'm sure we're going to talk about it. I'm sure the coaching staff is going to talk about that.
Obviously everybody takes pride in being good at home and they're going to do that. They worked too hard all year, I'm sure, to just let it go. So we're going to have to match their intensity and their desperation to have a chance. And we know it's not going to be easy. It's going to be a tough battle. We'll just take it definitely one game at a time, take it one shift at a time.
And we know that if we play the way we can play, we can be successful. But we're going to have to - it's going to be about what kind of energy we bring to the rink and stuff like that.
Q. Giggy, you guys have one on the road throughout these playoffs in each series. Just simply put, what do you think has been really the reason behind that? Because it's obviously made a difference in each of those series
JEAN-SEBASTIEN GIGUERE: I believe we're very comfortable playing on the road as well as at home. We're a team, we have size. We have toughness. We can skate with any team in this league so it doesn't really matter whether we play at home or on the road. We'll be the same type of team and we'll try to implement our game style over theirs.
Obviously it's a bit more difficult on the road and you're not going to win as many. But I think if we play our game plan, like the coach is implementing, you should have a chance at the end of a game?
Q. Sammy, these guys, Giggy and Scotty and Robbie, that have been in the Final before, does that help at all, having had that experience before, the intensity of being there before?
SAMUEL PAHLSSON: I guess the experience helps. If you've been there before, you must have picked up something, I guess. It's always good to have been there before. It's not new to us, all the media attention and everything around it. So I think it helps.
Q. Really any of you, I guess Giggy, since I've asked you to follow up on it, I imagine too that over the last two years you guys have had many different atmospheres, raucous atmospheres you've dealt with, I guess you're just comfortable that come Saturday it's not going to be that much different than, say, any of the other places that you guys have played in?
JEAN-SEBASTIEN GIGUERE: Well, we expect it to be some type of a - it's going to be like crazy. It's going to be fun. It's going to be a very exciting atmosphere to be here. It's definitely not going to be for us, but it's going to be an interesting challenge to live by. And having been through Edmonton last year and places like Calgary and even our building, there's also a gap.
So it's something that we shouldn't even worry about. We should just go about playing our game. Obviously the first ten minutes is going to be really crucial and we'll have to try to quiet them down as much as we can and try to play our game.
Q. Sammy, you mentioned nothing really being new. You've been here before. You mentioned the media attention. You're getting considerably more media attention than you've gotten in the past. Are you comfortable with it? Do you enjoy it? Do you wish it would go away? How do you feel about that?
SAMUEL PAHLSSON: Parts of it is fun. But some parts you could live without, too, I guess. But it's always nice to be recognized and everyone likes that. But sometimes it's too much, too. But it's something I have to live with as a hockey player. And it's not a problem for me.
FRANK BROWN: Thank you, gentlemen.
End of FastScripts