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June 3, 2007
OTTAWA, ONTARIO: Practice Day
PHIL LEGAULT: Questions for Coach.
Q. Any update on McAmmond? I know Fisher didn't skate; it was a rest day?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: I gave him the day to kind of get away from the skate. I made it somewhat optional to a number of the guys. McAmmond doesn't look promising, but I have talked to him very, very briefly. We'll just have to see how he recovers.
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: I don't know that. We'll just have to wait and see until almost game time if there's a chance at all.
Q. Can you talk about what you're missing with McAmmond if he doesn't? Can you talk about what the team is missing if McAmmond doesn't play?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: Well, he plays center on the line for us. It's a speed line, our energy line, I guess, you might say. Dean's got real use in the PK; him and Alfredsson are a pair. He's one of those people that we got to the third period, if we're ahead by one, he very often would take a Comrie or someone of that nature and play that role as a defensive responsible player.
So I think any player at this time of year that you have in your active roster is an important player.
Q. If it's possible to separate yourself from the fact that you're his coach, there's a huge issue with head shots, has been for a couple of years now. We're at a Stanley Cup Final where every bit of hockey attention is on that hit last night. Should and will that have any bearing on how this whole thing is handled by the league?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: It probably will have. I would assume - it wasn't the only one in the game, though, by the player. There were three that I saw just very quickly this morning.
But I can't really make any determination. I'm very prejudiced about what should happen with history and all the rest of it. So I'll just wait for the league to make the ruling.
Q. Just talked about what he does on the ice, but what about in the room? He's a veteran player; he's been with you for a while; what does he bring for the club?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: First, he's a real good guy. He's a real quiet man, but very emotional when it comes game time, very focused on the game, and he's been one of the players at the beginning of the year I looked at and said he's not a physical player really. He has speed. I'll just put him on the fourth line.
But I found as the year went on, he became more and more important, in the room as well as on the ice, as a guy that a lot of the younger guys reach to and talk to a lot.
He's got that patience about him that a lot of us don't have that allows him to have a conversation with a young player and help the player.
And Pat Eaves, and I think he's taken Saprykin under his wing to give him an opportunity to play and got him playing a more responsible role.
Q. Just wanted to see, Chris had the first goal last night. What is he bringing to the playoffs for us as far as two goal and he has two goals, now?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: He's a strong guy on our hockey team. He brings a physical presence obviously. He's a chatter box at time. He has ability around - I haven't played him as much probably on the power play this year as the net presence as I did last year, but he can play there. The goal - he got a responsible position being the third man he jumped when the puck became available, he jumped in and got a stick on it and went in for him.
So every team needs that kind of player. I think Anaheim have a couple of them. We have a couple of them.
Q. Are you getting closer to doing the things that you wanted to do? I know last night you suggested that it was good but far from perfect?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: I think we had more energy and more battle in us last night. I thought the first two games in Anaheim we didn't play close to the type of game we had been playing through the playoffs.
And I'm not sure whether it was all about Anaheim or a lot about us or whatever. But at any rate, we played better last night. But I still thought that we gave up a number of chances, positionally, that it's a hard time winning in the playoffs if you do that.
We got caught chasing behind the net against Niedermayer. Why would you ever do that? We did it several times. They got odd man rushes out of it.
We've talked about it already, but certainly it was a better effort than the previous games.
Q. Has Mike Fisher, I guess to use an old cliche, raised his game to another level, has he been your more consistent forward in these three games?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: Yes, I think so. We know Mike is a hard-working real determined type of guy with lots of character. His skating allows him to do an awful lot for us. Probably if you rate him over the three games, he was probably the best to this point in time.
Q. Did the performance of your support players maybe take a bit of pressure off that first line?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: As I said last night, I don't think in this league at this time of year, in particular, you can win if you don't have a variety of people doing a lot for you.
And we saw the energy that Vermette and Kelly played well. Chris played well. I thought McAmmond's line played really well. Mike Fisher each and every night has done a real good job for us.
So if you don't have that, as I said, it's hard to win.
Q. Along those lines, you got the production last night from your second, third and fourth lines, are you getting what you want out of your first line, though, and their power play performance?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: Well, they got a power play goal. They had the puck more last night. I thought, you know, again, Anaheim did a good job against them. But very definitely, they were better. Will they play better than this? We certainly hope so.
We think the way they played through the first part of the playoffs, they were better. Mind you, they're playing different people, different size, and that has a little bit of a factor.
But as they step up a little bit and the other guys continue to play hard as they did, we have a good chance to get back into the series.
Q. Outside of the obvious that last night's win got you within one of tying the season, is the first win that much important to take care of the pressure we can get snowballed here and things like that?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: No doubt. When you go on the road to open the series. I kind of like going on the road. But it didn't work out this time. We had a chance. Ray Emery gave us a chance to steal Game 2. We hadn't played that well. He gave us a chance.
But now coming home, you win one. Now I think the confident people, confidence level of our team is different today than it was going into the game yesterday. And I think we'll play accordingly. I hope we'll play accordingly. And we'll just have to drop the puck tomorrow and find out.
Q. The ability of your guys to get in on the forecheck and pound their D a little bit last night perhaps provoke the loss of discipline and the things you saw later in the game and does that kind of provide a little bit of a blueprint for you going from this point on?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: I think they did that to us pretty well out there. We were able to do it better last night. I think we knew through the neutral zone to me was a key getting the puck in proper position so we could get the puck in and get people moving.
And it was a big factor, obviously, in the game. We got the puck down deep. We had lots of battles around the side of the net, back of the net. And obviously we'd like to continue that, yeah.
Q. So many games in the playoffs your top line led the way the role for the second, third, fourth lines became primarily defensive. In any way do you think they fell in the trap of relying on those guys a little bit?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: We didn't get much out of the other lines in Anaheim. We can blame the top guys or the top offensive guys, but we didn't get much out of the other guys as well, which was an understatement. But there's no question - the Kelly line, in particular Vermette, has ability to do things. And Chris Neil hadn't played to the level he played last night. And they had at different times during the year.
And maybe they were kind of sitting there waiting and hoping that one of the other guys would score a goal and then they just match up and check whoever they had to check again. So that's part of an excuse, too. There's no reason for that.
But at least last night they recognized that they had to step up and they did.
Q. You've challenged your shooters before Game Three to get more pucks at the net and they did. Is it a matter if they keep putting the pucks there the goals will come like they did last night?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: I don't know that they'll come quite in the numbers, but definitely we weren't giving ourselves a chance to get any before. In the second game, we didn't get the puck in very cleanly often. But when we did, we were looking for plays that weren't there instead of going to the net with it.
And I think we learned a little bit last night - we talked about, we showed lots of clips of Giggy and all the rest of it. But I think the players recognize now that no matter who the goaltender is, you've got to throw pucks there, get traffic and hope that one or two will filter through and you get rewarded.
Q. If McAmmond can go tomorrow night, will you split Kelly and Vermette to fill the spot on the fourth line?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: I may have to do it at times. I don't really want to do that. I really like the pair together. They kill penalties together. They check well. I can play them against I feel any line in the league and they do a responsible job for me. But we don't have a lot of centers.
So that could happen part time at any rate.
Q. The GMs will be meeting tomorrow. And I'm sure one of the topics that comes up is the hits to the head. Do you have an opinion either way? I know there's kind of an old school mentality and a new school mentality about whether they should be eliminated completely?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: Am I old or new school, I'm not sure. (Laughing) There's a difference in size. And I think if it's contact, one guy runs into another and the shoulder happens to hit a guy in the head area, that has to be considered somewhat.
I really think there's such a variety and Chris Pronger is a big guy. Lots of big guys in the league and Mike Comrie and shorter guys. You can't penalize a bigger guy every time he runs into a smaller player. You just can't do that. I think there's an intent of some sort you recognize then you have to get that guy out of the game or be very severe on him.
Q. Back to the Pronger incident, I'm curious, it's Stanley Cup Final, you don't have to send a tape. So I guess are you making some pressure? Are you lobbying?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: Other than to you guys, nobody has asked me a question. The league has not asked me a question. And I'm not lobbying to anybody. I think what I recognize now in the league is that every incident is reviewed. Every goal is reviewed. I think we've really got it down to a real science now.
And I don't think I have to make a call or make a comment really about it. Colin Campbell and his staff recognize what happens in each game and they will act accordingly.
Q. Do you have a sense of exactly what the rule is on kicking or directing a puck into the net with the skate and if so how would you define it?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: It's direct - absolute direct kick in the net. Everything else off your foot, off your leg is clearly a goal.
We've even talked when I was a GM in the meetings that everything that goes in the net is a goal, whether you kick it or not. But then they said deliberate kicking action is one that we shouldn't allow because of the possibility of injury or whatever to the goaltender.
I saw the goal when it went in, it hit him in the foot. He turned his foot. It hit him in the foot but there was no kick until after the puck was already in the net. He had to pick his foot up at that point or tear his knee. He picked up his foot. The puck was already in the net when he did that. There was no argument, I know on all the talk shows there's a pro and con for it, but that's the rule.
Q. Would you like to see it sort of opened to include more or maybe take some of the guess work out of it. We've seen goals of a similar nature, Crosby goal in the first round against you guys?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: He kicked the puck. I watched that - anyway we won't debate. I've got the tape. We pulled the tape out when I heard that comment. He definitely kicked it in at that time. He was against us. (Laughing).
Q. Would you like to see maybe less finesse on those kinds of calls and open it up to that kind of, if it goes in any way it counts as a goal?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: I think the only comment there that kept coming back if you allow the guys to kick the puck in, the goaltender happens to be down, the way we sharpen our skates and something happened like Clint Malarchuk you wouldn't be happy with us or the league. They did as much as they could to allow pucks to go off feet without dragging and absolutely kicking it through the goaltender.
Q. You said it sounded like anything that goes in the net they considered. Does that include things like -
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: No, you can't throw a puck into the net or anything like that.
Q. You talked a little bit about directing pucks to the net. How important was it that the other guys on the ice realize that the pucks were going to get there and a lot of times you had people getting there before the pucks were actually towards that?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: That's the biggest item, is that we had people try to get to the net and they stopped doing it because we weren't shooting the puck. We weren't trying to get traffic there. Anything - any time you get in the offensive zone, there's a stage you have to throw the puck towards the goaltender and reward the person that drives the net for you. I think that was a big, big factor in the game.
PHIL LEGAULT: Thanks, Coach.
Q. Losing Dean for any amount of time and what he's meant during these playoffs?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: That would be tough. He's been, especially this year, he's been playing really well and skating really good. And obviously he's really good on the penalty kill, but he's been creating offensive for the fourth line. So that will be tough for us.
Q. Daniel, was that the loudest you've ever heard it here at the rink and how much of a lift did that give you guys?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: It was a big lift. It's the loudest I've seen this place. We've been sitting in the dressing room before warmup. We could hear them and they were chanting, and they were definitely giving us a lot of energy.
Q. That win, what does it do mentally for this club? I know it puts you 2-1, does it change you mentally in your thought process?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: It's still one game at a time, but it gave us I think not just a win but the way we played to generate a lot more offense than we have. I still think we can be better defensively. But it's nice to see we're going in the right direction and starting to play the game and the solid game we played throughout the playoffs.
Q. When you see some of the guys like Vermette and Kelly and Neil play the kind of game, and Schaefer, that they had, what does that do to the rest of the team?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: I think as a team, we needed to pick it up and certainly played really well, those you mentioned.
And our fourth line was good yesterday. I think our line still can be better. But we were better than we've been. So had everybody going, I think. Everybody was working hard. We made some mistakes at times, but we worked so hard that we overcame it.
Q. Coach talked about head shots three or four from Anaheim delivered to you guys, maybe just from Pronger himself. Are you wishing they started to look at these and start calling them a little more?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: I'm sure they're doing everything they can on the ice. I'm sure the league is looking into what happened to McAmmond as well.
So as a player when you are on the ice, you don't think about it. When somebody does it, it happens, there's nothing you can do. That's why the league looks after those things and they decide how this game should be played.
Q. You talk a lot about the brethren and the respect factor and all that stuff and when it's shots to the head that's something that the league has been kind of looking at trying to get to rid the game of. In this case this is a guy that's done it before several times. I mean do you hope they kind of come hard on him and do something? It's the Stanley Cup Finals. People are wondering maybe he gets a pass here?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: I'm sure everybody is waiting for what's going to happen, if it's going to be a suspension or not or how much. And the league will send a message out I think what is allowed and what's not allowed. So we wait to see what they do and I guess we'll all have our opinions after that.
Q. Ray, I'm wondering what your influence might be on the rest of your team over this year with any fashion style at all. It's a funny question, I know.
RAY EMERY: No, I don't know. Alfy bought the same belt buckle as me a couple weeks ago. So I guess he liked that one (smiling). That's far from my mind right now, I guess.
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: The biggest thing Ray takes it to such a different level when we go we think extreme we feel pretty comfortable. It's pretty nice (laughing).
Q. What kind of lift has Mike Fisher given you guys in the three games so far?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: I think he's been probably our best forward in this series. He thrives on this kind of game, physical, fast paced and he's so strong he's so quick and I think the biggest thing is he has so much energy, he can go back, shift after shift, and play the way he does. It's pretty impressive.
And we all shake our heads at some of the hits he delivers.
Q. Now that you did it, wondering what it was like to be on the ice in a game in Ottawa first time in Stanley Cup Finals, what was that like for you?
RAY EMERY: It was crazy. Even driving in there was traffic for us coming to the game because people were already here going crazy, partying.
I mean you could just feel the energy coming out. We were getting ready. You could hear the crowd chanting already. There were probably, whatever, 14,000 people for warmup or something like that.
So it was just awesome to play in a game like that.
PHIL LEGAULT: Thanks, guys.
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