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May 19, 2010

Michael Leighton


Q. Have you put in a wish list to your teammates in there of what they might want to get you today for your birthday?
MICHAEL LEIGHTON: Just some rest (smiling). No, we had a good day traveling today, and thinking about tomorrow, starting it up.

Q. What's it been like sometimes people are embarrassed and always looking for that chance to prove themselves in whatever circumstances happen, they believe in their heart that they can do it, and it's been up-and-down for you at this point now you're in the Stanley Cup Finals in your head, and you're now a household name. What's this run been like for you the last week or so?
MICHAEL LEIGHTON: Well, obviously, I'm trying to enjoy it. But I don't want to get too far ahead of myself. I haven't really accomplished too much yet. So I think when this is all said and done and the year's over, I think I'll look back on it and might appreciate a lot more.
But after the game, I sit back and think about it a little bit and say, okay, that was good. Now let's look to the next game and stay focused that way.

Q. Might you be getting better with age?
MICHAEL LEIGHTON: I hope so (laughing). No, you know what, when I first came to turn pro, somebody came up to me and said most goalies don't develop until they're 27, 28 years old. So I was hoping it would be sooner for me. I had my chances in the NHL when I was a little bit younger, but here I am 28, today 29, so maybe that was the right age for me. I don't know.

Q. A guy by the name of Jeff Hackett once played in net in Philly, when things didn't go well, he was the kind of guy that would let the team know he didn't appreciate how they were playing in front of him. Your team has not played as well as it could have or should have in this opening periods. You've been under a lot of pressure. Do you say anything to them? Do you want them to come out with maybe a different mindset like they're behind instead of ahead?
MICHAEL LEIGHTON: No, that's the coach's job, I think. Obviously, Lavi came in the period after the first period and kind of gave it to us a little bit and told us that we're not playing well, and we've got to do some things differently.
But for me, my job is to stop the puck. Obviously, you want to be a leader in the locker room. But for me, it's more of I just want the guys to look at me and feel confident in me. I don't think I really have to say anything. I just want to kind of let my actions on the ice show them confidence, and that's how I become a leader in the room.

Q. Can you sense that they need to play with a better sense of desperation in front of you in the beginning of the games?
MICHAEL LEIGHTON: Well, obviously, they came out hard. We knew they were going to come out a lot harder. For some reason we still played reasonably well defensively. We didn't give up odd man rushes, breakaways. It's just they were getting one and two chances right in a row, and they had a couple of power plays.
So we know we can play better, but we're still playing well defensively. Even the first game, some people said we didn't play well. But we didn't really give up a lot defensively. So maybe it's the neutral zone and the offensive zone that we think we need to get more action towards Halak and get more action at their net.
But our power play's been clicking, and so far I think that's been the difference in the series.

Q. With all the attention that's been drawn toward you with this fantastic streak, how do you try to maintain your even keel, your routine, and try -- I mean, it's human nature not to start thinking about it.
MICHAEL LEIGHTON: Well, I think it was after the Boston game, the Game 7, I traveled home, and the next morning I woke up and me and my wife were sitting there talking about it a little bit. The conversation kind of stopped and I was staring at the wall and she looked at me and said stop. Stop thinking about it, and she was right.
You can't sit there and think about what's going to happen or what you think is going to happen or what you want to happen. We're just, for me, I'm taking it game by game. We're up 2-0. To me it's still 0-0. Game 3 is the most important game for me right now. Obviously, Game 7 in the Boston series was probably the biggest game of my career.
But for me I go, right now, Game 3 is right up there. If we win that it gives us a good advantage, if we lose, then we're right back just up one game. It's a big game, and I'm just trying to take it one by one.

Q. Do you consider your being waived in Carolina maybe a blessing in disguise? I'm sure it was pretty rough when Rutherford called you in the office and told you about that?
MICHAEL LEIGHTON: Definitely. Obviously, either playing in Albany or just sitting in the stands the rest of Carolina wouldn't have done much for me. I'm happy the way things went. I thank Holmgren for picking me up and giving me the opportunity, and obviously, Peter Laviolette for giving me the opportunity to play. That was a big thing for me this year.
I kind of got in through injuries. There were a few injuries that gave me the opportunity to play. Sometimes that's what it takes for a goalie to show what he's got and get hot, and that's kind of what happened this year. There were a few injuries. I got an opportunity to play, and it worked out well for me.

Q. What are you expecting tonight -- where you taking them tonight for your birthday?
MICHAEL LEIGHTON: Where am I what?

Q. Where you taking them?
MICHAEL LEIGHTON: Just out for dinner. Same routine as normal. Nothing crazy.

Q. You're picking up the tab, right?
MICHAEL LEIGHTON: No, no, they should be buying me dinner.

End of FastScripts

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