June 11, 2002
DETROIT, MICHIGAN: Practice Day
Q. Was it difficult getting through the neutral zone last night? Did that affect your cycle game down low at all?
ERIK COLE: I think that obviously it has been a tight checking game throughout three zones and first getting in on the forecheck and trying to establish some possession time down there, it has been tough. Hasek is out of his net quite a bit playing the puck, and it's tough because you have to stay away from him otherwise you will draw a penalty. He's done a good job of getting -- even if we do get a cycle it goes down behind the net, he's out there throwing picks and moving the puck along, so obviously it's tough. But it's part of the game and we're just going to have to keep fighting our way through it.
Q. How hard is it going to be to get recharged emotionally going into this game knowing that it could be your last and that if you are not ready emotionally, it could be kind of ugly out there with (inaudible) --
GLEN WESLEY: I think the biggest thing is we have been through this before in the last few years. In the New Jersey series, being down 3-0. And it's really a mindset that you really have to take one game at a time, that's the old cliche. But I think obviously mentally we're going to have to play our best game of the series. In order to do that, we're -- we had a meeting today and realized what we have to do. We have just got to go into Detroit and really play the best game of the series. We realize that as a group. And if we don't, then obviously we're going to be coming back. And don't feel uncomfortable about going on the road and that we can do this. We have done that before and we feel very comfortable playing on the road as a group and there's no reason why we can't do that Thursday night.
Q. Regardless of the outcome on Thursday, what do you think this Playoff will do for this franchise in terms of awareness and season tickets and so on?
GLEN WESLEY: Well, to be honest I think we have got the best fans in the League and I think they have shown that throughout the whole Playoffs. For us as players, to be able to sit on the bench, it has been an incredible experience. Being out in the public has been an awesome feeling just to be surrounded with what has happened and what has gone on over the past couple of months. It's been a great experience, a great feeling, and obviously we want to keep this thing going. And, you know, for the fans' support that we have, we're going to continue to grow and continue to get better and, you know, we have a great fan base. Hopefully it will continue to grow and get better and better year by year.
Q. You guys mentioned the New Jersey series. It's been and a pattern for you guys the last two, three years that when you guys are your most desperate, you win. December of this year, the New Jersey series and even the Montreal series. Talk about why that's so and what do you think will happen on Thursday when nobody really gives you a chance?
BATES BATAGLIA: I think that most of that, that character, comes -- you know, we're not going to lay down for anybody; doesn't matter what the situation is. I think we played our best hockey when our backs are against the wall. I don't think that should be any different.
GLEN WESLEY: We have a tremendous amount of character in the locker room. We're just not going to lay down and die. We realize the position that we're in right now, and it's not the best scenario, but we know if we take it a step at a time, we work at it and we don't want to look any further. But we know if we take it a game at a time and play a game in Detroit and bring it back here, you know -- you can never say never. And really that's the scenario and the feeling that we have to create going into Game 5. We can't watch anything pass.
Q. You mentioned the team meeting. What was the mood of the team in the meeting?
GLEN WESLEY: Obviously we have got to stay positive. There's some things we're going to have to make adjustments to and we have got to start scoring some goals. We know we can play better defense. We had a couple of breakdowns that we had, and those are easily correctable. We are going to look at some of those things. And bottom line is, create more offense. They did a tremendous job in the neutral zone on us and taking away a lot of our speed action. And in order for us to forecheck, we have got to be getting there with a lot of speed. That's where our forecheck and cycle game is created. That's where we create a lot of havoc and create a lot of offensive opportunities. That's one of the things we have got to make adjustments for. There's no reason why we can't do it. We have done it in the past, and we'll make those minor adjustments and make ourselves better prepared for Thursday.
Q. Is there a fear that being down 3-1 you try to open up, that that might leave you open for more mistakes, that sort of thing? Is it a thing now where you can't change much of that approach, or do you do it just getting --
ERIK COLE: I think there's a little bit of frustration to score goals. Maybe we weren't as sharp defensively as we needed to be. I think that heading into Game 5 it been addressed and it now it's time for us to refocus. Everything needs to start from our "D" and we need to play a much tighter game and we'll generate our chances when they come. But everything has to start from our "D" zone and we'll work ourselves out in there.
Q. Do you think there's a chance that that will be a factor tomorrow night the way he took a hit?
GLEN WESLEY: He has seen better days, but he's a warrior and he's going to be able to bounce back. But I really don't think that's going to affect him at all. Everybody goes through facial injuries. Or the type of injuries you go through this year, obviously you battle through them because this is one of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that may never come around again. And we realize that as players. And the opportunity that we have worked hard, and worked hard for it (inaudible) and that's what -- we are going with the mindset of going in and worrying about a 60-minute game, and that is all we're going to look at. We're not going to look any further and look at anything else.
Q. Some of the guys in that room the other day said that they watched you on tape and stuff before the series. They were kind of taken aback by how tight things were in Game 1 (inaudible) ---
ERIK COLE: Obviously they made some adjustments with their system, and I think that just maybe frustrated us a little bit more. I think Arturs had a great Game 1. But if you look at the last three games really, heading into the third period, all three games have been tight and we have been right there, but it's just a few breakdowns, we need to correct and take a look at it on video. But Detroit is the type of team, they have that kind of offense, a simple mistake and it's in the back of your net. Like I said, we're going to button down defensively and go into Game 5 with a good focus.
Q. Is that going to continue to happen next game with the lines or will the lines be back intact?
BATES BATAGLIA: As the game went on, I think we came closer to getting back to the normal lines that we had before, but -- and then regardless, played the same way. Obviously I have no idea when that's going to happen and when it does we'll just play the same way.
ERIK COLE: I don't think our coaching staff needs to justify any changes that they make to us. They have done a great job coming up with combinations out there, so, we'll continue to make changes as they see fit, and just it is up to us to go out there and play.
Q. Does the fear of losing or the fear of losing by a big margin, can that play a role in motivation for Game 6 or Game 5?
GLEN WESLEY: I really don't honestly think so. We realize the firepower that Detroit has and the type of offense that they bring to the game. They can really send out any four lines that can really score. The margin of error is so small that you know, the mistakes that we're making are very really minimal, but the bottom line is we have got to find a way to score. We have got to find a way to score some goals, and for that, we have to play better defensively and don't give them those opportunities to open up that game. If we change the style of the way we play obviously that's where we're going to get burned and we're going to get hurt. That's what really happened when they scored their third goal and really put the game away and sealed it up. But we're not going to change a whole lot. We know the margin is very minimal and we are going to come out and be ready to play the best game of the series. That's our mindset.
Q. I realize it's a different team and a different scenario, but do you get the sense that last year you had the same mentality that you had when you were down 3-0 to New Jersey when it didn't look like -- it looked like it was over and you get that -- you guys did come back and win two games and -- (inaudible) ---
GLEN WESLEY: That's our mindset right now, and as I said earlier, we have got to take it 20 minutes at a time, and we have got to look at it through the first period and so forth and move on, and that's really all we can worry about. We can't do anything past what is going to happen in Detroit and if we focus on what we're going to do Thursday night, it is a great opportunity for us to come back here Saturday night. And that's really all we can prepare for and we are going to look to do our best and play our best game Thursday night.
Q. I know that you were teammates, you and Ron Francis with Steve Chaisson and I wonder if you two or any of the Detroit Red Wings have played with him have talked about how much you kind of wish he was here to experience this great Stanley Cup Final?
GLEN WESLEY: That's a very difficult question to really talk about now. Obviously it's an unfortunate incident in really what happened a few years ago and he was obviously a big part of this hockey club, but really right now our focus and our mindset has to be on what we're ready to accomplish Thursday night, and that's -- you know, everybody walks by that picture all the time and realizes he was a part of this hockey club and a big part of this hockey club. I think the biggest thing is time heals wounds and we have to move on now and realize the task at hand. We're ready for it and prepare for Thursday.
End of FastScripts...