May 17, 2002
RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA: Practice Day
Q. Have you talked to Sami about not scoring?
JEFF O'NEILL: I don't think that's what I need to do. When you're not scoring, really, from the coaches to your teammates and your friends, everybody telling you different things what to do. So I know from my experience that you're pretty close to telling somebody to shut up even before they talk to you. So I think it's in my best interest to let him work on his offense. He's going to get through this.
Q. The two shots last night that missed the net, do you look at those as missed opportunities?
JEFF O'NEILL: I definitely like his track record against Curtis Joseph. Find that touch around the net, and once he gets a going, he's the kind of guy that will get a lot of goals in a short period of time. Hopefully that's the case for the series.
Q. Is it frustrating, losing the first game like that?
JEFF O'NEILL: I think it's one game into the series. We've obviously got to stay positive. It's a long series. I don't think last night was our best game. Definitely, we just have to regroup and get back to our game on Sunday afternoon.
Q. Do you feel that confident?
JEFF O'NEILL: I think we are still confident. It's just a matter of executing our game plan. I don't think we are as sharp as we could be. A few turnovers here and there, it just wasn't really our style, to the best of our ability. Definitely something that we have to get back to get the puck going inside of the net would be one major improvement, but I thought we had some good possession time. I really don't know, we are going to have to see some tape tomorrow and go over different strategies of what to do. It's definitely an area, that we have to be prepared.
Q. Is it that you have to try to get --
JEFF O'NEILL: Obviously, when a guy has 6,000 assists, you want to get the puck out of his hands. We want the puck in Rod's hands. He makes the plays so we have to go in and battle for it.
Q. Did you expect such a physical game?
JEFF O'NEILL: I don't think so. This is playoff hockey. It's tough hockey and guys are going to finish their checks on people. That's the way it is. It's going to be a war out there and we have to be ready for that.
Q. Two good goalies to get here, how does Joseph compare with the other two you've gotten past?
JEFF O'NEILL: He's obviously in the top three or four in the league, obviously, and his style is a little different than those other two guys. The effectiveness is all the same. He's a great goaltender. He makes saves when he has to. You know, he's a big part of the team, definitely.
Q. What adjustments are you focusing most on practicing today?
JEFF O'NEILL: I think we wanted to stay positive and have a quick practice and just get our legs going and just stay positive for Sunday afternoon. We can't get too down on ourselves. I don't think we were as sharp as we were earlier in the playoffs, but definitely we have to come back and have a better game Sunday afternoon, a better effort.
Q. Seemed to be skating hard today, is that something not just for the conditioning purposes, but since this is a dramatically different team you are facing?
JEFF O'NEILL: This has pretty much been our standard practice around here, but definitely something we need to try to do against Toronto.
Q. You've seen a lot of Toronto the last few years and they have not had a good team defensively, what's the difference in what you've seen with this team last night?
JEFF O'NEILL: I think back when Gilmour was there, they had more of a defensive-minded team and they had that one big line, but they have gone to a more offensive run-and-gun style of play, and it seems to be effective for them. You have to have your system geared towards the players you have. They have a lot of players out, but they have got some great offensive players. They are not really known for a defensive-minded team, but Bryan McCabe, he controls the puck pretty good. You have to get on the body on those guys and create turnovers.
Q. What will you have to do to come back in Game 2?
RON FRANCIS: Certainly we have to find a way to score goals and get some shots past Joseph.
Q. How tough is your part going to have to be in this series, seeing Toronto, quite a different team compared to Montreal?
RON FRANCIS: I think every round is going to be a challenge. Certainly, the farther you get in the playoffs, the more difficult it gets. For us, we have said all season long, to have success, we have to do the things we do well as a team, play our system well and work extremely hard. If we do that, that's our best opportunity to succeed.
Q. Playing such a physical team, is that an adjustment you have to make?
RON FRANCIS: Well, in any playoff game, it's going to be physical and this series is no different. Coming into last night, we had eight or ten great scoring chances. So I think you complain if you're not getting the opportunities. We're getting the opportunities, we've just got to make it happen.
Q. Have you spoken to Sami at all or do you just leave him alone and let him work through it?
RON FRANCIS: I think you try both things. At times you let him have time by himself and other times you try to talk to him and work through it. You just hope that things turn around for him and try to take the weight off his shoulders.
Q. He had a couple of good chances right in a row last night, at some point he almost tried to shoot too hard --
RON FRANCIS: I think the tendency is you want to get it off so quick that sometimes you get a couple of great chances, like in the Montreal series, and you get more time than what you really think. That's just when you want it to happen so bad, sometimes you let that shot go a little too quick, so you want to take that extra second to make sure you get it to go where you want it to go.
Q. How frustrating of a loss was it last night?
ROD BRIND'AMOUR: This is playoff hockey. It's a grind to get your chances and we did have a fair amounts. Obviously, we would like to get the power play a little better about, a couple of those shots go in, it's a different story. We are not going to change our game. We are going to do what we did to get this far, but we have to get to that game. We can't expect it to happen like the Montreal series. It was not easy and we knew it was not going to be the case and it's a grind. And they have never been known as the kind of team that when we get a lead they just sit back. If you notice, when they got the lead they went to 1-4 and didn't let us get through it. And with a couple of their big guys out, they get a lead like that, the tendency may be to sit back, but I think in playoffs that's what happened anyway. They did a good job of blocking shots. We've got to get those through and maybe it's a different story. Again, we're not going to sit here and panic too much. We know we can do a little bit better and hopefully we can bring that to the next game.
Q. Like you say, it's too early to panic, but at the same time, is there a feeling of letting it slip away because of the injuries and because you did have so many chances?
ROD BRIND'AMOUR: To me that's not a real factor. Basically playing three lines, in some respects with the key players out, they did play a little better defensively and they did buckle down. So in a way they are starting to play a lot better as a team right now than they did in the regular season. So I don't really think that's a factor. I think it's more what we have to do, we have to get to the game we can play and we have to find a way to do that.
Q. Going to be a tough series?
ERIK COLE: Absolutely. It's going to be a battle. We just have to come prepared to bring that fight and it's going to be real tight through the neutral zone and down low in front of the net. We are just going to have to battle the guy across from you.
Q. Is there a sense that this one got away from you?
ERIK COLE: I don't think so. We had some chances, like on the first or second shift, Bates was in front and I put it right back in the corner for him. We had chances all night and certainly with the power plays, it disrupted the flow of the game, and had there not been so many penalties it might have been easier to get the four-line rotation going.
End of FastScripts...