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Canucks Day Off: Luongo, Edler, Alberts, Ballard

Canucks Q&A with Roberto Luongo, Alex Edler, Andrew Alberts and Keith Ballard, transcripts.

UPDATE: Alain Vigneault video here, and transcription added at the bottom part of the post.

Q.  Roberto, the last two games have been a struggle for you.  Just wondering what your level of confidence is like and do you expect to play tomorrow night?

ROBERTO LUONGO:  I think if you ask anybody on our crew we’re not happy with the way we played last two games, so I mean, we’re all pretty upset with ourselves and our performances.  So at the end of the day, we’re two wins away from reaching the ultimate goal, so I don’t think it’s a time for us to be putting our heads down or to not have any confidence.

I think we’re close and we want to make sure that we all bring our A game tomorrow night.

Q.  Roberto, so much this year there has been talk about the character of the Canucks and how this team is different than past teams.  Is that being put to the test right now?


ROBERTO LUONGO:  I think it’s always being put to the test, all year we’ve battled through adversity and have been able to rise above it every time.  We’ve been through so much as a team since the beginning of the year, we’ve always found a way to come through it and this is no different.

Obviously the stage is bigger but I think we have the confidence that we believe in the guys we have in this room and that we can get the job done no matter what the circumstances are.

Q.  Roberto, what kind of stock do you put in the concept of momentum in playoff games and do you feel the Bruins have momentum after the last two games?  Do you have to treat tomorrow night’s game as a Game 7?

ROBERTO LUONGO:  I’ll answer the second question first.  Obviously, we do.  We have to treat every game like it’s a Game 7.  It’s important and you don’t want to let any of them slide by.  Momentum is whatever you make out of it, a lot of people would have said after Game 2 that we had all the momentum and they came out in Boston and beat us.

It’s all about being able to, you know, put that stuff behind you and staying focused on the task at hand.  You don’t have to believe in that stuff to realize that if we want to go out there and work hard and play our game, we’ll have our good nights.

Q.  Roberto, not having been through anything like this before, the two games in Boston, what do you draw on personally to get past it?

ROBERTO LUONGO:  Not having been through it?

Q.  Not a similar situation?

ROBERTO LUONGO:  I think I have.  The first round, this is pretty much the same situation.  You know, it’s the Stanley Cup finals, you have to think about the goal here.  Obviously, we lost two games and it’s 2-2, and it’s two out of three, and we have home court advantage.  That’s the way you look at it.  We have a chance to get up 3-2 tomorrow.

You can’t dwell on what’s happened for the last couple of games because that will affect you tomorrow night.  If you’re able to put it behind you and start fresh tomorrow night, you’ll be fine.

Q.  You guys are in the Stanley Cup Final, this is an experience you’ve all worked towards from minor hockey.  After those two losses in Boston, is it easy to come to the rink and be excited, knowing that you still do have an opportunity to win the Stanley Cup?

ALEXANDER EDLER:  Yeah, I think so.  Like Roberto said, we’re not happy with the two games, but it’s 2-2.  We’re back home now and we got to stay positive, look forward to the game tomorrow.  And I know we all are and we are looking forward to that game and want to put our absolute best game out there.

Q.  Roberto, can you talk about how much you guys learned as a team from that Chicago series where you guys were in a similar situation being outscored 12-2?

ROBERTO LUONGO:  You’ve got to use past experiences, that’s what it’s for.  We obviously all remember that series and the ups and downs we went through and the adversity that we faced.  We came in and rose above it at the end of the day and it made the victory so much sweeter.

The same thing applies tonight, we have to come out strong, firing.  The last two games were a bit of a bump in the road for us, but the opportunity is still there for us, nothing has changed from two games ago.

Q.  Roberto, have you been told that you will be playing tomorrow night?

ROBERTO LUONGO:  I don’t know.  Maybe it will be a surprise.  You guys will find out tomorrow night.

Q.  What do you have to do better to get out of your own zone?

ANDREW ALBERTS:  I think we have to get back to the way we played the first two games.  We had a good transition game.  Every time they dumped in, we were right back up to the fours, get the puck up the ice.  We moved the puck crisp and clean out of the zone.  And in Boston, they put more pressure on us.  We weren’t making quick passes and quick plays.  We have to get back to what we were doing in Game 1 and 2.

Q.  Keith, even just one game in a Stanley Cup Final, your first opportunity to play last night, no matter the result, does that do a world of good getting that under your belt preparing for potentially the next two or three games of this series?

KEITH BALLARD:  Yeah, it definitely gave me time to get acclimated a little bit.  I was thrown into the fire not having played in a few weeks, but sometimes that’s the way it goes.

As the game went on, I felt more comfortable out there, more comfortable with the speed and all that.  But the only way you can prepare for something like that is to go through it and experience it.

Q.  Question about Roberto, can the three of you speak to the confidence that your team has in your goaltender?

KEITH BALLARD:  I think our confidence is extremely high.  You look at the season he’s had for us, him and Cory both, and we’re very fortunate to play in front of such great goaltending.  The reason we’re here is because of him and because of his play.  So we never doubted him once and that won’t change.

Q.  Where is the team’s confidence right now?  Boston is very high, two impressive wins for them and two unfortunate losses for you guys.  Where is the team’s confidence right now?  Is it shaken or as high as it’s ever been?

ROBERTO LUONGO:  We’ve said all along, even before the playoffs started, you can’t get high after a win.  You can’t get low after a loss.  That’s the way it goes.  It’s hockey.  It’s the playoffs and stuff happens.

Like I answered before, if you let that affect you, that’s when you’re going to get in trouble.  But if you’re able to wake up the next day, it’s a new day and a fresh start.

Last time I checked, it’s 2-2 in the series.  So I don’t see why we should be depressed or whatever it may be.  We’re in a two-out-of-three Stanley Cup Finals.  So if I was told that before the start of the year, I mean, where do I sign?  That’s the bottom line for us.

Q.  Guys, what’s been the difference?  Home ice, just a huge difference?  And for the defensemen, is the difference going to be “the ice” tomorrow night, when you talk about the transition game with the way the ice was last night?

ANDREW ALBERTS:  I think we’re more of a skilled team and we want to possess the puck and be a puck-possession team.  So the more we have the puck, the better off we are.  So with the fresh ice, I think there is better ice here, we can control the play more, you know.  Boston is a hot building, bad ice all game, but, you know, it’s no excuse.

Hopefully things are better tomorrow night.

Q.  During the season the team prided itself on the ability to walk away from the scrums and the yapping and stay out of that.  Some of that has come back into the game.  Is that something the team is going to have to guard against to try and stay away from tomorrow night and for the rest of the series?

ANDREW ALBERTS:  Yeah, I think it happened in Game 3, we addressed it as a team, and last game we were much better at getting out of the scrums.  It’s not our game.  Boston might want to build on the scrums after the game and get a boost out of that.  We’re trying to play hard between the whistles and that’s when we are at our best, so we will stay out of the scrums and play our game.

UPDATE: Alain Vigneault
     
Q.  Alain, is it safe to say that Roberto Luongo is your starting goalie for game 5, 6, whatever game we’re in?

COACH VIGNEAULT:  You can bet on that, yep.

Q.  Coach, why do you think he has struggled the last two games?  Has it been mostly because of him or has he been not getting the help he needs in front?

COACH VIGNEAULT:  This is not a one-man affair here.  We all know that our whole group can play better, and, you know, will play better in the two games.

In Boston I liked the way we started the game.  For some reason, in the second period they’ve been able to, you know, come at us and capitalize on some of our mistakes.

We’re excited about the opportunity that’s in front of us.  Geez, we are one of the last two teams playing for the Stanley Cup Final, playing with home ice advantage in this great city with these great fans, doesn’t get much better than this.


Q.  Roberto, some of your other top players have struggled in this series, whether it’s Ryan, Henrik.  Can you win the series with those guys not contributing the way they’ve contributed in the past?

COACH VIGNEAULT:  They’re elite players, and if we’ve gotten to where we are today it’s because our top players have been, on most nights, the best players on the ice.  We’re no different than anybody else.  Obviously we need those guys to play up to their standards, and they will.

We faced adversity throughout the season in many shapes and forms.  We are playing against a real strong opponent right now, we’ve got a lot of respect for how the Bruins play and what they bring to the ice surface.

But we’re also a very good team and we’ve proved it in the past and we’re going to set out to prove it tomorrow night.

Q.  A question about your attack on Tim Thomas in terms of getting more quality shots on him from in close.  What can you do to prove that?

COACH VIGNEAULT:  He’s a good goaltender that plays an aggressive style.  We’ve talked about going east and west, maybe using the back of the net a little more, all of the things you say when a goaltender is having success against a team.  You need more pucks to the net, more traffic, better net preference, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.  All those things that you hear coaches say all the time.  And there are a couple of other things that we’re going to address with our team tomorrow, and hopefully it will be beneficial for us tomorrow night.

Q.  Based on the way the last two games have gone, do you feel you have to do the coaching job of your life to turn your team back in the right direction?

COACH VIGNEAULT:  No.  You guys should know, especially people from Vancouver, should know the core group and the strong leadership that we have in that dressing room, the accountability that we have in that dressing room.  Guys aren’t happy with how they’ve played.  They’re aware of it and they’re going to come ready tomorrow and they’re going to live in the moment and seize this opportunity.

This is the hardest thing professionally any one of us has ever done.  It’s a tough trophy to win and Boston is trying real hard to win it.  And we’re trying real hard to win it.


Q.  How much did your group learn from that Chicago series where you were outscored 12-2?

COACH VIGNEAULT:  That’s part of the adversity that any team that has playoff success is going to go through. Boston faced their share of adversity, we faced ours and both teams are going to try and hit it head-on tomorrow night.

Q.  I know in that coaching fraternity you guys lean on each other a lot.  Even though you’ve been on the plane most of the day, have you heard from any of your friends?

COACH VIGNEAULT:  Not from the coaching fraternity, I’ve heard from a lot of friends, but we’re doing a lot of work right now and we’re spending a lot of time in the air, so not much time to talk to my buddies right now.


Q.  Early in the playoffs you got big-time point production from your blue line and that hasn’t been the case so far in this series.  Do you need those guys to come up with a big goal?

COACH VIGNEAULT:  We haven’t had much offense throughout this series, it’s not just from the blue line.  We’re a team that, if you look at how we play and how we’ve played in the regular season and in the playoffs, we’re a good team that can play well both offensively and defensively.  So right now, it’s not a goaltender thing, it’s a team thing.  It’s not just our offensive players.  It’s a team thing.  We all need to execute better.  And if we do that, then we’re going to be in good shape.

Q.  It’s similar to the Chicago series, in that series you didn’t start Roberto.  Can you explain why this dynamic is different?

COACH VIGNEAULT:  I just felt at that time with Chicago there was a special situation, the fact that we had lost twice to them before in the playoffs and felt that we needed to change momentum a little bit.

My gut at that time told me that putting Schneids in was the thing to do.  There is one thing, Roberto is the guy, he’s my guy and he’s playin’.  It’s that simple.

Q.  All year long your team prided itself on playing whistle-to-whistle, not talking to the referees or getting involved in the scrums.  In the last couple of games there has been evidence of those things occurring.  Is that a concern of yours?

COACH VIGNEAULT:  When the game was in reach, we were playing whistle-to-whistle and weren’t getting involved in scrums.  In both games in Boston for whatever reason, when the game was out of reach, emotions ran high and boys will be boys sometimes, you know?  Stuff happens, and stuff happened at the end of the game in both those games.  It is what it is.

Q.  Heading into Game 4, the power play was really close you looked at video—

COACH VIGNEAULT:  I lied (Laughter).

Q.  How do you feel now?

COACH VIGNEAULT:  I’ve got a lot of trust and faith in these guys.  Before this series our power play was 28%.  I think it was one of the best in the playoffs.  The best in the regular season.  These guys have done it all year for us and they’re going to do it again.

Q.  Alain, referring back to the stuff that happened after the end of the game, earlier today Brad Marchand said he regretted doing the handwashing thing at the end of the game.  Is that a minor thing, just one of those things or is it motivation for you guys?

COACH VIGNEAULT:  Last time my counterpart said we don’t tolerate that in our team they went out there and did it a couple times, so I won’t go there.  Just say boys will be boys, and at times it’s emotional out there.  You do things that are sometimes across the line, sometimes on the right side of the line.  It’s just hockey.

No day-to-day question from you guys?  I like that today, you guys are learning (Laughter).

Filed in: playoff hockey, vancouver canucks, | Canucks and Beyond | Permalink
  Tags: alain+vigneault, alex+edler, andrew+alberts, interviews, keith+ballard, roberto+luongo, transcript

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Alanah McGinley has been blogging hockey since 2003 (with a notable gap in time through 2010, kicking it with new baby Lucy while living knee-deep in chaos while reading "parenting for complete idiots" during every spare minute) sharing opinions, rants and not-so-deep thoughts with anyone who will listen.

In addition to writing Canucks & Beyond and helping manage Kukla's Korner, Alanah was one of the founders and co-hosts of The Crazy Canucks Podcast. She has contributed pieces to FoxSports.com and the New York Times Slapshot blog, as well as other stray destinations in cyberspace.

So that's me. Who the hell are you? smile

Email: am@kuklaskorner.com

Alanah's Twitter: [@alanah1]