Canucks and Beyond
by Alanah McGinley on 05/15/11 at 04:05 AM ET
From the pre-series Q&A with Canucks players Ryan Kesler, Dan Hamhuis, Christian Ehrhoff, Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin. Below is the complete transcript.
Q. You talk about how you know that there’s pressure, you’ve mentioned it before. It’s almost a situation where you seem to really like it. How much different is the pressure in the third round compared to the second round to the regular season?
HENRIK SEDIN: Not a whole lot different. It’s never going to change. It’s always going to be the same. Either you like it and you enjoy playing under pressure or you’re moving out of there. That’s the way it is. We really enjoy playing where people care. There’s a lot of attention on the team, so that’s not a problem for us.
DANIEL SEDIN: I agree. You either embrace it, or like Henrik said, you choose not to play in a Canadian city or in the NHL. You have to like playing under pressure. Things go bad, things go good, you have to stay the same. That’s the number one thing.
Q. To all three of you. Having got over the second round hurdles for this team, does that change the feel around the team and the town for you?
ROBERTO LUONGO: I don’t know about the town. I’m sure everybody is excited. I’m sure I can speak for everybody and myself, we’re just excited right now to be in the conference final. I think it’s a first for many of us and we’re looking forward to the challenge. It’s a great opportunity ahead of us. Just excited to get the series going tomorrow.
DANIEL SEDIN: I agree. We’ve never been this far, a lot of us in this group. It’s going to be a lot of fun. You have to enjoy the situation, just relax and play the game. It’s still only hockey.
Q. Henrik, you expect to see Thornton? If you do see him, what’s the challenges of playing against a guy like that?
HENRIK SEDIN: I don’t know the plan. We’ll see what happens. He’s a big guy, really strong. Likes to score. He’s one of the best in the league. He can make plays. You have to be careful when you run up against him. At the same time they got a lot of offensive guys that can hurt you. You have to focus on not only him, but a lot of the guys.
Q. Daniel, you faced Antti before. As a goaltender, what challenge does he present to a shooter?
DANIEL SEDIN: I’m not so sure, but I think overall he doesn’t really have any weaknesses. Still to lose a playoff round. You have to respect that. Overall a solid goaltender who obviously wins some games.
Q. Daniel and Henrik, given the offensive output that Ryan Kesler had in the last series, obviously San Jose is aware of that, they’re going to have to look at trying to shut him down, do you think that can potentially open up some opportunities for your line?
HENRIK SEDIN: We’ll see. Like I said, I don’t know if they really have that shut-down pair. I think they’re more of a team that’s going to roll their lines, roll their D’s. We’re the same kind of team.
We’ll see what happens. We’ve been through this every year throughout the regular season, throughout the playoffs. It’s one of those things where some guys are not scoring as much and other guys are stepping up. We’ve done a good job of that all year.
Q. Henrik, these are two teams that have not been to the Stanley Cup, San Jose never, you not for a long time. Any comparables here?
HENRIK SEDIN: Well, I think they’ve had a top team for a number of years. I mean, we have never felt this good about our team in a long time. So for us, this is maybe the first year where we thought we’re a contender really before it started.
We’ve never been this far, neither one of us. They went to the Conference Finals last year, so they’ve been here. We both want to get to the next step, and that’s to play in the finals. There might be some comparisons, yes.
Q. Henrik and Daniel, a lot of people were writing about you in the last round. Is it a fresh start for you in the third round, Roberto?
HENRIK SEDIN: I think every game is a fresh start in the playoffs. It’s a thing where you have to move on. You look at the next game as a chance to make a difference. This is the way we look at it. Always a chance to go out there next shift, next game, make a difference, and that’s not going to change just because it’s a new series.
Q. I might get different answers from you two. The way this series sets up, the idea it might be a little bit more pace, certainly higher pace, maybe more entertaining, exciting to watch. From a player’s point of view, does it set up as looking like it’s more fun to play?
DANIEL SEDIN: It’s always fun playing in the playoffs. I mean, it’s the Conference Finals. It’s going to be extremely tough games. Everyone keeps saying that Nashville plays tight defensively. I think San Jose is equally as good defensively. They probably have more firepower up front. It’s going to be a tough series, equally as tight. That’s the way we look at it.
ROBERTO LUONGO: When we’re playing the game, we’re not playing saying, this is boring. We’re enjoying ourselves. They’re intense games. We know every little detail can make a difference.
It’s the same thing, doesn’t matter who we play, we want to make sure we’re playing good defensively and take advantage of their mistakes.
Q. The five days off, how do you think that will affect the start tomorrow night?
DANIEL SEDIN: I think that was really good for us to get some rest. We got a few good days of practice. I think come tomorrow we’ll all be ready to go. We’ve been looking forward to this a long time. We’ll be ready.
Q. Is it as much mental as it is physical at this time of the season, getting back to doing things like your families and things like that that maybe people forget about?
ROBERTO LUONGO: Obviously, in the playoffs you want to be focused on hockey as much as you can, especially when you’re in the middle of a series. The fact we had a few days, especially early in the week where we didn’t practice, made us get away from the game a little bit and think about other things, come back a bit more reenergized, refreshed and ready to go once we started practicing again.
Q. Ryan, this would be a very tough act for you to follow. Is there anything carrying forward? Do you completely forget about how you played against Nashville?
RYAN KESLER: I think you just got to continue getting better. You forget about the past and you focus on San Jose. We did a good job of that after we probably won the most emotional, important series of the guys that played here in years past, beating Chicago in seven. I thought we did a good job of moving on and focusing on Nashville.
I don’t see any way different. We need to move on. Me personally, I need to move on and continue getting better.
Q. You didn’t necessarily face an elite center in the last round. You may this time. Do you change your approach at all?
RYAN KESLER: No. For me, it’s going to be playing the same way. Obviously, from Chicago to Nashville, I played the same way, but I just got a lot more scoring chances, a lot more opportunities.
I’m going to continue to play the same way, put the same game on the ice. For me it’s going to be a matter of getting those scoring chances and bearing down when I get them.
Q. What were your perceptions of the Canucks’ defense before you came here?
DAN HAMHUIS: I knew they had quite a bit of depth here. When I signed, Ballard was added to the lineup, as well. I wasn’t sure what they were going to do with Willie Mitchell at the time. He was still up in the air. Guys could play a lot of different roles on the back end. We were pretty deep. Didn’t know too much more than that.
Q. Pretty deep on the blueline?
DAN HAMHUIS: There’s a lot of factors that I considered with free agency this summer. Obviously to get to a position like this was a huge one. Then, of course, you look at the role you might have on the team, the defense core. There’s the city, a lot of factors.
Everything looked like it would be a really good fit.
Q. You played junior with Derek Boogaard. What do you remember about him?
DAN HAMHUIS: It was kind of shocking. I saw that last night on the Internet. Played with him two or three years in junior. Certainly really sad. He was a really good guy. Pretty quiet. But he played a difficult role, being a fighter. Him and I were pretty good friends in juniors. Certainly sad to see that happen.
Q. Dan, as a British Columbian in this series, do you have a sense of how this plays in small town British Columbia, what’s going on? Smithers?
DAN HAMHUIS: Pretty much focusing on what we have to do day to day, in the moment. Certainly enough of a challenge. Talking with some friends the last couple days, actually showed me a couple clips on YouTube of some mini parades they’ve been having in some of the small towns up there.
I knew it all along. Growing up, it’s huge support for this team throughout this province, especially in the small northern communities. It’s great to be on the home team now.
Q. For both the defensemen, the best forwards on the San Jose team are about six inches higher than the best defensemen on the Nashville team, probably play more of a power game. How does that change for you two?
DAN HAMHUIS: They still got a lot of speed and skill. Got to do the best job we can to take away their time and space. Going to be a group effort. We’re going to need a lot of help from our forwards, especially our center men, to stop these guys.
CHRISTIAN EHRHOFF: I agree with Dan. We got to try to play them as tight as possible, limit their time and space. Obviously they’re great players and they’re going to get some scoring chances. We got to try to keep that to a minimum.
Q. Treatment of Luongo…
RYAN KESLER: I think that was a little unfair. A couple games where he got pulled, we didn’t play well. He’s been strong, our backbone. He’s having fun, confident with his game. We’re confident he’s going to be there for us this round.
Q. Ryan, the attitude and the atmosphere change around here now that you have got over that second-round hurdle, the Chicago hurdle? The feeling within the group and outside, have you noticed anything in the past week that’s different and more positive?
RYAN KESLER: Well, you guys were pretty negative yesterday (laughter).
You know, the goal in the dressing room isn’t to win and make it to the Conference Finals. We have a bigger goal in mind. We still put a lot of pressure on ourselves and expect a lot from each other inside that dressing room.
Outside, we really don’t care what people think or say about us. That’s outside influences that we’re not focused on right now. We’re focused on this series and focusing one game at a time. We’re focused on the San Jose Sharks right now.
Q. Ryan, you played against Antti Niemi last year in the playoffs, a lot this season as well. Your thoughts on him as a goalie? 6-0 in the playoff series. What do you think about him?
RYAN KESLER: I think he doesn’t get enough credit. He’s a very good goalie. We’re going to have to play him like we played Rinne. We’re going to have to get traffic in front of him. Our D are going to need to get their shots through. We need forwards getting second and third opportunities. That’s the way we’re going to have to play this.
Q. Christian, two part questions. Thoughts about going up against your old team? From your view, why has it taken them so long to get over the hump in the playoffs?
CHRISTIAN EHRHOFF: For me personally, it doesn’t really make a difference. Being in the Conference Finals is huge. If we play Detroit or San Jose, it doesn’t make it any bigger for me.
The second part, I’m not really concerned anymore with how they got there. I’m just worried about my team.
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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.
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Alanah's Twitter: [@alanah1]