Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Alanah McGinley on 05/09/08 at 03:09 PM ET
From a press conference Q&A session featuring Philadelphia Flyers players Daniel Briere, R.J. Umberger, and Martin Biron.
Q. Danny, the way you’ve played this season and, the way the team has played overall this season, does this further validate your decision to leave the Sabres and go to the Flyers?
DANIEL BRIERE: You know what, when I was looking at my options, obviously looking at Philly, you know, very similar as far as offense, where it’s a team that doesn’t just rely on one or two guys or on just one line. We’ve seen it through the year. Everybody’s chipping in.
There’s many guys that can hurt you offensively. You know, I’ve had my ups and downs during the season. I was the first one to admit it. But going down the stretch and into the playoffs things are going well. I’m hoping that we’ll be able to keep going on.
But, obviously, just we had in the Montreal series, especially, we need different lines to step up or one guy to step up like he did against Montreal.
Q. R.J., I know you’ve probably got asked this a million times. But what does it mean to come back here, and come back home in this type of game, this type of atmosphere?
R.J. UMBERGER: First of all, I mean, just for us to be playing in the Conference Final is a thrill for all of us and a great, great time. We’re all excited for that. And to come in here for me, I grew up watching all of these games here, and when they won the two Stanley Cups and the atmosphere was just crazy and electric, and to go out there and now be a part of that it’s on one of the biggest stages of the year right now, and it’s just going to be tons of fun for all of us.
Q. Marty, yesterday, I know R.J. made a comment he wasn’t sure how much better he could play than he did in the Montreal series. My question to you is your play has risen substantially since February and in each of these series we’ve seen it go to another level, how much better can you be? Do you feel you’re at the position now where it’s more technical if anything?
MARTIN BIRON: Well, there’s a lot of things that have come into play. But I think the way we have played as a team really helped me raise my level of play. Made them the right reads, be in the right position, not have to worry about too many options or too many plays in our zones. So I think that as our game gets better every series our defensive game has gotten better, and I think that’s how my play gets better, too.
I mean, there are going to be some break downs. We all are aware of that. And sometimes I’ve had good positioning sometimes I’ve had pure luck, but that’s part of it. But technically, I think when the team is playing good defensively, it helps me raise my game up a level.
Q. Daniel, you’ve been playing in the playoffs. I wonder if the talk before this series is different than maybe what you’ve seen in other series in terms of what might happen? And whether you think it maybe plays to the Flyers’ strengths to have a lot of discussion about the kind of series it might be and the physicality and all that kind of stuff?
DANIEL BRIERE: Well, you get to this point, you know, every team is on a roll at this point. Every team or the last four teams playing are feeling good about themselves. You know, you get to this point you’re not going to find a team who is not comfortable right now.
It’s tough to get to this point, but I mean, you have to find a way, you have to find a way to get it done to keep fighting through. Hopefully, I mean, I’m not the only one. We have a lot of guys that have been through it that have won Stanley Cups as well. So hopefully, we can help, and maybe help prepare the rest of the guys to what we’re going to face now starting for this series and hopefully moving on.
Q. Have you seen in playoff hockey, have you seen a player get as hot as your teammate in a series? And what do you think it’s been that’s allowed him to have so much success in the playoffs?
DANIEL BRIERE: No, I’ve never played with a player that was as hot as R.J. was against Montreal. And when you’re in a zone like that and everything seems to be working for you, what you try to do is you try to take the puck to the net as much as possible. You try to throw on the net, and that’s exactly what he’s doing.
He knows things are working out for him, and it would be easy just to kind of sit back and let things happen for him. But what he did against Montreal is he kept attacking the net. He kept going. He kept throwing the puck there, and the puck was finding the holes for him.
So when you’re in the zone like that, you just keep doing the same thing. Because sometimes we have a tendency to kind of sit back and think that things are just going to keep happening for us.
Q. R.J., I had a chance ask others about the games between the Phantoms and Baby Penguins. They said the one thing that stood out is usually the teams had three fights as soon as the puck got dropped and then you’d play the hockey game. What do you remember from those old match-ups?
R.J. UMBERGER: Yeah, that’s pretty correct. I think they were pretty intense. You had a couple of guys on the team that could fight in each. And even in the playoffs there, fighting was still a part of it. And the battles were so hard. So just in their face.
The rivalry started a few years back for a lot of us young guys playing against each other. It’s been a few times now, so.
Yeah, it’s crazy the way it goes. It’s a lot of in?your?face, lot of trash talking and some fights. So it should be fun.
Q. At the end of last season, the Flyers were in kind of tough shape a lot of people thought. And I just wondered what went into your decision to come, because I think you wanted to be in a position to win right away, aside from persuasion from your friend Marty over there?
DANIEL BRIERE: Well, you look at the team, and I had the chance to play against most of the guys two years ago in the playoffs. I know last year was an off year for a lot of guys on the team. But you can’t just look at the record. You’ve got to look at the players. Some of the young guys that I had a chance to play against the past couple of years really impressed me. Obviously, I liked what Paul Holmgren was doing with the team. The trades and signings on that day and just a few days before. I just thought the team was on the rise. I like the character of the players on the team and where it was going.
Q. Somebody walked up to you on the street and said to you, Marty Biron, what is your best moment on the ice and why? How would you answer?
MARTIN BIRON: Well, when the clock goes back to zero and you’re ahead at goal at least, that’s usually the best moment. But funny enough for me a lot of times there are spectacular saves, there’s diving saves and all of that. The best moments for me are when things are made to look easy. When the puck just seems to find me right in the chest or in the pants or, you know, there are no rebounds. There are no second chances. You know, nobody really says too much about those saves. You can just fast forward past through them. Those are the ones I look the most at and that’s how I want to face my game. That’s how I feel comfortable, and how I remember my games when I can do that.
Q. R.J., go back to that rivalry and the old days in the minor’s. Can you remember the coaches getting after it with the trash talking that’s going on?
R.J. UMBERGER: Yeah, it’s always heated between the two of them. They’re pretty competitive. It probably goes back before I got there. They played each other in the playoffs. It’s always been intense. And I think, it will probably stay intense this year. This is probably something where they both take personally against each other.
Q. A year ago things were quite different for you. What’s it like to come back here to Pittsburgh, not just to come back to play, but considering what the team did last season and where you are and where the team is this season, just that year process for you?
R.J. UMBERGER: Yeah, that’s what it’s about. How we responded to it coming back, and being a better team and competing. Last year was tough, of course the whole year and especially against the Penguins losing all eight. So it definitely fueled some of our fire this year. When we played the Penguins we tried to bring out our best game with us. But for me, coming back here, it’s always fun. It’s always a good time. Recently I’ve been getting booed, so that’s fun.
I don’t know. For my family to be able to watch me, it’s something special. They’ve gone through it a lot and sacrificed a lot. For them to enjoy the moment of me being on the ice there, it is something special.
Q. What has the ticket request been like from friends and family, have you been able to accommodate them all?
R.J. UMBERGER: Well, it’s been pretty standard, you know, same people. It’s family first. You know, some close friends, really. They’re the ones that need to be at the game. The rest of the people, they will find their ways. I think a lot of them have been pretty good in respecting the time here for me in the playoffs to stay focused and concentrate. It’s not like a regular season game where I have to worry about all of that. It’s time to just worry about what’s going on here.
Q. Do these teams really hate each other as much as everyone thinks they do?
R.J. UMBERGER: I think it’s on the ice we hate each other more. Great players on both teams battling hard every night, we all want to win. What it is, is we play each other eight times. If you want to be on top of your division or win a Stanley Cup, you’ve pretty much got to go through each other you can’t hide from each other.
Q. Danny, given the intense nature of the rivalry as a player, especially someone who is going to get a lot of defensive attention from the Penguins, how do you draw that line between showing emotion and passion and letting it get the best of you?
DANIEL BRIERE: I’ve been saying it for the past week. I think that’s going to be a key in this series. The team that’s going to be able to walk that line, that imaginary line without crossing it too often has probably a better chance of winning. That’s going to be very important.
We all know having faced them so many times that their emotions are going to be there and it’s going to be a tough series. But it’s really something that we have to be careful with. Staying in control, control of our emotion to be successful. And I’m sure they’re going to say the same thing on their side.
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