Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 10/23/06 at 08:09 PM ET
Q. Like you said, with a guy like Chris Pronger in front of you, how much more of a calming influence has Chris been for you compared to maybe how you felt last year with some of the other defensemen around? JOHN SEBASTIEN GIGUERE: You know I was really comfortable with what we had last year. But I think having Chris, you know, probably one of the top three defenseman in the league, and having Niedermayer on our team as well, I think those guys on the ice will have to you know, like one is on the ice and the other one comes on the ice. It's a one two punch, and I mean for a goalie they're great. It's awesome having those guys on my team.
Q. In your first game this year, you guys prevailed 4 3 over LA, and obviously it was the first regular season game as teammate of Chris Pronger’s. And I was wondering if you could describe one of the three blocked shots that Chris had in that game, and maybe how that changed the momentum of the game or maybe saved a goal.
JOHN SEBASTIEN GIGUERE: Well, you know Chris is really tall and big defenseman in front of me. Just uses a lot of room. It’s really hard to get past him and stuff like that.
Anybody that’s trying to go one on one against him, he’s got a long reach and stuff like that. So it’s kinds of the same thing when shots are coming. Being taller than anybody, you can see the puck coming probably easier. It makes my job much easier knowing that he’s there. He can make a lot of saves that I would sometimes be late on.
So it creates a lot of turnover, and a lot of times from that we can just go right on the attack. So a lot of times it can change the momentum of the game.
Q. How is the dressing room different this year? Is the atmosphere any different having Chris around?
JOHN SEBASTIEN GIGUERE: It’s been really good right now. It’s always a good dressing room when things are going well. Chris is bringing a lot of leadership. He’s got tons of experience in this league. I think a guy like that in the dressing room that was already pretty good last year can only improve us.
Q. Like you said, with a guy like Chris Pronger in front of you, how much more of a calming influence has Chris been for you compared to maybe how you felt last year with some of the other defensemen around?
JOHN SEBASTIEN GIGUERE: You know I was really comfortable with what we had last year. But I think having Chris, you know, probably one of the top three defenseman in the league, and having Niedermayer on our team as well, I think those guys on the ice will have to you know, like one is on the ice and the other one comes on the ice.
It’s a one two punch, and I mean for a goalie they’re great. It’s awesome having those guys on my team.
Q. I just wanted to ask you, are you at all surprised at the hot start that you guys are off to?
JOHN SEBASTIEN GIGUERE: Yes and no. I think, you know, last year, especially after Christmas we played really well. And having most of the guys back on our team this year, with some key add additions, and having the same coach and all that, everyone knows what their role is and what the system is and stuff like that.
It makes it easier to be on the same page right off the bat. And I think we’re feeling very good about ourselves and our team and it shows on the ice. I think, you know, we play with lots of confidence, I guess.
Q. Just looking at the way your divi sion is shaping up to be very competitive, have you ever seen a division as good as the Pacific is this year?
JOHN SEBASTIEN GIGUERE: I’ve never played in a division that was this good. You know, San Jose and Dallas, you know, off to a great start as well as us. And then LA works very hard and they’re young team. They work really hard every time we play them.
And then Phoenix may be off to a slow start, but they made some great additions this summer. So I’m sure at some point they’re going to pick it up and be tough to beat. It’s a good division and it’ll be a battle all the way to the end. It makes for fun and interesting games. It should be an interesting battle this year.
Q. Thank you.
JOHN SEBASTIEN GIGUERE: Yeah.
Q. Hey Giggy, you’re going to be playing Edmonton on Wednesday. Obviously one of the players they acquired in the Chris Pronger trade was Joffrey Lupul. I was just wondering of the time you spent with Joffrey, what kind of future did you sort of envision for this guy? Because he kind of really picked things up in the playoffs. Was he one of the young guys you thought had a bright future in this league?
JOHN SEBASTIEN GIGUERE: Definitely very, very bright future. He’s a great guy. Everyone loves Lups. You know, he’s a great teammate, he’s a great guy to have on your team. And then skill wise he’s got a great shot. Really, really hard to read. His wrist shot is really quick, and very accurate and very hard. He can skate. He’ll probably be a 30 goal scorer every year or something like that. I think he’s got a bright future in front of him, and I’m you know, we have Prongs now, but we sure miss Lups as well.
Q. You obviously faced a lot of Lupul in practice. Any tricks you have up your sleeve to try and combat that good shot of his?
JOHN SEBASTIEN GIGUERE: Not really. I’m going to pay attention when he’s there. He has a quick release, so you have to be ready. You can’t get surprised and stuff like that. But, you know, he you just have to read the play as it comes to you. You can’t really anticipate too much.
Q. He’s off to a good start, 5 points in 7 games, so I’m guessing you’re not surprised at such a good adjustment by him, even as a young player. He’s one of those guys that kind of adjust quickly to a team.
JOHN SEBASTIEN GIGUERE: Yeah, I think so. People take him in easily. He’s friendly and he works really hard and stuff like that, so I didn’t see a problem over there. And like I say, he’s one of those guys that will have a good season every year and it won’t be a question.
Q. You’ve got the Oilers coming up on Wednesday. I’m wondering if maybe there will be a little extra bounce in your step after trying to get some revenge for the Wester Conference final last year?
JOHN SEBASTIEN GIGUERE: I think so. For many reasons. I think the Oilers have had our number in the past few years. They’ve beat us more times than we like, and that includes the playoffs. So, you know, it’s going to be a big game for Prongs, and I’m sure we’re going to have to be behind him and make sure that we step up our game for him.
It’s going to be a big game for Lups on the other side. It should be a good and interesting game.
Q. There was one of the games last year you had a little bit of a spat with Ryan Smyth from the Oilers. Talk about what makes him so frustrating to play against as a goaltender.
JOHN SEBASTIEN GIGUERE: He does a good job. He’s a good player. You know, he’s probably the best in the league at being in front of the net. You know, making sure that you don’t see the puck and stuff like that. So I’ve got tons of respect for him. He’s a great player in this league.
Guys that like, you know, a lot of times good players make me mad because they’re good and they get under your skin. That’s part of his game, and I’m sure he’ll be some kind of a test on Wednesday.
Q. In some ways and you’re probably not the right guy to ask this because you’re having a great year but the battles in front of the net that we used see that we don’t in the new NHL, what do you make of guys standing there being able to whack away at pucks and nobody can do anything about it?
JOHN SEBASTIEN GIGUERE: I don’t know. There’s two sides to this: I guess the old people that like the old hockey that used to be. They want to see that. Other people want to see more scoring; they want to make sure that those guys have room in front of the net.
You know, I think the game is more exciting right now to watch and even to play. There’s more action. In past years you get down 2 or 3 nothing and you have no hope to win the game. I like the way the rules are now. Even though we give more goals as a goaltender, I think it’s just a more exciting game.
So I don’t think I would want to see what it used to be like with all the cross checking and stuff like that in front of the net. I believe that skill players should be able to play and do their things, because at the end of the day they’re the ones selling the tickets for us.
It’s probably not a common interest for a goalie, but I think that’s the way it should be.
Q. And with Pronger and now Niedermayer, how much less time have you noticed the puck in your own zone so far?
JOHN SEBASTIEN GIGUERE: Well, you know, it’s great to have those two players on our team, and I think they make us even better. They make you better as players and physically, too. And that aside, those two alone cannot do everything on their own. They need the support of everyone else. So I guess you need the whole team to win no matter what.
So, yes, we’ve had, you know, maybe not an easier time in the zone, but maybe a little less time. But it’s still a hockey game, and we need to work hard to get a result. Those guys are just going to make us a little bit better at the end of the day.
Q. Do you feel as on top of your game as you ever have?
JOHN SEBASTIEN GIGUERE: I feel good. Last year was a year for me I just had hip surgery in the summer, and then that felt like last year I kind of was battling to recover from that surgery all year. It was kind of a tough battle, but this year I was able this summer I was able to work out like everyone else and try to get stronger and faster and stuff like that. So far I feel really good. I feel good in the net, and healthy. And hopefully it’s going to keep going that way.
Q. I think a lot of people looked at your team heading into training camp this year wondering who the No. 1 goalie would be. Your play has sort of lifter you to that role. Could you talk about what that experience was like for you?
JOHN SEBASTIEN GIGUERE: Yeah. I guess you would say so. But I came here you know, this year is a big year for me. Obviously the last year on my contract. Probably going to be free agent at the end of the year. I just came here and tried to do my job and tried to focus one day at a time. I’m not sure what the future holds for me. Take it one day at a time. I try to do my best every day, whether it’s practice are games, just focus on making saves.
I’ve been saying all along that I don’t compete against Bryz. He’s my teammate. So I compete against the puck. I have been saying that all along. That’s who I’m competing against. That’s who my enemy is, I guess.
Q. So it’s been a situation where you and Ilya Bryzgalov get along and it’s comfortable in that regard?
JOHN SEBASTIEN GIGUERE: Yeah. We get along real well. We’re teammates and we want the best for our team, you know. And right now, you know, I might have the upper hand. Maybe in a month from now he will. So I want to take it one day at a time and not worry about anything else.
You know, just do your job every day, and I feel that if I do that as good as I can, then good things will happen to me.
Q. And you will have the right to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year. But can you envision a situation where you are back in Anaheim?
JOHN SEBASTIEN GIGUERE: This would be my first pick. I’ve been saying that all along. I love playing here; I love living here. This team is going to be good for the next, 5 to 10 years. I think we have so many young guys that are tremendous, very talented. And then we have Niedermayer and Pronger for the next 4 or 5 years. So for a goalie you’d be crazy not to want to play here. My wife and I just love it here.
Q. You guys have most of the core of this team back from last year. Couple of the younger guys have a year under their belt. The fast start you guys are off to obviously you got off to a slower start last year. What’s the difference in this team this year compared to at this point last year?
JOHN SEBASTIEN GIGUERE: I think a year under our belt with the coach we have, knowing that everyone knows their role now from last year. Pretty much all the players are back, so we pretty much have the same team.
We all know the system and what the coach expects from us. It’s easier when you come back. You don’t have to learn what the coach is all about and stuff like that. You already know, so you just go and play.
Last year everything was new: New management, new coach, a lot of new players. Took a while to get comfortable. It makes a big difference when you have that kind of I guess everybody the same core as last year.
Q. You touched on this before a bit, but all the guys that have been brought in this year, do you think that people maybe overlooked you coming into this season? And the second part to that question would be: Do you feel like you have something to prove?
JOHN SEBASTIEN GIGUERE: I don’t know what people their perceptions are of me. You know, and I don’t neither do I care. For me, I just want to be as good as I can be, and whatever that’s going to be, I don’t know. But I just want to work hard every day. I want to do my best. I don’t want to have any regrets at the end of the day or at the end of my career that I didn’t work as hard as I could.
So people’s perception don’t really bother me. And what was the second part of the question?
Q. If you had something to prove this season.
JOHN SEBASTIEN GIGUERE: I mean, you know, I think especially early when most teams have two good goaltenders, you pretty much have something to prove every day. Because there’s always somebody looking to take your job. Somebody younger or bigger and faster trying to steal your job and stuff like that. It’s just part of the game.
I think, you know, you should never be comfortable. There as maybe three or four guys in this league that are just there to you know, nobody’s going to steal their spot. For sure nobody’s going to steal their spot.
But for us other guys you have to work hard every day and never be comfortable, I guess.
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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