Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 04/24/07 at 05:30 PM ET
Lou Lamoriello and Zach Parise took part in an NHL tele-conference today-
Q. Lou, looking at the Ottawa Senators, obviously they’re a very different team from the Lightning. What do you see that you’re going to need to do differently as a team in order to succeed in this series?
LOU LAMORIELLO: There’s no question they’re a different team. They’re a deep team. They skate four lines, six defensemen. We’ll get more of our players certainly involved. As you know, the Tampa series, their bench is a lot shorter because of the matching that we do, and we are a matching team. So we see a lot of different players getting more ice time.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about Zach Parise’s development as a player, is he where you thought he would be at this point, or are you a little surprised how quickly he developed?
LOU LAMORIELLO: Well, if you look at Zach’s past, whether it be at North Dakota or the juniors that he did play, the high school he came from, success has always been with him. You know, the World Junior tournament, he was most valuable player. He goes and plays in the rookie All-Star Game this year and scores X number of goals.
For us last year, once the second half of the season came, he was right up there with all our scorers. I don’t think it’s surprising the success he’s having. I think what we’re a little surprised at is the way he can sustain the energy that he does night in and night out without ever taking a night off. I mean, this is one consistent player. Not only because of scoring, just the way he plays defense. I mean, he’s a complete player.
Q. When you look at your total goals during the season, it was among the lowest in the league. When I watched you perform in the first round of the playoffs, your top two lines looked like they could compete with anyone. Was your lack of goal scoring just a byproduct of the way you play defense or is it just because of the injuries? How do you explain the fact you didn’t get as many goals and yet you really do seem to have two strong lines?
LOU LAMORIELLO: Well, I wish I had the answer to why we weren’t scoring goals the way we thought we could. But I think a lot has to do with getting our complete team together. I think that we, no question, had some injuries. But we also had some of our top players not playing to the level they should be playing. Right now they brought their game up to a different level, especially during the playoffs. For us to have success, your top players have to play.
Q. Lou, a little broader picture. Very few upsets this season. Atlanta loses to the Rangers. Nashville-San Jose, three points apart in the regular season. Last year a lot more certainly out west. Any theory as to why the teams that are supposed to be winning in the first round generally speaking won this season ?
LOU LAMORIELLO: I’ve been asked that question a couple times over the last couple days, especially when they reminded us that the second seed last year in both divisions wasn’t playing.
I don’t have any solution or any answer to it. I think if you go over history, sometimes there are different trends. I think last year was maybe a unique year. I don’t know. You look at the flipside right now.
No, I don’t have any words of wisdom on that one.
Q. Your organization hasn’t been nailed by that upset team too often. How come? Do you do something?
LOU LAMORIELLO: First of all, I don’t think there’s any question in any organization the first round is the most difficult for a lot of reasons. A lot has to do with the mind as far as the fear of losing or the idea that you could be upset if you were one that’s favored. Certainly if you’re not favored, you go in there with a different mindset.
I think experience in our situation plays a role in a lot of things. I think you can see that with sometimes first-time teams they go through things, and the next year you have to be careful of those team who did experience it. I think Tampa is a great example of it. Several years ago when they played us, they went on two years later to win the Stanley Cup.
I think experience plays a major role, and not necessarily the team but the players who were there at that given time.
Q. Zach Parise is leading the league in scoring in the post-season. Is that a surprise to you?
LOU LAMORIELLO: That was the first or second question asked.
Q. I apologize .
LOU LAMORIELLO: As I said earlier, if you look at his past, I don’t believe it’s a surprise. I think what in our minds here in our organization, pleasantly surprised, is the way he can sustain the effort he gives night in and night out with the talent he has.
Usually you see non-skilled players compete for 60 minutes. This is a skilled player who competes both offensively and defensively and hounds the puck as well as anybody I’ve ever seen.
I think the way he can sustain that and has sustained it over the season on a consistent basis to me has been our biggest surprise and pleasant surprise.
Q. What has been the difference, in your opinion, from last year’s post-season?
LOU LAMORIELLO: I don’t think there’s any difference in him. He is just now getting more opportunities because he’s creating them himself. Last year I think he was a little hesitant.
It was his first playoff. Didn’t know what to expect. Maybe there was more concern about playing defense, especially in our organization. Right now he’s comfortable with his defense, and his offensive abilities just take off.
Q. What do you think the biggest challenge is for your team against the Senators in shutting them down?
LOU LAMORIELLO: Well, there’s no question, the overall depth of the team. There’s no question you have an elite line in Spezza, Heatley and Alfredsson. But your other lines, especially watching this last series, they’ve done exceptional things. I think Bryan has them playing a team concept. They play hard night in and night out. We’re going to have to do the same.
I think it’s going to be a great series.
Q. Would you expect Madden would draw the job of playing against Spezza? Where you match a guy like Elias’ line?
LOU LAMORIELLO: I guess you answered that question for me.
Q. What do you mean?
LOU LAMORIELLO: That I wasn’t going talk about what our thoughts are.
Q. Looking at the Senators, one thing that seems pretty interesting is their defensive depth is very strong. It’s very rare for the Devils to be going up against a team that has a defense that’s perhaps even better than their own. What is your take on that in terms of trying to counter their defensive strategies?
LOU LAMORIELLO: Well, as I said, their overall balance and completeness is going to be a challenge. They’re a good hockey team. They’re a team that is depth-wise very strong. We’re going to have to be at our best with them.
Q. A question about your defense. Brian Rafalski, is this guy underrated? He really runs the show, is that fair to say, for you guys?
LOU LAMORIELLO: He’s our quarterback on the power play. Certainly logs a lot of ice time and has done it unassumingly. I think a lot has to do with, you know, he played behind certain players before. And also his personality is such that he’s such a team guy you never see him saying anything one way or the other, yet you do see his points are up there each year and you find him in key situations night in and night out. He’s a quality player. You’ve seen him picked on All-Star teams by coaches throughout the last several years.
There’s no question he’s one of our top players.
Q. Is he a guy that maybe was undersized at the beginning of his career, underdrafted, maybe that’s why he started in Europe and came over late?
LOU LAMORIELLO: Well, you know, he was at the University of Wisconsin. He had success there. But, you know, in those earlier days, size and strength played such a role in all of our minds, he went over to Europe and quite frankly we were looking for a certain type of defenseman. We said to our European scouts, Forget who they are, where they’re from, tell us in your mind who is the top defenseman in Europe.
Dan Labraatan called and said, You’re going to be surprised but it’s Brian Rafalski here in Finland. We went from there. He’s been here since.
Q. A lot of your players have said that one of the toughest playoff series they’ve been involved with over the course of this run here is the ‘03 season against Ottawa. In your opinion, how different is this team from that team?
LOU LAMORIELLO: In terms of the Senators? Certainly they’re a different team. They’ve gone through some times where almost, you know, they should have or shouldn’t have or whatever. I think you grow from that. You grow from experience.
I think they’re a different team. They have different players right now. But that was a very, very tough series. That series I can still see Jeff Friesen. I can also see us when we turned the puck over coming back. That was the series for the Stanley Cup in my mind at that given time.
LOU LAMORIELLO: Thank you.
DAVID KEON: With us now we have Devils forward Zach Parise who led the first round with six goals. We’ll go right to questions for Zach.
Q. You’re leading the league obviously with six goals right now. What has been the difference for you this year than from last year’s playoffs?
ZACH PARISE: I mean, I think experience. Any time you can get a year. I think last year it took a few games to settle down, kind of adjust to the pace and everything. As I said all year, I think just the confidence that I’ve had this year with the puck. We found good chemistry with the line with Travis, Jamie and I. Each game seems like we’re getting good scoring opportunities.
Q. Could you talk about your line a little bit more, why your line has been able to gel so far.
ZACH PARISE: I don’t know. It’s just one of those things. We all work hard. I think we play pretty similar. None of us are too flashy. We’re fine chipping it in, going to work, and we seem to respond to each other. I think we think alike. We know where the other one’s going to be without even looking sometimes.
Q. Which of your teammates do you feel like you’ve learned the most from in the last two years? Who has helped you adapt to the level you’re at now?
ZACH PARISE: I think probably Gomez and Gioanta because I sit next to him in the locker room. He’s always helped me out just talking to me, telling me little things, but at the same time I like to watch the way him and Gioanta play.
Gioanta and I are kind of similar with our size and everything. I watched Gio a lot last year, how he was getting all his goals in front of net, trying to pay attention to that.
Going back to Scotty, he’s a really good guy for a kid coming into the league to have. He’s a good guy that will just kind of take you under his wing and help you out.
Q. For a young guy in that locker room, is it ever intimidating with how much experience and success those guys have had?
ZACH PARISE: Yeah, it is. Even to this day, you learn a lot every day. Like you said, the success that they’ve had, you know, sometimes it is kind of intimidating, but at the same time you know that when it gets to crunch time, you know you have the experience in the locker room. Really it’s a good group to learn from when you’re going into these tough playoff series.
Q. When Lou took over for Claude, what was your impression in terms of change in the way you were approaching things on the ice?
ZACH PARISE: We had a lot of the same guys that were there when this happened last year. Obviously it was a shock for everybody. We didn’t know that that was coming. But I think when you have Lou directly behind the bench, I mean, yeah, he can be intimidating sometimes. I think everyone was ready right there to give a little extra if they hadn’t.
Q. What is your take on the Ottawa Senators? Anything that really strikes you about their game?
ZACH PARISE: I thought we matched up pretty well against them. I think it’s in a way kind of similar to Tampa Bay where they have that really good top line, but at the same time they have three other lines that can put the puck in the net.
I think it’s one of those series where you’re going to be matched up against the same line the whole time. You got to outplay that line. I think that’s how the series is going to work.
Q. Your dad must be thrilled with your success over the last six games, obviously through the season as well. Have you had a chance to chat with him throughout the playoffs right now, getting some advice, chatting about your success?
ZACH PARISE: Yeah, I mean, I don’t think there’s anything that he and I haven’t already talked about. It’s not like he was saving anything to say right before playoffs. He’s had some pretty good success in the playoffs, too, with the big goal he scored against the Rangers.
But I talk to him all the time. He’s a good guy to have, that can really—I mean, he’s seen me play enough where he can critique my game and tell me things that he doesn’t feel that I’m doing or the things I should be doing better.
DAVID KEON: Thanks very much, Zach, for your time today.
ZACH PARISE: Thank you.
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