Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Alanah McGinley on 01/07/08 at 08:05 PM ET
Earlier today, Manny Legace was named First Star for the week ending January 6th, after appearing in three games for the Blues and not allowing a goal. He recorded two wins, pushing his record this season to 15-10-2 in 29 appearances. His 2.09 goals-against average is fifth among all NHL goalies. He has a .921 save percentage and his three shutouts this season give him a career total of 21.
Today Legace participated in an NHL conference call. Here is the transcript of the Q&A:
Q. I guess you made a comment about your knee recently that sort of surprised John . But more importantly, have you had any discussions with Andy Murray about work load or is there a plan so as you are battling for a playoff spot you don’t have a repeat of last year where you had to shut it down early?
MANNY LEGACE: No, there has been no discussion. We’ve been pretty smart on practice days, taking time off, just getting prepared for the games. It’s been like that all year. We knew what the knee was, going into the season. It’s nothing new to our organization. You know, it’s just not taking as much pounding after practices and working on skating drills instead, just getting prepared to play games.
Q. Could you talk about the turnaround in St. Louis this year. Sort of sense a change with respect to the fans and excitement around the team?
MANNY LEGACE: Yeah, it obviously started when Andy got here last year, last December, I do believe. It was an instant turnaround. The structure got put into play. You know, just the accountability got taken to another level. He and his whole staff have just been doing a phenomenal job preparing us for every game. That’s been the big turnaround. It’s just carried over to this year. The end of last year, I thought we were one of the better teams in the league. We just unfortunately dug ourselves such big hole at the beginning of the year, we couldn’t climb out of. We made a strong run to get back into it. But it’s just carried over to this year. The work ethic has been there. The guys have just been doing a phenomenal job in front of me.
Q. You’re coming up on a birthday pretty soon.
MANNY LEGACE: Yeah. 35. Getting old (laughter).
Q. You look around the league, and 35 doesn’t seem to be a barrier for goalies. Khabibulin, yourself, Hasek in Detroit, Brodeur in New Jersey. Why do you think goalies are still going so strong?
MANNY LEGACE: Goaltending is more experience, learning the game, learning the situations. In the NHL, the travel, it’s so tough, you know, you’re going from coast-to-coast. Especially when you get down to playoffs, it’s every other night. You’ve just got to learn how to control the game in your own best interest. As you get older, you just learn to forget things, let things go in the past. If you had a bad game, just let it go. If you have a good game, you let it go. You look on to the next day. I think just as the goalies, as they get older, they just get more experience. You start to figure out the game a little bit better.
Q. You mentioned Andy, the difference he’s made in St. Louis. You bring a guy like him in, Then Hitchcock comes into Columbus. The coaching caliber in the division has taken an upgrade.
MANNY LEGACE: Yeah, especially in our whole division. Our whole division took a whole turnaround. We were probably the worst division. Detroit was the only team that was any good in our division. You look around our division now with Chicago, Columbus, Nashville, all those guys are still competitive every night. It’s just been a great turnaround for our whole division. It has to do with our coaching, putting in structure, getting the guys to stay on the same page for a whole season. We struggled at the beginning of last year. Andy came in and put the work ethic that he does. It just shows the rest of our guys what we have to do to prepare every night.
Q. The shutout against Detroit earlier, that must have felt pretty good for you.
MANNY LEGACE: Yeah, it was pretty cool doing it last year at home. To go into that building, where it’s tough to win, period, it was really special. The people there, for the six years I was there, treated me unbelievable. We still have a home there. It was a really special game.
Q. Talk a little bit about the defensive play of St. Louis this year. It’s played a big role in what the goalies have done. Can you just describe what it’s been like having the guys in front of you.
MANNY LEGACE: Yeah, it’s the only reason I’m sitting here on this conference call is because of those guys in front of me. It’s just been phenomenal. I’d like to see where we rank in blocked shots. Our penalty killing is up there. The dedication and hard work that we’ve had all season long, last year at the end of the season, just putting the work load in, you know, it’s everybody coming back, forwards coming back, defensemen have been playing phenomenal. Knock on wood, we’ve been staying healthy, which is a big part of it. It’s been a treat to be standing behind these guys all year long.
Q. Has that been one of the main reasons for the success this year, the health of the team?
MANNY LEGACE: Yeah.
Q. Obviously last year, that wasn’t the case. Has it been because the guys have been healthy?
MANNY LEGACE: It’s a big reason. I think we played with our full defensive corps maybe three or four times last season. This year we’ve done it three or four times without one of them in the lineup. We have a great nucleus of guys on the blueline. It’s been a huge, huge difference.
Q.With the World Juniors just wrapping up…
MANNY LEGACE: It was beautiful. I watched every game (laughter).
Q. I remember you from Niagara Falls, from the Thunder. What stands out most vividly from your experience? Talk about getting the confidence to play against some of the best from other countries who ended up being in the NHL
MANNY LEGACE: The big thing, when I was going to camp in the wintertime, you know, the first thing the coaching staff said to me, the scouts said to me, is, We’re looking for guys to stop the puck. There was big games with Jocelyn Thibault and other guys that were at camp with me. That was the big thing that stuck in my mind. If you look at the team that we had, it was ridiculous, the talent we had. I think the draft the next year, the first nine guys that went in the first round were off our team.
It was just a great experience. We were fortunate enough to win the first six games and wrap it up before we went into that final game.
Q. Manny, what are your plans against us tomorrow? Will we have to put two or three guys in front of you?
MANNY LEGACE: You guys always seem to anyhow (laughter).
Q. What do you expect from the game tomorrow night?
MANNY LEGACE: Your skill level. That’s what I expect. You’ve got Nash, Fedorov, you got guys like that flying around all night long. That’s what really prepares us for you guys, is how talented you are. The goaltending, Leclaire has just been playing phenomenal. It’s going to be a good battle.
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