Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 05/09/07 at 04:51 PM ET
The Sabres players took part in the final pre-series press conference.
Q. Ryan, can you comment on the comparisons to Hockey Town and Buffalo, having known what Detroit is all about and just beyond ?? exciting is beyond anything you’ve ever saw there in?
RYAN MILLER: I got a chance to go to a lot of games but not around the time they were playing for the Cup, but the affiliation with the team and the city and the way they feel about hockey there, yeah, this town definitely is from what I’ve seen, I think this town is actually a little crazier so, it’s been a lot of fun.
Q. Danny, you’ve reached this goal of getting back to the Eastern Conference Finals where you were last year. Your thoughts on where this team is at going forward.
DANIEL BRIERE: What I’m excited about, the way we finish the series against the Rangers. I think everybody agrees that we’ve played well at times before those last two games but we ?? you know, we hadn’t played well to where we’re capable of playing for 60 minutes, I think, and there’s a stretch where we were excellent but there’s other times where we were so?so.
And the way we finished those last two games and the way we took control, game ?? Game 5 over here, I know Chris saved it at the end with seven seconds but if it wasn’t for Lundqvist, it could have been 6, 7?1 by the time it was over. We played a great game.
It kind of rolled over to Game 6. That’s what I’m excited about. Our goal we said it last year, the beginning of the year to get even further than what we did last year so we haven’t reached that yet.
Q. Chris, is there anything where after the second series, you guys know each other, there’s a history there, is there a feed on it that helps you guys get fired up?
CHRIS DRURY: Obviously the games we played of the past few years, I think for me initially it’s Conference Finals. It’s probably enough right there but, you know, certainly if anyone needs extra motivation, it’s probably there.
Q. Chris, what are your feelings on the whole incident with Neil?
CHRIS DRURY: I don’t have any feelings on it. For me, it ended when I stood up, got stitched up, showered up and that was it. I’m just getting ready to get focused forward Game 1 and that takes enough of my attention.
Q. Chris, how are you able to look forward, couldn’t look back at the Neil hit? You’ve probably forgotten for the most part the goal in Game 5.
How are you able to refocus? It’s human nature.
CHRIS DRURY: I don’t think I have a choice. I think as athletes you don’t have a choice. If you get caught looking behind you you’re not going to be ready for the next challenge.
You know, it’s as fun and as exciting as it was Sunday in New York closing out the series. It’s our job to just get mentally and physically ready for game one.
Q. Daniel, were things for you whether it’s being the MVP of the All Star Game or whatever, you’re the focal point? You get criticized no matter how you play or whatever.
Do you accept that, is it harder on you, do you feel more pressure knowing that you’re kind of the person everybody is looking at?
DANIEL BRIERE: Well, if it’s like that, then it’s good, it will leave some of the other guys, get them away from that.
I don’t have a problem. It’s part of taking or improving as a player, I guess, and I knew when I got the award that it was going to be the case and you just got to be ?? you got to be ready to face the music.
There’s games you play well, there’s games you don’t play well and as long as you’re honest with yourself, with what you guys with the public, I think you know, there’s no problems there.
Q. You guys have a hunch on the playoffs, the way it was you start, you think we’re going to have to go through Ottawa to get into the finals?
CHRIS DRURY: You never know. I don’t know. I can’t speak for them but, you know, you just worry about your first opponent. We didn’t know our first opponent until the last shoot?out of the regular season, so we obviously knew they had a great team, very successful year, but, you know, I don’t think anyone looked that far.
Q. As the season is going on and the way the teams seem to match?up, you know, the parallels between the two teams, did you think even as of February or December that you’re going ?? we’re going to have to cross each other’s paths to get to where we want to go?
RYAN MILLER: I don’t think you focus that hard on other teams. We worry about what you want to do. To be quite honest, game day or a couple days before Ottawa or the even of the regular season, once we’re done with them it’s on to the next challenge.
We had no contact with Ottawa for like the last couple of weeks and definitely, you know, I mean they’re a great team but you don’t sit there and say how we’re going to match up and create a whole huge game plan for the entire, you know ?? every scenario you can go through.
You play out your games that are presented to you and you focus and get ready for the playoffs and whoever is in your way, you got to knock them off.
It’s just the way we approach it.
Q. As someone who has kind of had to overcome the stereotype of being the little guy probably since you were in pee?wee, does that still motivate?
Also, what advice do you have for other kids in high school or playing pee?wee hockey, the smallest guys on the team?
DANIEL BRIERE: It’s always been my biggest motivation, the more I hear it, the more you want to prove people wrong.
Advice, you got to believe in yourself. You got to learn from the mistakes you make, you know, growing up and even when you’re a pro, I learned a lot from my first two, three years pro and you’re going to hear all kinds of things about yourself.
You’ve got to make sure you shut that off basically and just go about your business and keep believing in yourself is probably the most important part.
Q. In a story we did you said when you came to Buffalo it smelled like hockey. What did Phoenix smell like when were you is there?
DANIEL BRIERE: It’s been awhile. I haven’t played a game there since I was traded here. I never played or went back to playing in Arizona, so I can’t remember.
Q. Chris, we always ask you about shutting down Heatley and Jagr. Do you think, however, how they’re going to shut you down? We always talk about you in a defensive goal. You continue to score goals.
CHRIS DRURY: It never really comes up. We haven’t even gotten that far for this match?up. I’m sure in the next 24 hours we’ll be talking about that but no, you know, it’s ?? never seems to come up and I know.
Q. What do you think of their guys Chris?
CHRIS DRURY: Pretty talented. Playing great hockey. It’s going to be a good challenge.
Q. Talk about your total focus, yes, you’ve got to check that line but you also expect to contribute offensively, don’t you?
CHRIS DRURY: We want to chip in just like every other line. Some nights you’re able to, some nights you’re not. But I think just as long as our line is active and we’re moving our feet and finishing checks, those are big things we focus on.
Q. Ryan, is it fair to say ?? not to say that you weren’t up to ?? this team wasn’t up to play The Islanders and the Rangers but now that you’re facing the Senators, there’s really no need to get motivated, they get you motivated?
RYAN MILLER: I don’t think it matters that it’s the Senators, personally. I look at this as a challenge because they’re a good hockey team, they have talented players, but so are the Islanders, the Rangers and we have to focus on what we want to accomplish on the ice.
We can’t get caught up in, it’s a title match, it’s a grudge match, whatever boxing terminology everybody has been throwing around, it’s just not it. It’s hockey, we’ve got to play and I’d rather not focus on the fact that there’s ?? it’s Ottawa and take extra motivation.
There’s plenty of motivation at the end of this road. It’s going to take a month of hockey to do it. We’ve got two weeks of hockey committed to the Senators. That’s all we have to do.
Q. Does it help you guys maintain that focus, it seems to be very important to you, the questions are deflected but does it help to focus, lot of people involved at least from your side they probably aren’t going to be on the ice, Stafford, those guys, and Peters, but the fact that kind of take that out, does that diffuse some of the intensity?
CHRIS DRURY: Believe it or not, no one really talks about it. Not to put it on you guys, but we’re not in there talking about it or watching it or thinking about it.
It’s hockey and there’s two weeks of focus. We have to be on our best every second and whether Andrew is in or Andrew is out or Drew is in, Drew is out; you know, no one is really talking about it.
Q. Do any of any of you guys have a thought on how the mentality of your team or the identity of the team is different from what it was before Game 1 in Carolina because you guys were in this same position?
Is it a different kind of feeling in anyway?
DANIEL BRIERE: I think so. I think we’re better prepared than we were last year. I mean last year was a lot of guys, just first time around, we hadn’t been in that position. You know, everybody knows about how the injuries were kind of affected us, where this year we’re coming in, you know, having played two really good games against the Rangers and everybody little bit more experience and very healthy right now, so I think we’re ?? we’re in a good position right now and we feel good about our chances.
Q. Dan, you were able to hit on the power play the last two games against the Rangers, how do you look at the Senators, what you’re going to be up against?
DANIEL BRIERE: To be honest with you, we haven’t looked at their PK unit yet. It’s something that’s going to come up tonight or tomorrow morning in our future meetings.
We haven’t really looked at them. We didn’t play them for the last month of the season so it’s been a little while. I haven’t seen too many of their games in the playoffs, either, so we worked on little bit this morning on what we want to do and move the puck quick and just to kind of keep us, you know, up to date on how to perform on the power play but I think one of the biggest difference for us is the way we were winning battles lately the last couple games and create a lot of positive energy for our team.
Q. Daniel, it seems as if this is a team that will try to skate with you rather than either of your previous opponents.
DANIEL BRIERE: Yeah. It’s hard for me to tell. Like I said, I haven’t seen them. We haven’t had too much tape on them yet, and you know what? For us, I mean we want to control what we can control and by that I mean the way we’re going to play, the way we’re going to be prepared to play, the way we’re going to go out and attack or defend.
We don’t want to spend too much time talking about them and how they’re going to play and what they do and stuff like that.
Q. Dan, can you talk about what it meant when you were named Captain and what you see as your responsibilities as a Captain?
DANIEL BRIERE: Well, obviously it was a pretty big honor, you know, and to have the chance to share it with Chris here, you know, it was something that was very special to me, that there’s no doubt about that.
You know ?? the co?captaincy, I’ve said it about before, I don’t know if it would work on every team or on any other team, but for some reason it’s worked here. I think we compliment each other really well.
That’s my own feeling, you know, and it takes a lot of pressure ?? I know Chris takes a lot of pressure off me and I believe I do the same for him knowing ?? we don’t play the same kind of game.
We don’t have the same role on the team but at the end of the day, you know, we think alike and we agree on pretty much everything so that’s one of the reasons why it made it real easy for us to be together.
Q. What do you see your role in the locker room or being as a go between between the players and the coaching staff?
DANIEL BRIERE: Well, at this point, there’s not much. I mean you know, we have enough leadership in this room. I think at this point you could have anybody wearing a C, it doesn’t really matter.
When you get that far, it’s not because of who is your Captain and who has done what, it’s everybody together, you know. Ryan Miller could be a Captain and we have a lot of guys that could be captain on our team.
So, I mean, we try as much as possible to help in whatever capacity we can but like I said, we’re not the difference.
Q. Ryan, did you step?up your leadership role this year, did you learn something last year how to be a leader and step it up a little more this year, Ryan?
RYAN MILLER: I put some focus on that because how I present myself a certain way to get the reaction out of guys that I need and I try to be as level as possible and as open as possible with the guys.
Felt like of a good rapport with everybody and, further, if I’m going to say something, which isn’t too often, I hope it carries some meaning but other than that, you know, lot of it is ?? you know, lot of guys do pay attention to every little thing the goaltender does.
I have to be cognizant and aware of what’s going on and I just want to carry myself as a professional this year and when there’s been situations, you know, I tried to handle them as best I could.
Q. Chris or Danny, do you guys talk about Lindy Ruff, four Conference Finals in the last 9 years, it seems he can joke at times, he can be serious at times.
Does he ever surprise you and what does he bring to the table?
CHRIS DRURY: He’s pretty consistent day?to?day. Seems like biggest thing I’ve noticed is no matter win or lose, everyday he’s out there, you know, comparing us, mentally and physically.
We could be on a winning streak in the regular season and if we have a tough start to practice, he’ll just end it and let us know it’s not good enough.
His kind of feeling of never been satisfied certainly trickles down to us and I think it’s kind of become a two?way street and we’ve all learned from him never to be satisfied.
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