Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 04/24/07 at 02:20 PM ET
Lindy Ruff and Daniel Briere took part in an NHL tele-conference today…
Q. Both teams had quick series. How was the layoff for the Buffalo Sabres? How did you deal with it?
LINDY RUFF: Well, we took one day off. We took the Saturday, anticipating the series may start as early as Wednesday. We had a light day on Sunday, two good practices leading into Wednesday. It worked out that we anticipated playing Wednesday.
Q. When I looked at the stats, it’s been a while since you met the Rangers. I guess you were all involved in games early on in the year, three of those in overtime, one shutout. We all know that a four-game series can be close. What do you expect from the Rangers?
LINDY RUFF: Well, I expect them, as they played in the playoffs, finished off the regular season, to be a very tough opponent. They’ve proven here in the four games they played Atlanta that they’re a different team than when we played them in December. Even though when we played them previous to that we won in shootouts and I think three of them went to overtime, that right now they’re a different team. They’re deeper. They have offense coming from deeper in their lineup. Their goaltending has been fabulous. It’s going to be a tremendous test.
Q. Montréal being out of the playoffs, I was following Pittsburgh and Ottawa. Bryan Murray in Ottawa decided to put his number one line against Sidney Crosby. You have a deep lineup, too. Can we expect to see something like that, to see a guy like Daniel Briere facing Jagr’s line or do you want to go more conservatively?
LINDY RUFF: I think the one thing we’ll do is evaluate how it goes. We haven’t done a lot of matching lines all year long. There’s matchups that we feel are favorable. Not one time during the year did we bring a line off the ice during play and put out a so-called better match-up. We’ve been working hard all year to make every line responsible.
Daniel Briere’s line has played against all the top lines during the year at times in the season. I have full faith when he’s out there that that line cannot only play well defensively but can do the job offensively against a line like that.
Q. Last year at this time you had a lot of injuries. Is your team healthy? Who might be a question mark for tomorrow night’s game?
LINDY RUFF: The only player that we have absent from our lineup right now is Paul Gaustad. On the health front, we are very healthy.
Q. That’s a relief for a head coach compared to last year.
LINDY RUFF: Last year we had to check with the training room before every game. Now we got to go into the weight room and see what the extra guys are doing, which is a good sign.
Q. This is your second game against a New York City team and possibly a third in the next round. How do you feel going back to last year, how your team has adjusted to being in the spotlight?
LINDY RUFF: I think there’s always adjustments. I think we have fed off some of the pressure early in the year. I think we handled it well. We were able to keep a pretty good string going. I think there was always some anticipation we may fall off, but we didn’t.
I think for the most part we handled it pretty well. I thought there were some situations in our first round of the playoffs where maybe the pressure showed a little bit. But I think that’s behind us now. We’ve kind of learned from it, dealt it. We want to move on.
Q. Is it fair to say bigger forwards, when they cycle down low, give your team the biggest challenge? I’m thinking to Ryan Smyth, what Jagr may do in this series?
LINDY RUFF: I think a lot of times, especially with the new rules, bigger forwards who use their size, turn their backs and cycle, they’re a lot tougher to handle. I think we have to be ready for it. I think at times we handled those situations very well, and then there was times where the other team did a good job against us.
But, you know, we fully anticipate being able to handle New York.
Q. We saw you put Afinogenov and Vanek on the bench during stretches of the Islanders series. Was there anything you said to those guys one-on-one about their playing their own end?
LINDY RUFF: I think if you look at the makeup of our team, the depth of our lines, I felt in some situations we’ve got Connolly, Ales Kotalik and Adam Mair as a line that were playing pretty well. There were situations there where we looked at matchups. I think a couple plays defensively we weren’t happy with. They understand that. They want to be better defensively. But there was a couple matchups that we were trying to get where they ended up where they ended up.
I think we know they’re one of our best offensive lines. It’s a line we want on the ice.
Q. How are you treating those guys going into the Rangers series? Are they still going to be on a bit of a short leash as far as defensive play or back in your good book, so to speak?
LINDY RUFF: Never said they were in my bad book.
Q. You have to like the travel situation in this series, being so close to New York. Have you watched the other series go six, seven, and thankful you’re not in that situation? Do you think it will lead to better hockey in this series?
LINDY RUFF: It’s the one area where we are fortunate that travel-wise for us it’s been very short. You look at most of the series here in the east, go to Ottawa-Pitt, that’s a short series. Ottawa-Jersey, that’s a short travel series, too. It’s the one area where playing out west and coaching out west, there is an advantage when it comes to travel.
Our proximity to teams we play is a lot better. I think we’ve had some rest. The Rangers have had some rest. It should make for two teams with a lot of energy.
DAVID KEON: Thank you very much, Lindy.
LINDY RUFF: You’re welcome, David. Thank you.
DAVID KEON: We now have with us Sabres captain Daniel Briere, recorded one goal and four assists for five points in the opening-round victory over the Islanders. Thanks to Daniel for joining us.
We’ll go to questions.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about the publicity the Sabres are getting, the second time you played a New York area team, might play a third? How do you feel about getting some national publicity?
DANIEL BRIERE: Well, we’re a team that’s been flying under the radar pretty much all of last year. But with the run we had, we got a lot of exposure last year. We were able to deal with that.
This year was a good season. The fact that we started 10-0, we got a lot of exposure right off the bat. We’ve had did to deal with that all year. But it’s definitely exciting to be playing in a big market like New York, to have the chance now to play at MSG for the second round of the playoffs. I know I’m definitely very excited about that.
Q. This time last year you were starting to lose some players, dropping like flies. So far just the one injury going in. How do you feel about being almost healthy headed into the second round?
DANIEL BRIERE: Well, that can turn and change in a hurry. I mean, I’d rather not comment on how we are this year. I know last year was one of those fluky things where it seemed like every game we were losing somebody different. Crazy injuries, too.
It happens. I mean, you can’t control that. It’s something that is totally out of your hands. All you can do is try to move forward. We were able to leave with our heads high because we know we left it all on the ice. That’s all I’m hoping and expecting from my teammates this year in the playoffs.
Q. (Question in French.)
DAVID KEON: Could you give us a short translation, Daniel, please.
DANIEL BRIERE: We started talking about Jagr. We were just saying that the Rangers have a lot more depth than when we faced them earlier this year and last year. Before we knew if we were able to stop Jagr’s line, we had a good chance of winning. Now, you know, they have more depth. They can score—their top three lines are very dangerous. That’s why they’re a different team.
We want to try obviously to stop Jagr as much as we can. But the focus is not just going to be on him. We have a lot of work to do.
The last question was about Sean Avery. Basically what I said is we want to treat him just as another player. We know he can hurt us if we let him get into our kitchen basically, if we make him more important than he really is. At the same time we have to respect him. He’s a good hockey player, as well. He makes plays to hurt you.
We want to treat him just as another player and try not to get into his game.
Q. Is part of that trash talking Avery to get back at him, or just try to stay away from it all together?
DANIEL BRIERE: We want to stay away from it as much as possible. I think that’s what he wants. He wants us to get into a shouting match with him. I think that plays to his advantage.
I’m not saying it will be easy, and from what I heard, you know, Atlanta wasn’t able—even though before the series, that’s what their plan was, they weren’t able to do that very well. He’s very good at what he does. I know he’s going to try and he’s going to make comments. That’s what he does. That’s his game. That’s what makes him successful.
On the other end for us, we want to concentrate on the way we play and try not to focus on Sean Avery, not treat him differently than any other player.
DAVID KEON: Thanks very much, Daniel, for your time.
DANIEL BRIERE: Thank you.
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