Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 05/19/07 at 07:59 PM ET
‘‘It’s kind of surreal right now,’’ Alfredsson said of his first-ever foray into the NHL’s championship series.
It was fitting in too many ways that Alfredsson got the big goal, his 10th of the post-season, having been the goat on last year’s overtime winner by the Sabres when Jason Pominville walked around him and beat Ray Emery to end yet another disappointing playoffs for the Senators in the second round.
‘‘He’s taken a lot of heat over the years,’’ said Senators linemate Dany Heatley. ‘‘It’s great to see him score big goals. He deserves it. He’s a man on a mission.’‘
added 7:05pm, Bryan Murray, Daniel Alfreddsson and Ray Emery press transcript
Q. Just tell us how it feels to be going the Stanley Cup Final?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: Special. It takes a long time in a career. This is my third time to be in the Final, first as a coach. So, obviously, I’ve tried to keep telling the players that in your whole career you might get one, two chances, no matter how good a team you are or how good an individual player you are.
So, it feels great. I’m so happy for the guys, after the way we started the year, to do what they’ve done, to get to this level. I guess it’s a reverse of last year’s series where Buffalo was the team and we had to make up ground all the way through the second half. So it’s a very special group of people right now.
Q. Bryan, I’m sorry I came in late. You might have answered it. But the fact that it was Alfredsson that got the winner, given his playoff history, the fact that he’s been -
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: Again, he’s been a star the whole way through here from November, whenever it might have been. For him to get the goal is real justice to the way he worked and played. He’s been the example, the workhorse for the team. Mistake I made in the game, he was a little tired. Took him off on the five-on-three. Should have put him right back and made him stay. Don’t let goals like that happen very often against us, but it was one-on-three rush, and he scores. That’s kind of special.
Q. Bryan, you’re eighth win on the road in the post-season as a team, three here in Buffalo, does that speak to the composure this team has showed and worked on cultivating through the whole regular season?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: I think what happens - we went home, were up 3-0. We didn’t bear down, I didn’t think, the way we should have in Game 4. We had some chances late after we kind of sat back and let things happen around us.
On the road you get a chance to really be together and focus. There’s nothing else for them to worry about other than their own group. The fans are cheering for their home team. It’s not a place that’s always comfortable, but our team has found a way to be uncomfortable and competitive, and it doesn’t happen very often, I don’t think, in the record book that you win that consistently on the road, but again, good achievement.
Q. Bryan, what does this also mean for you to be in the Stanley Cup Final as a coach for the first time?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: It means I can coach. You know, I always felt I could coach, but I guess until you get there, you get second-guessed or criticized, whatever it may be. I feel kind of good about that.
The guys were terrific about it. I always knew, given a chance, we could do it and technically and all the rest of it, but you have to get there to prove it.
Q. This Buffalo-Ottawa rivalry is developing a lot of intense passions between the cities. Are you enjoying that, and do you think it’s good for the sport?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: We’ve said that many times. Until you have a playoff series with a team, you probably aren’t as angry at them or competitive with them, whatever it may be. And in this case, we’ve played for two years now a lot of hockey. I said that at the end of the second period.
We know these guys real well. We know what we have to do going out, and I think it’s great. They have a very good hockey team. Lindy and his staff did a hell of a job. One of those games, two overtime games again like last year in reverse almost. Good series, I thought.
Q. I know you don’t want to get too excited going into the Final, but how does this feel at this moment where you’re rewriting the history questions we’ve been asking for three series?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: Will you promise if I’m around next year, you won’t ask them again? (laughter). I think that will be the key. This organization, and I’ve said this many times for ten years, I believe it is, have been a very competitive, good operation. Whether it be the luck of the draw, whether it be bad luck on the ice, whatever it may be, they haven’t gone as far as some people expected they might.
So to get it done and get to this point at least is a remarkable achievement after the way we lost players last summer and the way we started the year, and I’m glad that we’ve rewrote all that and the comments that were made about this franchise will disappear for a day at any rate.
Q. Could the confidence level of your team be any higher going into the Cup Final? You’re 12 and 3, just knocked off the Presidents’ Trophy winners.
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: I don’t know how long we’re going to wait. I think at this point in time, we really have a belief that we can do a lot of good things. Whoever we play, it’s going to be always a challenge and difficult, and they’re very good teams in the West. We understand that. But I believe with this group that we’ll be a very competitive team in the Final, and I feel real good that these guys are going to play at a very high level.
Q. Alfie, poetic justice, you scored the game winner in overtime, maybe avenge some of the ghosts from last year?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: I don’t know. It definitely feels great. There’s no question. I thought we played a hell of a game again tonight. I was in a good position, and it was tough to get the penalty in the third, but we battled through and came back strong in overtime.
Q. Daniel, just you’ve been waiting for this for so long. What is the feeling now? You’ve been saying for so long that this team it is different, and now to be in the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time.
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: Yeah. It’s kind of surreal right now. I think we worked really hard for this. You never take anything for granted. I think we expected a battle tonight, and we definitely got it.
You know, I think we respect Buffalo as a team. I think they’ve had a hell of a year. I think they ran into us at the wrong time. I think we just were better than them this series.
Special teams was probably the biggest difference in this series. We let in two, five-on-three goals. The one today was just that. It was really five-on-three goal. Other than that, they don’t score on their power play, and when you play that good on your PK, it gives you that much - gives you a lot bigger chance to win.
Q. Daniel, where is the confidence level of the team right now? You’re 12 and 3 in the playoffs. You’ve won all three series in five games. Is it as high as it’s ever been since you’ve been a Senator?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: We believe in each other. We feel we can go out there and win any game. Like I said before I think we respect the opponents. We’re in the Finals now, and who we’re going to play, whether it’s Detroit or Anaheim, it’s going to be a real good team. We’ll have our hands full, but I think it’s nice to finish this in five and regroup here and get some rest and be ready.
Q. Daniel, on the ice to CBC you mentioned that Ottawa is best hockey community, the best community to play in in the world. Would you explain your reasons for saying that and expand on it, perhaps?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: Well, I said I thought that, anyway, but not judging for everybody else. The support we’ve gotten throughout - the support I’ve gotten throughout my period in Ottawa has been tremendous. I haven’t met one person who said a bad thing about us. I think they really appreciate what we do in the community, and, you know, their support for us has been a big part for us, our success, and the reason why there’s still a team in Ottawa.
You know, having a family now as well, it’s a great city for a family and - but the biggest thing for me, coming to the rink and the support we get and the knowledge they have, it does make this job pretty special.
Q. Daniel, the character of this team has shown through the post-season, especially on the road winning eight games, is that something this team constantly cultivated through the regular season in preparation, knowing that you had to win games on the road in the post-season?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: Yeah. I don’t know if it put extra emphasis on winning on the road. We try to win every game we play, and, you know, early in the season this year, we were terrible at home, you know. We weren’t great on the road, either. But to win in the playoffs, you have to be good at home and you’ve got to win some games on the road.
We’ve been really good on the road. That’s, you know, allowed us to win this series in five games.
Q. Daniel, can you just take us through the winner from your point of view, the winning goal?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: Yeah. Heatley got the puck by the blue line and sidestepped one of their guys, and I was coming through the middle, and, you know, tapping the stick to get the puck, and he gave it to me, and I looked up, and I was I think one-on-three, but none of them really checked me and I was able to skate in their end, and I think someone tried to poke-check me. I almost lost the puck there. I was able too get it back and get a quick shot off.
Q. Daniel, can this be the goal that now is on TV all the time?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: In Ottawa it will be for a few days, I guess. (Laughter). You know, it feels really nice to be able to finish this series off, because a win in Buffalo is a very tough team and would have been tough to come back to Ottawa and play another game. But, you know, we’ve got to be extremely happy with what we’ve done so far and get ourselves ready for the next series.
Q. Daniel, whether it’s last summer after the loss to Buffalo or in years past, did you ever waver in your belief truly in your heart this day would come, you would you would be carrying this team to the Cup Final?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: No. Especially in the summer when you’re working out, you have your tough workouts. That’s what makes it - makes you go through them, your dreams, and what you would do if you would have the Cup for a day, and that would never go away.
You know, I feel personally, you know, this year I was a better player and it’s been nice to be able to play to my abilities, you know, in the playoffs, and it’s been a great feeling being part of this team.
Q. Ray, John Muckler said in the room the fact you’ve taken a team to the Stanley Cup Final makes you an elite goaltender now. What’s your emotion, especially winning this series?
RAY EMERY: It’s exciting anytime you achieve something like that, winning a conference as a team, but I think as a team it was, you know, maybe a bit more a pride thing because last year it was disappointing. You know, I didn’t really feel right when we lost last year. There was definitely a pride factor there when we played that team.
Q. Ray, was it your thought to finish it off in Buffalo because they did it to us last year back at home last year?
RAY EMERY: No. I don’t think so. I would have loved to win - have won back in our rink and have swept the series, you know. It didn’t enter our minds where we wanted to win.
Q. Ray, take us through 3rd period, about how tough it was to survive all those shorthanded situations.
RAY EMERY: Yeah. I didn’t think it should have been that lopsided as far as penalties and calls, but, you know, we battled hard and I thought really did a good job to force the overtime, because, you know, that’s really tough for you against a team like that, to have that much time shorthanded and five-on-three for a buck thirty, whatever it was.
Q. Ray, had I told you last November when you guys were struggling and all that craziness going on, had I told you during one of those days that you’d be in the Cup Final, what would have been your answer, your reaction?
RAY EMERY: Cool. (Laughter). You know, I mean, I don’t think it’s any secret that we had a good team, just, you know, I think it’s more of a mental thing than anything, and we certainly worked that out all year, you know, went through crazy situations with injuries and slumps and streaks and whatever. So we prepared ourselves pretty well for what the playoffs have to bring.
Q. Ray, can you just talk about the irony of Daniel scoring the winner after what happened last year and had kind of being ostracized a little bit because of what happened?
RAY EMERY: Yeah. Alfie had - like I said, it was a pride series and Alfie had something to prove, too, I think in his mind. And he more than did that, and it was just punctuated by him scoring that whole goal, him carrying the team through the whole series and through the whole playoffs is great to see. Shows what type of player he is, just a team guy.
Q. Ray, you know I got to ask. Where do you a want to hang out? Greektown in Detroit or Disneyland?
RAY EMERY: I got in trouble last time I said who I wanted to win (laughter). I’ll just watch and see what happens and prepare for whatever teams wins.
Q. Where is it better to hang out, though?
RAY EMERY: Where is it better to hang out? I don’t know. I’ll be in the hotel either way (laughter).
Q. Would you look forward to facing Dominik, though, given that you were his teammate last year?
RAY EMERY: You know, if it happens, we play Detroit, I don’t think it’s a goalie-on-goalie thing. I think it’s a full team series, and that’s how I’ll look at it. I’ll just prepare for what shooters they have and what plays they have, different things like that, but I’m not worried about the other goalie.
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