Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 05/12/07 at 02:44 PM ET
Bryan Murray, Daniel Alfredsson and Ray Emery…
Q. Coach, any thoughts, Lindy has already said he’s going to shuffle his lines up a bit. Is that a concern of yours or just do what you do?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: That’s a concern of him and his team to make, you know, the moves. What I suspect is he’s going back to original lines, and we kind of thought coming into the series that we would end up playing that type of combination anyway. But our lines are what they are right now, and we’ll leave them alone.
Q. Coach, you spoke about getting - before the series about getting goals from other sources and for your fourth line to pop up and to get that big goal, that has to be something that you don’t always expect the fourth line to do but a lift for your hockey club.
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: They’re not an offensive type of line, really. They’re set up to be a hard working, responsible, puck crasher type of line, but they do have ability there. I think each of them have a little history of scoring the odd goals. So for them to do that in the big moment of the game, certainly is a bonus for us, a plus for us, and makes us all feel there’s a reason to put people on the ice at a given time in a game.
Q. Bryan, what way have you had - to go back to the beginning of last season, in what way have you had to rein in Ray Emery in terms of preparation or just mental things personality wise?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: Nothing, really. He was a young guy that was our No. 2 goaltender when we started last year. His work ethic, his attitude has been great.
I think he did a couple of things for the media to just get some nice attention at different times last year. But beyond that, he’s a hard working, real competitive athlete. The thing that I saw him do when he got kind of thrown in just below playoff time and had to play, he really is a competitive guy.
He hadn’t gone through the normal process, I don’t think, of normal development that it was hurry-up mode. He played in the American Hockey League. He came in halfway through his first year in the league, he became a No. 1 guy. That’s difficult to handle.
I thought over the summer Ray really focused on a couple things, getting better, went to a couple of goaltending camps. We talked a little bit early in the year. He just wanted a chance to be the goaltender if anything cropped up, and obviously it did.
He got a chance to be important for us and, he’s done nothing other than work extremely hard, overcome some health issues early in the year and been a real stable guy for us. He just says all these nice things so you guys have something to write about and to hate him for, but he’s a real good guy.
Q. If he gives us anything to write about, we’d never hate him. In all sports, maybe last 10, 15 years there’s always talk about “I’m just trying to express myself or people trying to” - is that what you think it was, a young guy just trying to say “Here I am and” -
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: Yeah, sure. I think there’s a lot of things that happen to young athletes today. The exposure. Every time they open their mouth or do something it’s very, very evident to the general public now. I think before guys had - we probably were more strict in the ‘80s and ‘90s with our players. Keep quiet, follow the company line. I think we’re much more worldly now, sophisticated now, and Ray is one of those kids that he’s just going to be a good goaltender for the next 10, 15 years. That’s where he’s going to be.
But in the process I think he had to get a little attention early on, and I think he’s getting it now, and I don’t think he has to do stuff off the ice anymore than normal. So I keep my thumb on him, but he keeps moving at the odd time.
Q. I guess as you win and take your team to a conference final, it has a tendency to get longer.
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: We addressed the issue before New Jersey, after the series was over and we’ll continue to monitor everything and anything with our team, not just Ray Emery, but with our team. But we are in a business that people only care about winning, and when you win, we’re less likely to be upset with the athlete.
Q. How was Dom with him last year, any mentoring?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: I think they had a relationship, but they weren’t - the age difference, the opportunity to play wasn’t there for Ray as much when Dom was there, but I think Ray had great respect for the career and the work ethic of Dom.
Q. Coach, will you use Eaves tonight?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: No.
Q. Coach, great success on the road in the post season. Obviously the approach, this is a business trip, but do you see the improvement, the mental approach in this team?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: Well, I think really you have to have a little history of winning on the road, and I think we’ve done that over - certainly the latter part of the year. I think our road record was good. Our preparation on the road is real good.
I think the guys, there’s no question there’s a closeness, and we all know that the crowd and the our team is supposed to be emotionally involved in the game, and we just try to play, and I think our guys have done a real good job of just sticking together, being a good team and being responsible to each other.
Q. Did the slow start in the season and some of the criticism from the public help galvanize this roster as well? They may not say it publicly, but in that room they realize that they have each other’s back? Because, you know, in Ottawa if you win two games, you’re great. If you lose two games, trade the whole team.
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: I think a lot of towns are like that now, really. I think the exposure of the NHL, the team, the players in the NHL demand that. But I think certainly going through adversity versus last year. Buffalo had the great run this year. We had the great run last year. The pressures are quite different in the second half of the year.
We had to win to make the playoffs. We just had to win almost every game. They had the big lead, and I think the pressures kind of swung a little bit because of that. I think it’s really helped us come playoff time to know night after night you have to go play good hockey or you might not make the playoffs or might be 8th, whatever the case may be.
Q. The Sabres kind of dealing with that end of the spectrum last year getting into the playoffs and expectation was, “Hey, hey, great, they’re in the post-season. This year the No. 1 team in the league.”
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: That’s part of it. I think it’s also the pressure you put on yourself.
Q. Coach, what kind of feeling is it for you when the Spezza and Heatley line is on the ice, little bit more or less because it’s going to be a successful time on the ice?
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: I really like it when they have the puck. They’re a good line. They played like a good line all year, or most of the year, at any rate, and certainly I know they’re a threat. I know we have the possibility of getting a scoring chance if nothing else.
And the other thing that’s been better this year, of course, is that, as I said to some people yesterday, I think the huge improvement in our team comes from a guy like Spezza and Heatley just becoming better all-around players. That’s been the big difference as much as anything on our hockey team. There’s a little more - you’re never relaxed. I really think that you feel good about the group and you understand that they’re going to try some things out there and maybe give you the possibilities of getting a point.
Q. When Lindy was in a couple minutes ago, he was talking about a couple of calls that he didn’t like the other night, could have gone one way or the other. Then somebody asked him about would he rather go back to old time hockey.
He said he brought in a tape of himself and James Patrick playing with the Rangers. Ten minutes he played he could have had ten hooking penalties. He much prefers today’s game even though you - there’s not a happy medium to what it was 10, 15 years ago. I was going ask you what -
COACH BRYAN MURRAY: There’s no question. I don’t want to go back to what it was, either. I think the hooking and holding an interference that went on really took away from the talent level or the skill player level in our game.
I think there’s a happy medium, though, little more. I think even watching the game last night with Detroit and Anaheim, you see a couple calls in the game and say those are tough penalties to have to kill at the stage of the game that we’re in.
I’m not sure that if you let the odd time where a guy is innocent when he touches the hands or the stick of another player, that should be called hooking every time. But how do you satisfy us, then?
So we’re always going to complain about calls. I’m always going to ask how come our goaltender gets bumped and you don’t make a call on that or you’re warning so-and-so three times in a row and does the same thing.
But that’s what we are. Coaches are complainers. We’re supposed to be somewhat demanding of the referees as well as our own players, and we hope that it works out at the end. So, I didn’t like a couple calls. Lindy didn’t like a couple calls. Referee really don’t give a damn.
Q. This team’s success on the road, was that part of I guess the schematic this year that you won, that mental approach? Bryan said you guys are great as getting yourself prepared on the road.
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: Well, yeah. I think you try to prepare yourself the best you can every game on the road or at home. But I think we’ve - on the road we still try to play an aggressive game and not play it safe and sit back.
I don’t know if I can pinpoint anything exactly to our success on the road, but, you know, we just hope we can continue it.
Q. Is it time - do you guys joke about the Game 2 stat. Just one of those odd stats?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: I don’t even think about it, look at the stats, either: You know, you just got to go out there and give yourself a chance to win every night. Every series, every game becomes more important, and the same thing tonight. We’re going to go out there and, you know, we know we’re going to be ready. We know if we win, it will be - we’ll be putting ourselves in a great position. If we don’t, we just have to go back to Ottawa and try to win at home.
Q. Because the other team is mentally hungrier because of being down 1-0 or letting up by you guys or just the way it ends up being?
DANIEL ALFREDSSON: Just the way it ends up being. I think most overall, you know, in the playoffs this year, I think Coach mentioned before playing New Jersey in the second game he said the same thing there. The team that usually wins the first game loses the second, and we’re aware of it.
You know, they’re going to be a desperate team. We got to go out there and play hard and give yourself a chance tonight.
Q. Ray, have you noticed the leash getting longer as you’ve played better? Remember when you first came in with the Senators and everything from the mask to “Don’t do this, Don’t do that?’ and what has winning done from that standpoint?
RAY EMERY: I don’t know. It’s still - a big deal still gets made out a lot of things that I think is little but, you know, winning is fun. That’s why I play the game. So I guess yeah, you can be yourself a bit more if you win.
Q. Can you talk about things, little things, that turn into big things.
RAY EMERY: If I talk about them, then they’re going to keep coming up (laughter).
Q. How do you find a balance in terms of the guy you are without the game versus the goaltending, which is a huge, obviously in Ottawa and now the NHL? How do you balance where you be that goalie but still be the guy you want to be?
RAY EMERY: I think you need a break from competition or from, you know, the hockey, hockey, hockey thing. And when I play, I’m so into the game that, you know, I can’t be like that all the time. I’ve tried that, but I get kind of angry sometimes and stuff if I carry it outside the rink. I enjoy my time away from the rink. I’m a pretty easy-going guy, but when I come to play, I’m really focused and, you know, kind of a different person, just really get psyched and focused on what I have to do.
Q. Does that focus get lost? Do you get the credit you deserve for being that focused net minder? It’s more about what happens away from the rink versus your approach to the game?
RAY EMERY: I don’t know. Definitely I think it’s because, you know, a lot of guys are like that. Lot of guys, you know, stay focused and are really concentrating on the task at hand when they come to the rink, and maybe when I joke around or do some different stuff off the ice, it’s different from what everyone else does. I think it might get a bit more attention than just being the focused hockey player.
Q. Is it difficult - maybe another way of asking, is it difficult, you’re a fairly young guy to accept that? You have two personas. One is the goaltender and your public persona is just as big right now because of who you are in goal. So that, I mean, you may say that a lot things get blown up, what you think is small. To a lot of people they’re not small.
RAY EMERY: It’s not difficult. I’m smart enough guy if I need to not make any waves, I can not make any waves kind of thing, you know. Like I said, I don’t really mind right now. Doesn’t bother me.
Q. You think it takes away from your game people only asking you about what you prefer to do off the ice as opposed to the way you play the game on it? You’re not the one people are saying, “Hey, he’s leading the team” as opposed to “He’s just a goalie back there’?
RAY EMERY: I don’t really care much for what people say. If we’re winning, I’m happy. It’s almost more enjoyable to kind of go unnoticed as far as that goes.
Q. Bryan Murray said, I think it was yesterday, that you were a better player when the fans were on you. You kind of have that target or whatever. Do you see it that way? Does that bring out your best?
RAY EMERY: I think I get more pumped up and a bit more psyched when you have an underdog role or when you have that much fanfare going on, all the people screaming and yelling and wanting you to fail. It’s an added adrenaline. Makes you want to win bit more.
Q. The stuff off the ice when people are talking about what you’re doing away from the ice, do you get a kick out of it or is that an invasion? There are probably different ways to look at it. Do you enjoy it?
RAY EMERY: It kind of depends. You know, there’s process and consequence. But, like I said, I don’t mind. If it takes away from the team or if it - when you get in an accident on the highway and there’s news cameras popping up over the median, it’s not the ideal situation all the time. So - (laughter), but it’s fun for my buddies back home, call and get a kick out of it.
Q. I know you’ve probably been asked the question before about the boxing aspect of it. How much does that mentality affect who you are? Or at what point did you embrace that element or whatever it is that you derive from it, whether it be just as a fan or that athlete’s type spirit?
RAY EMERY: Yeah. It’s kind of pure form of sport, you know, just one guy trying to beat up another guy. I think any athlete can relate to that. But now, you know, I’m just more of a fan of the sport, and it’s a bit different from, you know, the kind of major sports you’re seeing on TV all the time.
I think I just like it because of that. But like I said, I think every competitive guy can really relate to boxing or, you know, something more simple like that.
Q. Does it come down to the thing that it’s also the individual? And I know you’re in a team sport, but you’re a individual, you express yourself in different ways, that boxing is the ultimate individual sport. You’re in there by yourself, practically naked, nobody can help you. It’s true, though. But you’re in there, there’s nothing to hide behind, there’s no - not wearing a mask, not wearing pads, it’s just -
RAY EMERY: I don’t know about the individual part. I think there’s more satisfaction, you know, being with a group of people kind of doing something together. You have people to share stuff with, you know. Not so much the individual thing.
Q. Is your mental approach to the game indicative of this team’s entire mental approach this season in terms of like in Ottawa, you win two games, you’re going to win the cup, you lose two games, trade the whole team?
Is this team galvanized mentally? You’re so strong on the road, you’re playing the great hockey. Nothing seems to get to this team.
RAY EMERY: Yeah, I think so. I think we’re able to see past all the hype and not get too high or too low. Because, like I said before, we’ve been through a lot of different situations this year where they wanted to trade the whole team or where we won whatever it was, got points in 20 out of 21 games or something and we were, you know, destined to win it all.
I think we can see past that now and we’re more level and just more confident, consistent. If we win a couple in a, row a loss isn’t going shatter us, or if we lose a couple, we know we can bounce back from that.
I think those ups and downs we went through through the year really helped us this time of the year.
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