THE MODERATOR: Questions for Coach Vigneault.
Q. Update on Manny Malhotra?
COACH VIGNEAULT: Manny is the same as he was yesterday. He’s day to day. Not skating today.
Q. Alain, everyone is very excited among your players to play their first Stanley Cup game. Take us back to when you were young or when you were playing. How did you envision your first Stanley Cup game going? Were you going to play in it or coach in it?
COACH VIGNEAULT: Well, quickly realized that my potential as a player was real limited, so unless I played for a real good team, wasn’t going to get a chance to play for the Stanley Cup.
So when I started my coaching career in Tier II level, it was basically really just to give something back to the game. I had made it to the NHL as a player because there were some great volunteers, and I wasn’t really thinking at that time I was going to make coaching my career.
All of a sudden I had success, moved on to major/junior, had success there, went back and forth a couple years. Now after almost 25 years of coaching, I’m finally getting a chance to play for the Stanley Cup.
So I’m really excited. When you get in this business, you’re not quite sure how long you’re going to be in it. It’s not an easy business to get into, it’s not an easy business to stay into, and it’s not an easy business once you’re out of the NHL to get back in. I’m going to appreciate this moment and enjoy the time.
Q. Do you have family in town that have come to support you?
COACH VIGNEAULT: Yeah, I’ve got my two girls that are here. Got in last night. My best friend is coming in today. I’ve kept it to a real limited group. Want to stay focused on what we need to do here.
Q. A lot of players on your team that have Olympic experience, big-game experience. Do they at all need to use that to their advantage when they’re playing in something that is in many ways the same, but in many ways completely different?
COACH VIGNEAULT: Well, I think most of our players at one time or another, whether it be at this level or another level, have played big games. I’m very confident that once the puck drops tonight, our emotions are going to be at the right level. We’re going to work and execute our game the way we like to play, play real hard.
I’m sure Boston’s going to do the same thing. They’re a great hockey team. They’ve got a lot of balance. They’ve got some players that have also played on a big stage in big moments. I’m expecting a real hard and real good hockey series.
Q. Can I have some clarification on your first answer. When you said Manny wasn’t skating today, does that mean tonight as well?
COACH VIGNEAULT: We don’t discuss lineup possibilities. You should know that by now (smiling).
Q. But the game is today. Should we assume he’s not playing?
COACH VIGNEAULT: We don’t discuss lineup situations.
Q. You’ve won Game 1 the first three rounds. Outside of the obvious, that it gives you a 1-0 lead in the series, what does Game 1 victories mean for a team, a coaching staff in terms of preparation as you move on for the series, or at least move into Game 2?
COACH VIGNEAULT: Other than you’re three games away from winning that series, I mean, it’s one game. Our philosophy – you’ve heard me say this I don’t know how many times this year – has been one game at a time. We get ready for that game, we play it, we analyze it, make the adjustments that we need, and move on. That’s what we’re going to do tonight. After that we’re going to get ready for Game 2.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about Cody Hodgson, his recovery from injury, what you expect from him in the future?
COACH VIGNEAULT: He’s a kid that we feel has a tremendous amount of upside. You can really tell that this young man has a love of the game, great hockey sense. He’s going to find a way to play.
We brought him in at the end of the year because we felt that he could help us here in this playoff stretch. He has at different moments. But he’s a young man and he’s only going to continue to improve.
Q. Do you already kind of have a sense or will you maybe not know for sure until tonight whether the layoff was really good or whether it might take a while to sort of get back into that playoff mode?
COACH VIGNEAULT: I think we used this time off extremely well from a hockey standpoint as far as making sure that our guys stay real sharp on the ice through practices, real sharp as far as what we’ve done off ice with Roger and his group. Glenn, our skill coach, has worked a lot with our players before practices.
You know, I don’t see this layoff being a problem at all.
Q. There are reports that Colin Campbell has resigned. Could you give us your thoughts on his time and his role with the league.
COACH VIGNEAULT: I haven’t heard that. I’m not going to comment on something that I haven’t heard. I’ll comment on my team and a little bit on the Bruins.
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An interview with:
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Henrik, outside of the obvious which gives you a 1-0 lead, what has winning Game 1 of the last three rounds done for you, knowing you’ve won a game, that you have the lead?
HENRIK SEDIN: Well, I think it’s a really big game. It means apart from being up 1-0, it gives you confidence, it shows you can play against the other team. You don’t really have to change a lot of things.
You go out, you’re up 1-0, the next game they’re going to have to make adjustments to beat you. That’s an advantage, for sure.
Q. Henrik, you said yesterday that eight days off was too much. What would have been the right number? Is the extra days off added to the nerves or anticipation of this?
HENRIK SEDIN: I don’t know if it’s too much, but it’s plenty enough. Four or five days would have been good. I mean, we like to play games. We don’t really like to practice as much.
It would be nice to get going earlier. But this is the way it is. It’s not a disadvantage.
Q. The anticipation going into it?
HENRIK SEDIN: It’s fine. I think it’s been nice to get a few days to get the big winning in San Jose and then move on to this thing.
I think a lot of times in playoffs, you play every second day, you can’t really enjoy the wins. So I thought it was good to get some time to do that.
Q. Daniel and Sami, the three of you have played big international games, big playoff games. The three of you are the longest-serving Canucks about to play in a Stanley Cup final. How does this rank, the anticipation, compared to all the things you’ve done in your career?
DANIEL SEDIN: I think this is obviously the biggest game you can play. I think you look at Olympic finals, World Championships. But when you play this long, with good friends and teammates, it’s the biggest game you can play.
I mean, you played 82 games just to get in, then it’s a long run in the playoffs, too. For sure the biggest games you can play in.
SAMI SALO: Yeah, for sure. It’s like the Holy Grail. Very long road to get to the playoffs. Only a few players have a chance to play for the Cup. Nothing compared to the Olympics or the World Championships.
Q. Daniel, could you describe the emotions and nerves right now. What is going through your mind the morning of the game?
DANIEL SEDIN: I think we’re pretty calm. There’s going to be some nerves tonight obviously. If you don’t have nerves tonight, I think something’s wrong with you (smiling).
We’re excited. We’re going to have fun, enjoy every moment of it. So we’re ready to go.
Q. What would it mean if Manny Malhotra plays tonight?
DANIEL SEDIN: It would mean a lot. Even when he’s been injured, he’s been there, been with the team, given advice to players, been in the locker room. He’s been there all the time.
But I think having him play and having him in the locker room would mean a lot to our team.
HENRIK SEDIN: Same thing. He’s a guy that can help us no matter how many minutes he plays. He’s been so key to our faceoffs and PKs. We’ll see what happens. Again, he’s day to day, as he’s been the last week or so, so we’ll see what happens.
Q. Sami, I know you talked a little bit yesterday about your family situation. Can you talk about the importance of the series to you and your son, as a hockey dad yourself?
SAMI SALO: Yeah, for sure. Everybody in the family’s obviously very excited. We haven’t seen this before. You know, everybody’s very supportive. For sure I know my passed-away father will be cheering up somewhere.
Q. How difficult is it to play against Chara?
HENRIK SEDIN: I don’t know. I haven’t played a lot against him. We’ll see.
He’s big, he’s strong. But he’s not like a lot of the other big guys. He can make plays and he sees the ice really well, doesn’t make a lot of mistakes.
It’s going to be a tough matchup. But I think for us, the key for us is to get up to our potential. If we can do that, I think it’s going to work out.
Q. Has the anticipation and hype matched what you thought what it would be?
DANIEL SEDIN: Well, we knew it was going to be big, of course. The fans are excited. The whole city’s behind us.
It’s been awesome, the whole playoffs. Especially now the last days before the finals, it’s been unbelievable. So, like I said, we’re going to enjoy the moment and have some fun with it.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, gentlemen.
We have Ryan Kesler, Alexandre Burrows, and Alexander Edler.
We’ll take questions, please.
Q. For guys that have played in big international competitions, Sami and Daniel Sedin spoke about this being the biggest for them. Can you discuss whether you sort of feel the same way or differently in that regard.
RYAN KESLER: No, I definitely feel the same way. Obviously the Olympics was one of the biggest stages I’ve ever played on. I believe this is bigger. I’ve said it before: we worked extremely hard all year and I’ve played with these two guys next to me for close to five years. I played with Alex longer.
Every year we work for the same goal. To finally get here and to finally have a chance at achieving our goal, it’s something special.
Q. Ryan, there’s a good chance that your line might be matched up against Krejci’s tonight. Can you talk about that challenge.
RYAN KESLER: I think we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves there (smiling).
That line’s very skilled. If I am, in fact, matched up against that line, it’s going to be a tough challenge, just like every series.
Q. Talk a bit about how you relish that.
RYAN KESLER: I take a lot of pride in the defensive part of my game. Being matched against really good offensive guys like that, it’s definitely a challenge. I definitely relish the role.
Q. Ryan, there’s a possibility that Manny might play tonight. What would it mean if he’s in the lineup?
RYAN KESLER: If he is in tonight, it would be special. But if not, you know, he’s working to play in these playoffs. Whenever he’s ready, we’re going to welcome him with open arms.
Q. You guys have won seven straight Game 1s. You haven’t trailed at any point in these playoffs. How much more important does that make Game 1 tonight?
ALEXANDRE BURROWS: Obviously you always want to start a series on the right foot and get the first win.
We’ve had home-ice advantage throughout these playoffs. We like to feed off our crowd, feed off that energy, have good first games.
At the same time we have to focus on what we got to do to be successful. If we do that, we’ll get the result we’re looking for.
Q. Alex, do you expect this to be the most physical series to date of the four you will play and how much do you relish taking the body?
ALEXANDER EDLER: Yeah. I mean, it’s the playoffs. It’s always physical in the Stanley Cup final. So I’m sure it’s going to be tight out there. It’s going to be a lot of hits, a lot of physical plays. I think that’s the way it should be. It’s the Stanley Cup final here. I think that will be good. The crowd will like it. We will like it.
Q. Can you describe what you’re feeling, what you’re thinking going into this Stanley Cup final Game 1, something you’ve been thinking about for many years or decades.
RYAN KESLER: Well, I’m excited. You know, like I said before, we play to play in June. It’s going to be fun tonight.
Obviously there’s going to be some butterflies, all that good stuff. But as soon as the puck drops, we’ve done a good job all year of staying in the moment, taking it one game at a time. We’re going to enjoy this ride we’re going to be on.
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