Laviolette: 'Our guys are loose'
Here is a transcript from Wednesday morning's news conference with Flyers coach Peter Laviolette:
Q: Is tonight a must-win for your team?
COACH LAVIOLETTE: Yeah, you know, the first game was a must-win. The second game was a must-win. This third one is a must-win. We have to win hockey games. We have to get into the race here. It's an important game.
We're back in our building with our fans. We have had a lot of great hockey games here down the stretch of the regular season, through the Playoffs. Even the one game we lost, I felt like we dominated the game.
So it's a good place for us. Guys are confident. We need to get on the board.
Q. Is there, with all of the things you just said and the home crowd and all that, as much as you have to drive home the point that the pressure is on here, do you need to take the pressure off a little bit?
COACH LAVIOLETTE: I'm not sensing a lot of pressure. As far as the building and the fans and the energy, I'm a big believer in that. I say harness all of it and ride it as hard as you can. The pressure, I'm not seeing it from our guys. I don't see it in the interviews. I don't see it on the ice. I don't see it in the locker room.
We're a loose group. We're really comfortable where we're at right now, and we would like it to be the other way, but we're not. We're comfortable here because we've been here too many times. We're looking forward to it tonight.
Q. Peter, after two games, what have you learned about Antti Niemi, and what adjustments are you going to make because of it?
COACH LAVIOLETTE: Well, we didn't do a very good job picking our spots last game. I really feel like we have to do a better job picking our spots. Traffic, I'm a big believer in traffic. I thought we could have done a better job of getting to that area. It always makes life a little more difficult for a goaltender. Tonight we're going to -- we're going to look to get to those areas when we can. Fine-tune our shots a little bit.
Q. Peter, for every one of these guys, is there a first Cup Final game here in Philadelphia, you have so many young guys that kind of respond to the crowd. Do you say anything to them, though, about keeping emotions in check? I know you like --
COACH LAVIOLETTE: I already answered that. Our guys are loose. I'm a big believer in energy. I'm a big believer in emotion. Energy usually wins hockey games. If you can combine that with execution, you got yourself a lock. So energy and execution for me are two of the biggest factors in a hockey game. If there's energy in this building tonight and it's in our favor, I'm all for it.
Q. Coach – Jeff Carter said he's still trying to kind of push through. Obviously, he does more than just score goals. What have you seen from him? How close is he from breaking out?
COACH LAVIOLETTE: I think every time he gets on the ice he feels more comfortable. You have to remember that before he came back from a broken foot, he skated about three days and was out with a broken foot. It was the other one. Nothing like having two broken feet going into the Stanley Cup Finals.
But every day on the ice for him is a good day. I think when you talk about those guys who can score 40 goals, they need to get their ice back and their timing. He's in excellent shape. He's one of those people that can just carry that and not have to worry about conditioning too much.
But I think, when you've been out for a long time, you really have to work at it. So practices, the time off between the third round and the Finals, I think really helped him. When you get the opportunity to get ice, I think games and confidence.
Their line was out for a lot of those chances in the third period. Richards, Carter and Gagne. Carter figured in a lot of them. Typically that tells me when a player starts to figure into the chances like that, it's only a matter of time before they explode.
Q. Peter, last round when they played San Jose, the Sharks did a lot of talking how you have to shoot high on Niemi. Your guys said that too. Is that part of what you mean by fine tuning the shots, getting them up a little bit on this guy?
COACH LAVIOLETTE: I think there's room there. There's room other ways as well, things we talked about. We tried to show it on video. We'll get there.
Q. You mentioned it earlier that you guys have been in this position before. How important is that experience into your comfort level to be in this position again?
COACH LAVIOLETTE: Well, I think when you experience something for the first time, sometimes you can be overwhelmed by it. When you're down in the series or you're faced with goaltending injuries or you have to win in the shootout on the last day of the year, there's a lot of things that add up for this team that says they won't go away.
And like I said before, we've been in a situation since Christmas where it's been time to pack it in. Everybody just go home. Call it a year. And yet we're still here. It's the beginning of June. We're pretty happy to be here. And the guys won't quit. They just won't. That's why I sit up here today confident about our ability to win a hockey game tonight.
Q. Pete, do you get emotionally charged during the singing of "God bless America" in this building?
COACH LAVIOLETTE: I'm fired up. I'll be fired up all day. I'll be fired up when "God Bless America" goes off tonight. They do a great job with it, and the fans get into it. It should be great tonight. Great atmosphere for hockey. Can't wait.