Patrik Elias, Zach Parise talk about Conference Finals matchup vs. New York Rangers

Photo courtesy of AP / Rich Schultz

New Jersey Devils forwards Patrik Elias and Zach Parise spoke to the media today about their upcoming opponent in the Eastern Conference Finals; the New York Rangers. Here is what they had to say (via NHL Press Release).

“An Interview With:


Q.    Your thoughts on facing the Rangers, both of you?
ZACH PARISE:  Kind of get the sense that we were going to run into
them sooner or later, if we kept winning.  And it will be exciting.  It’s
going to get a lot of local media attention.  And having played in two
series against them, it’s hyped up pretty good.
The atmosphere in both of the buildings are great.  So we’re looking
forward to it.  We’ll be prepared.
PATRIK ELIAS:  I think you see every game during the regular season
the way the excitement from the players is to play, and obviously know
what’s at stake in the Playoffs.
This is going to be a fun time.  They have a great team, I think that
we’re playing very good hockey right now and it’s going to be a big battle.
These guys, every time – we have to approach it the same as we
approached it the last series.  Just keep our mind straight on the job that
we have today, that we want to do, we want to accomplish.  But it’s good
like that.
It’s going to be exciting time in Madison Square Garden.  There’s not
too many better buildings to play in.  The fans are great.  And I’m sure
we’re going to get a lot of our fans coming to this building for our game.
So we’re looking forward to it.

Q.  Can you guys just talk about how Marty has played throughout this
whole season and just what you sort of expect to see from him going against
Lundqvist, one of the better goalies in the league?
PATRIK ELIAS:  Both of the goalies – you need to have good
goaltending to be successful, obviously.  Lundqvist gives them opportunity
to succeed each night.  And Marty has been great for us.  Especially at
crucial moments, in the first round and the whole series against Flyers,
the chances they got, had to make some big saves, and he did.  And I think
he’s excited to be in this position.  He’s excited to play these guys.  And
does he have something to prove?  You have to ask him.
But, yeah, we count on him in this series, and I’m sure he’s going to
do a great job for us as he did so far.

Q.  The regular season games against, between these two teams,
probably vastly different than what we’re going to see tomorrow especially
at the beginning of the game.  Is that going to be an example of games we
saw during the regular season at all?
ZACH PARISE:  Intensity-wise, there’s no doubt in my mind that that
will be there.  I think just in Playoffs you don’t see – you don’t see line
brawls like that too often.  You don’t see too much fighting, period.
But that doesn’t mean that that rivalry between the two teams isn’t
there.  For us, it has to be done like we did against Philadelphia, from
the whistle and nothing after.  But as far as those fights go, I could be
wrong, but I just – you just don’t see those very often in the Playoffs.

Q.  I wanted to bring it back to Marty for a minute.  Zach, you just
said you know the local media attention is going to be different,
obviously, at this level.  Have you ever just considered, either of you,
with his record, had he played for the Rangers or in New York rather than
here, do you think his perception or fame rating would be different?  Like
what would that would have been like, do you think?
PATRIK ELIAS:  I think because he’s playing here, I think that if he
would – for example, if he played in Canada, you see a lot of times that
the goalies, any player, any top player, things can go wrong certain years,
certain games.  And they can turn on you and sometimes it can affect you.
And I think he may be playing obviously here and maybe not as big a hockey
market as they have the Rangers or, for example, Toronto, then he can kind
of stay focused on his job and keep doing his thing.
So I think he’s happy here.  And nobody’s going to take that away
from him, his records and the way he’s been in his career.
Would he have more posters around?  Probably.  Commercials, maybe,
but I think that the most important thing, that he knows that he can have a
success here and have a chance to win Stanley Cups, which he did, and not
just one, one time.
But this organization always prides on having a good enough team to
be able to succeed in the Playoffs and win the Stanley Cup, and that’s the
bottom line.  And I think he knows it.  So that’s why he’s been here for 20
plus – I’m just kidding.

Q.  Zach, knowing their propensity to block shots, is there anything
you guys will have to do differently once you get in the zone, knowing they
pack it in and block those shots?
ZACH PARISE:  I guess it’s a matter of our D getting shots off
quickly.  I think when you find that when they wind up those big slappers,
it gives them time to get in the lane and block the shots and get in the
lane.  If they can get the shots off quicker, the forwards play pretty low.
So they get those off quickly it will benefit us and get passed that
first guy and just make sure – I mean, it doesn’t always have to be on net,
just get passed and we can start over on the cycle.  But just find ways to
get it past that first guy and giving the forwards a chance to get the puck
back if it’s not getting beyond that.
But I don’t think it changes – I don’t think it’s going to change our
game plan.  It’s not going to change our mentality.  A lot of teams block
shots now.  And we have to find ways through it.

Q.  Patrik, what’s some of your recollections of the past of
Rangers-Devils Playoffs?  How much can you relay your experience of what
this is like to a lot of the young guys in the locker room that have no
idea what this is going to be like for the next two weeks?
PATRIK ELIAS:  I don’t think you have to let the young guys know what
it’s all about.  You know, it’s – the intensity is going to be a little
high powered because there’s a lot more at stake in the Playoffs.  But we
all know they’re all part of regular season games and they already have a
feel for what it’s all about.
So it’s just going to be a little more intensity, but we just have to
stay focused.  We cannot get away from our goals, our system, what we want
to accomplish out there, the way we want to play.
So the young guys, like I said, there’s only a few buildings that are
– that have such a great atmosphere as Madison Square Garden, and us being
the rivals across the river it’s going to be obviously exciting.
But that’s where you want to be.  Especially Conference Finals,
playing these guys, this is a great moment.  You’ve got to enjoy it.  And
we will, and just stay focused, bottom line.

Q.  How about your memories from playing?
PATRIK ELIAS:  I have some good ones obviously against them, and some
bad ones.
So you try to keep the positive ones in your mind.  And we were just
on the way here walking with Zach and just mentioned I remember the first
time against the Rangers when we swept them 4-0, that would be way back,
that would be nice to get that going.  But every year it’s obviously
different.  Every situation is different.  Every game is different.  That
team is playing better as a unit than any other Rangers teams I’ve seen in
a long time.
And so my memory is good, bad, try to focus on the positive ones.

Q.  For both of you, how much different is this series than what you
faced in the last one?  The Flyers were much more wide open.  You guys took
advantage of that.  When you look at the Rangers, do you see a lot of
yourselves in them?
ZACH PARISE:  They play a defensive, very defensive game.  And they
take pride in it.  When they do have a breakdown, most of the time
Lundqvist is there to bail them out.
So, I mean, they played a lot of low-scoring games in the postseason,
and they’re comfortable doing that, obviously.
So I think for us it’s just to stay patient.  I think both teams play
a very structured game and you have everyone doing the same thing out
there, which is why both teams are where they are right now.
They’re really well coached, and they believe in what they’re doing,
as do we.  So there’s some similarities in that.
But I think for us to stay patient.  We’ll get scoring opportunities.
It’s just it’s a matter of us not trying to force it and being patient
throughout the series.
PATRIK ELIAS:  There’s not much more I can add to that.  Because
they’re comfortable playing low-scoring games, we have to be ready to play
those too.  And like Zach said, if we just get a couple of opportunities,
we have to take advantage of it because they won’t give you much more.
And a couple of words, describe it as being patient and disciplined.
Don’t get rattled.  Don’t get out of our game.  And just keep doing the
same thing, and just certain areas, especially in their zone, they’re
playing very tight.  And they block a lot of shots.  So it’s easy sometimes
to get frustrated.
But this is not a time to do so.  So we’ve got to be really patient.

Q.  The book on Lundqvist is to shoot high.  Do you subscribe to
ZACH PARISE:  Can we have a copy of that book?  You know more than
us, apparently.

Q.  Do you subscribe to that?  If you do, do you hold the puck just a
second longer to build up the wait five feet deeper for a rebound?  If not
back, back to a rebound straight back on the ice?  Do you change at all?
Do you subscribe to that theory, first?
PATRIK ELIAS:  I don’t know.  He’s been nominated for the best player
of the season, hasn’t he?  There’s a reason for that.  I don’t know if he
has a weakness, really.  And especially this year, he was so confident, and
rightfully so.  And he knows when he’s going to make that first save that
the team is there to back him up for rebounds and because they block so
many shots maybe we won’t get so many shots through.
But there’s different ways you can get to him probably.  Obviously
you have to have traffic, try to screen as much as possible.  But then
again you have their five guys and a couple more of you, us, and then all
of a sudden where the puck’s going to go.
So you have to find a way.  Maybe spread them out a little bit at
certain times.  You have to react to the game.  Certain plays you have to
get the pucks on the net quick.  Get the shots quick.  Different time
shift, maybe take a little extra time, make extra two paths in.
On him, I don’t know, I’ve been around for a long time.  I don’t
really think about it and look at it if one goalie has a witness, if it’s
blocker low, you try to shoot there, just react in the game, especially now
that the game’s gotten so much quicker.

Q.  Patrik, I wanted to ask you if your perspective or appreciation
has changed.  It’s been a while since it’s been at this point, but you have
been here before.  Have you found yourself at all just communicating that
message or just appreciation of getting this far and how rare sometimes
they can be?
PATRIK ELIAS:  I don’t think we have to really.  I think we have such
a good group of guys here that we know where we’re at right now and what’s
at stake.
And I think a lot of us already had the opportunity to be in the
Playoffs maybe for one round or two rounds, max.  And obviously last year
not even making it, so we all got a taste of disappointing seasons
obviously.  And to be in a third series now, the opportunity to give us a
chance to play the Finals, that is something special.
We don’t need to mention it.  For me it’s been a lot of wishing, and
I’m enjoying it like everyone else.  I think that we’re pretty focused and
at the same time kind of loose and just enjoying the moment right now. And
you have to have a tight group and something special, some kind of special
feeling to get this far in the Playoffs.  And we have that and hopefully we
can keep it going.

Q.  Washington game last night, did you have any inkling of who you
wanted to play for?  Did you say to yourself if Washington wins we get home
ice or did you have a better chance against Washington, or did you say to
yourself, boy, we’d really love to play the Rangers because we know what
that would be in terms of excitement for this area?
PATRIK ELIAS:  I wasn’t watching, so there goes my answer.
ZACH PARISE:  I didn’t watch it.

Q.  How did you find out at least who won?
ZACH PARISE:  Just through text messages and things like that.  I
didn’t watch the game.  But at this point we’ve done well starting on the
road.  And it’s – I mean, home ice, of course, would have been great but
we’re comfortable playing on the road.  And we’re ready.  I think we’re
ready.  We’ve practiced quite a bit.  Had some days off and some rest.  And
we will be in for a tough series.
PATRIK ELIAS:  You have to be careful what you wish for, even in the
back of your mind.  In the past kind of wished for one team and all of a
sudden we got knocked out in the first round.  And then you don’t wish for
the other teams.
I don’t know.  I think that even before the second round series we
knew we were going to get a tough opponent, and obviously getting Philly, I
don’t know if anybody – we didn’t think it was easy.  But we played great
hockey against them.
It’s different teams – and you just have to adjust.  And you cannot
do that.  You can’t predict, you can’t wish for one thing.  You have to
beat all the best teams to be the best.

Q.  Maybe not wish, but just hope, like you say, okay, how good would
it be, like knowing full well you’ve been around Rangers – you’ve played
against the Rangers in the Playoffs, but the idea in the Conference Finals,
it hasn’t happened in 18 years, the idea what this area is going to be like
in the next two weeks.  Is that a process that comes through your mind at
all, that wow –
PATRIK ELIAS:  It was talked about, obviously, from you guys talked
about it, obviously.  And of course we talk about it a little bit.
But it’s exciting because we’re playing these guys.  Because of all
the hype and we don’t have to travel.  And if you would play Washington,
then we knew that, again, that was a team that really believed in each
other, all of a sudden they turned their season around with the Playoff run
and had great goaltending and played really defensive and headed guys off
and I think really dangerous.
And the Rangers, they’re just – offensively maybe they weren’t as
talented maybe I would say individually as Washington, but played a lot
better game as a team.  So we can’t worry or wish for any of those teams.

Q.  What’s it been like the last three months baby-sitting Zidlicky?
PATRIK ELIAS:  I don’t know.  It’s been on my wife.  She’s been
cooking for me quite a bit.  I get a treat, too.  She’s on me because I
stopped eating all the Czech food and I watch my diet way too much.  At
least she has someone to cook for.”

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