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On the Montreal Scene: Boyle, Richards, St. Louis, Vigneault

Alain Vigneault looks on during the second period

Alain Vigneault looks on during the second period of a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Madison Square Garden. (Dec. 23, 2013) Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

I have an album, yes, vinyl, from the mid-90s by jazz pianist Johnny O'Neal titled "On The Montreal Scene".

And we all know that there are plenty of memorable scenes in this city, winter, spring, summer and fall.

Today was one I'll remember, too.

A couple dozen valiant members of the playoff media who arrived in Montreal by 6 p.m. gathered in a smal, street-level outdoor patio area on a hotel on Sherbrooke Street, with the traffic bustling by outside and occasional bursts of rain on the roof, to discuss Game 5 and other topics with the Rangers head coach and three players---team dynamics, AV on friendships, Richards on "creating our own history" etc. The surroundings weren't ideal for acoustics, so I've taken the liberty here to post the transcript. Read away....

BRIAN BOYLE

Q.    A  lot of additions to this team in the off-season player-wise
or even during this season for you guys like Klein, Carcillo, Marty, has it
been difficult to assimilate new players or have you guys been able to?

BRIAN  BOYLE:   I  don't  think it's been too difficult.  I think the
additions  have  been some good people.  We've gotten guys that have helped
us  that  are  obviously  good players that fill the need, but they're good
people.   We  get  along  so  well as a team, and if there is a new face, I
think  as  a  team  from  the leaders and right on down, we try to get them
acclimated  as  fast  as  possible.   You feel pretty comfortable with your
surroundings  it  can help you maintain a level of confidence.  I think for
the most part our structure and the way we play is pretty straightforward. You're asked to do the essential things like skating and forechecking and being responsible defensively.  Those are traits that our team likes to carry, and we've had guys come in here and it's been pretty seamless.

Q.  What is the danger of looking ahead to what you can accomplish?

BRIAN  BOYLE:   We've  had  some  -- I mean, we had one game in these
playoffs where we weren't totally focused.  It was Game 4, I think, against
Pittsburgh.  But you weren't totally focused whether it be mentally or have
everything  physically.   It  sticks  out.  You can tell that if you're not
100%  in the moment and focused and have all your energy on what's the task
at  hand.   We  were  embarrassed in that game.  It can happen quickly, and
momentum, obviously, can turn quickly in series and throughout games even.

Q.   With  all  that's  gone on in this series and the back and forth
with the coaches, how have you guys been able to keep that out of the mind?

BRIAN  BOYLE:  It's not hockey.  It's not on the ice.  It's something
that hopefully it's over and done with.  But if it isn't, it doesn't really
matter  because  the  team that plays the best on the ice and wins the game
gets to advance, and that's really all that matters.

Q.  Are you always looking for that pass to spring a breakaway?

BRIAN BOYLE:  I heard -- I was yelling for Mac.  We try to make small
plays  like  that if we can get a higher percentage play to get it down the
ice,  so I was yelling for Mac.  He gives it to me, and I kind of hear this
build  up in the crowd.  Before I could even look up I thought either a 'D'
man  fell down or we had two-on-one.  I looked up and Hags was on the other
side  of  the  rink, it looked like.  So I just bared down and tried to rip
it,  luckily he handled it.  I was pretty surprised he was up there though.
It was a good read though obviously.

MARTIN ST. LOUIS

Q.    Boyle  was saying that you guys in the playoffs Game 4 against
Pittsburgh  where  you  felt  like you guys were in the moment or maybe not
focused  at  the  task  at hand, and he said you guys got embarrassed.  Was
that  a  good  learning tool anyway to avoid looking at it and kind of stay
present?

MARTIN  ST.  LOUIS:   Well,  for  sure.  Obviously, at that point our
backs  are  against  the  wall.   We  had  come  off Game 3 where I felt we
probably  played one of our better games and I think got shut out 3-0.  And
the following game we weren't very good at all.

I think Game 3 was very deflating, and you felt it in Game 4, and now
our  backs  are  against the wall, and it's at a time where you can't worry
about  yesterday.   You  can't worry about Game 6.  You've just got to take
care  of  Game  5  and get in the battle and get it going.  I thought we've
done  a  good  job  at  really staying even keel and I think it's helped us
obviously keep moving forward.

Q.  Is it hard when you're so close to something and it's obviously a
goal?

MARTIN  ST.  LOUIS:   Yeah, sometimes it's harder than others to stay
even  keel.   But  we've  done  nothing  yet,  you know?  We keep reminding
ourselves  we understand the fourth game is the toughest one to win, and we
know we're going to have to bring our best and more.

Q.  Players go through a time when you're playing against friends for
former  teammates  and  stuff like that.  Can you appreciate the uniqueness
that  Alain  and  Therrien have?  While they're close friends but it's been
kind  of  contentious  for  varying  reasons  in  this series and maybe the
awkwardness that's there?

MARTIN  ST.  LOUIS:   I  think we're all competitors.  I think I have
friends around the league and once you get in a battle, there is a sense of
pride  and  a  sense  of  competitiveness  in  you that just wants to beat,
whether  it's  your best friend, your brother.  Obviously, I don't know how
good  of  friends  they are.  I know they have similar backgrounds how they
came  in  the  league  and  everything,  but I know they both want the same
thing.   As  coaches,  it's  just like players.  They're fighting for every
inch out there.

Q.   Does  having  been  in  this  situation  that the Canadiens find
themselves in now so recently, is that in any way an advantage for you guys
when you're on the other side?

MARTIN ST. LOUIS:  I don't understand the question.

Q.   You  guys were down 3-1, so you know what their mindset might be
like.  Is there any advantage for you guys?

MARTIN ST. LOUIS:  I don't know if it's an advantage for us.  I think
because  of  sometimes  you're on, you know, the other side of the coin, so
you  understand  what  they're  going through, how they're thinking and how
they're feeling.

So  that's  why  you  can't take anything lightly.  You don't want to
give  them  any  hope, you know?  I don't think it's an advantage.  I think
it's  more  of  an  understanding  what  we're  up against and I think it's
helping us to try not to get the foot off the gas.

Q.   X’s  and O’s-wise on the ice when you came to this team, did the
structure  help  you assimilate into a new team quickly kind of the way the
system  was  played or what did you find about kind of how the Rangers play
as a team?

MARTIN  ST. LOUIS:  Yeah, I can't say my transition was smooth by any
means.   When  you  come to a new team, you're trying to do the right thing
all the time, and sometimes when you're just thinking about doing the right
thing  all the time, you're not playing with your instincts as much because
you're trying to be in the right place.  The reality is it's really hard to
play a perfect hockey game.  Hockey is a game of mistakes, and it's how you
read the game along the way.

But  for me, what was very -- what stood out to me is how the Rangers
played  before  I  got here.  When I first got here the first couple weeks,
I'm  like,  this  team  plays like they're in the playoffs right now.  I've
played  on  teams  before  where  you feel you have to turn the switch on a
little  bit.   Once the playoffs start, it's a different style.  There is a
switch  almost that you try to turn on, and you talk about it, too, amongst
teammates.   We have to raise our game or there are certain things we might
have  done  in  the  regular  season, and guys, we can't do that right now.
That  wasn't  the case when I got here.  I was impressed at how they played
such  a  playoff-style hockey game.  It was very encouraging for me knowing
that  once I got going this was going to be a good opportunity because this
team is built for playoff hockey.

BRAD RICHARDS

Q.   How  much  does being in the position that they're in right now,
being  down  3-1 and having to sort of build games, how much does that form
how you have to treat this series?

BRAD  RICHARDS:   Yeah,  they'll  be a dangerous team.  Little bit of
hope  can  change  everything.   They're at home which helps even more.  We
just  did  it,  and we had two road games out of the three to win, and they
could  possibly  have two home games.  So they're going to feel comfortable
here and feel that they can win one.  They probably feel like it's going to
go 7.  So it's far from over.

Like I said, once the game starts, the 3-1 or whatever the series is
never  really  matters  anyway,  because  you're  in  the game.  I know the
feeling.   They  just  want  to  get in the game and get in the battle, and
that's  the  most comfortable place they can be right now.  So we've got to
be ready for that.

Q.   Marty  just said before he played here he watched you guys play,
the Rangers, and felt like the team played playoff style even in the middle
of  the  regular season.  When do you feel like you guys got there, and why
do you think you got there?

BRAD  RICHARDS:   From  talking  with  him, I think what he meant, we
didn't  give  a  lot  to  other  teams  for  no  reason.   We didn't play a
high-risk,  east-west  game.   Where  it seemed like he always watched from
afar  when  he  was coming and talking.  We didn't beat ourselves too often
for  no  reason.  I think going into playoffs, I've played on lots of teams
where  you, especially if you're on a talented team where you can have some
nights  where  you can rely on talent and just win on the power play or win
because you turn it on.

Although  we  have  some  talent, we've stayed pretty focused in what
we've  been  doing  all  year  and playing that north-south hockey game and
trying to limit the amount of stuff where you can hurt yourself.  Sometimes
teams  have  to  switch  it on in playoffs, and we've obviously had to do a
little  bit  there.  But we've played a certain way and probably because we
had to win to get in.  If we didn't do that in the last half of the season,
we weren't getting in.

So  we  had to kind of play close to the vest.  I know there is a lot
of  talk  about  A.V.  being  offensive  and  changing  our  game.  I don't
necessarily  think he's -- he's offensive, maybe, but we had to hammer home
details  defensively  or  we would have never gotten into the playoffs.  We
had  to take care of that part of the game.  That's just the reality of how
we  started  the season.  I think that's what, when Marty talks about it, I
think  we  played  that  way  for a long time going into the playoffs so it
benefited us.

Q.   As  players,  you guys go through the whole time playing against
friends.  Guys you've played with before.  Can you appreciate on a coaching
end  the  close  relationship that A.V. has with Therrien and their history
together,  despite  how contentious it's gotten in the series and maybe the
awkwardness of that?

BRAD  RICHARDS:  Yeah, I don't know much.  I know the hockey world is
a  small  world and we're all very fortunate to be part of it, whether it's
coaches  or  players.   You've  seen  players  play  for coaches and end up
coaching against them later in careers.  You've seen all different types of
things.

I just played against one of my longest friends in the Philly series.
I  played  with him since I was 14 years old.  It's definitely awkward, but
you  both  want to win.  It's weird to just kind of the -- it's the way our
sport  is.  I'm sure two coaches have had a past.  I don't know exactly all
of  it,  but I'm sure some day they'll look back at the series and be happy
they  got  to  take part in a great match-up Eastern Conference Final.  But
right now it's just all about winning.

Q.   Is  there  any  sense of history with this franchise and its fan
base,  how  long  it's been since they've gotten to a Stanley Cup Final and
how close you guys are to doing that?

BRAD  RICHARDS:   With  us?   I  haven't  really….   You can feel the
difference  in  the city and going to the Garden now a little bit.  But you
can't  get  involved  in  that.   That's something to look back on when the
season  is  over  or talk about it at other times.  I played on a team that
won  a  Cup  that  was  only  in  the league ten years.  We didn't have any
history  to rely on.  But it didn't bother us.  It was trying to win what's
in  front of you.  A great part of playing with an Original Six team is the
history.  But we're trying to create our own history and moving and looking
forward,  doing  that.  But hopefully we can add to some other great things
that have happened in New York.

COACH VIGNEAULT

Q.  Do you have any update about Stepan?

COACH  VIGNEAULT:  He's made the trip with us like Dan Carcillo.  The
only  player  we've  left  behind  in New York is J.T. Miller.  He's got an
upper body injury, so he won't be with us here for the next couple of days.
That's it.

Q.  Is Stepan potentially available to you?

COACH VIGNEAULT:  I couldn't say right now.  I have no idea.

Q.   Would he need to participate in the morning skate for you to put
him in the lineup?

COACH VIGNEAULT:  Yeah, that would be a minimum.

Q.   Is  it your understanding he's going to have to wear a cage when
he does come back?

COACH  VIGNEAULT:   If he does come back, it is my understanding that
he's going to need some facial protection without a doubt.

Q.  What did you think of Derick Brassard's performance yesterday?

COACH VIGNEAULT:  He played a big, strong game.  Got us a goal in the
end  of  the  second period, and in the last minute of any period, which is
definitely  a  pressure  point  in games, start of periods, end of periods,
that  was a big goal.  He played some important minutes considering we were
shorthanded for the amount of time that we were.  He's not a player that we
use  to  kill  penalties.   It  was good to see him back in the lineup, and
hopefully  he'll  just  get  better.   He  missed  a couple days there, and
hopefully he'll just get better.

Q.   There  was  kind  of  a fun shot on TV.  I believe it was Hockey
Night  in  Canada,  as  you  were driving into the Garden before Game 4 and
bumping into Michel and you had a bit of a laugh.  Can you talk a bit about
that?  Was it funny?  Was it awkward?

COACH  VIGNEAULT:   You  know what, I'd rather not say what I said at
that  time.   I  don't think you can print that.  So we'll just leave it at
that.

Q.  Were you thinking about mowing him down?

COACH  VIGNEAULT:   No, I think it's time for hockey, and if he wants
to discuss it, it's up to him.  I'll talk about hockey and I'll leave it at
that.

Q.   Because one of Pouliot's strengths is winning these puck battles
in  the  offensive zone, do you have to live with these mistakes because he
has to be aggressive to do that?

COACH  VIGNEAULT:   You  know,  as  a  coach, players bring different
elements,  and  Benoit plays on the edge a lot of times, and he hits a lot,
and he forechecks.  Sometimes they walk that fine line, and sometimes, like
last  night  unfortunately  his  first penalty was totally accidental.  His
second one I could go either way on that one in overtime there.

So you've got to live with that just like sometimes your more skilled
players,  right  before  Marty  scores  his goal he turns it over.  I mean,
you've got to live with one of the reasons why they're good players is they
play  on the edge and they try certain things.  You can't take those things
away from them.  You just got to encourage them to do it at the right time.
I think that's probably a better way of putting it.

Q.  You went right back to him after the penalty in OT?

COACH  VIGNEAULT:   Some people question how smart I am doing that, I
think.  That's fine.  That's fine.

Q.   Was there ever any hesitation?  Is it this time of year that you
don't kind of have time to sit a guy down and have a learning experience or
is that just generally your thought?

COACH  VIGNEAULT:   No,  you know, I think at this time of the year I
really  know players' intentions are to do the right things.  I know Benoit
wants  to  do  real  well, so you look at what he's doing, you look at your
options,  and  then  you  come up with what you think is the right feel for
your team.

Q.   Why  do  you  think  you  guys  have been able to assimilate new
players  so well?  Whether it's from the start of the year from last season
or the Klein comes in, Carcillo comes in, St. Louis comes in?

COACH VIGNEAULT:  I think we play a pretty simple game that's easy to
understand.   And the culture of coming into this organization is the right
one,  and I think players understand what they have to do, and they just go
out and do it.

Q.  Just ask you one more thing about Michel.  When it's all said and
done,  you guys are shaking hands when the series is over and you have that
beer  that you talked about, will it be awkward?  I know players go through
it all the time, but it's a unique situation.

COACH  VIGNEAULT:   You  know,  we  all  have  friendships  in  life.
Sometimes  friends push the limit.  You know, sometimes they do things that
you're not crazy about.  But there is a reason why they're your friends, so
relationships  are about giving and taking.  So right now he's trying to do
what  he  thinks is right and I'm trying to do what I think is right.  When
it's all over, then we're going to move on.

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