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Stressful times around NHL rinks

by Phil Coffey

The stress of losing is definitely getting to L.A. Kings goaltender Jason LaBarbera.
Teams are packed into the standings like sardines these days.

In the Eastern Conference, a mere handful of points separate the last-place team from a playoff berth, and in the West, only the Los Angeles Kings have fallen off the pace. The tension levels are rising as teams jockey for position.

Here are some stress-related quotes.


“Everybody is pretty miserable right now. It’s stressful. I’m stressed out. A lot of guys are stressed out.”

-- Kings goalie Jason LaBarbera after Los Angeles lost its seventh straight game Saturday night in Nashville.


“I think this year more than ever shows how tough a lot of teams are and how tough everyone’s season is going to be. I think it’s going to be like this for the rest of the season, a lot of teams fighting for a playoff spot.”

-- Maple Leafs captain Mats Sundin.


“We know where we are at and we’re concerned. But we also know that if we go out and have a good week, we’re right back there. We have a couple of games in hand on a lot of those teams, and if we win those we’re right back up.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen it where it’s been so tight. It’s really kind of amazing. We are concerned, but we know we can get better and be right where we want to be.”

-- Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Derian Hatcher.


“By no means does this mean my situation is more comfortable. My job is to win hockey games and wherever that leads. I am not worried about, ‘Do I have three, four, five, two, one more year after this?’ That doesn’t make any difference. My job is the next four months and to win.”

-- Bruce Boudreau after the Capitals dropped “interim” from his coaching designation.


“I was the worst player on the ice. I was terrible; it’s as simple as that. When your goalie is not making stops, it puts the team on the back of their heels, especially when you play a great hockey team like that.”

-- Blues goalie Manny Legace after a 5-0 loss to the Red Wings Wednesday.


“We’ve maintained a pretty steady style of play. We lost some games that we should have won. And there weren’t many games we deserved to lose. I’ve liked our work on special teams, I’ve liked the energy the third and fourth line has brought. I’m happy where we’re at.”

-- Buffalo Sabres coach Lindy Ruff.


“I know it had been a long time. It’s not easy for the confidence. When you have chances and you haven’t scored for a long time, sometimes you do things you wouldn’t when you’re hot, on a streak. You hit posts or try to make sure it’s a perfect shot. Hopefully, it’s behind me.”

-- New York Rangers forward Jaromir Jagr after scoring twice against Carolina Wednesday.


“I don’t want to say I’m getting nervous, but when I get to the rink I get the feeling that the games are coming soon. I think we’re heading in the right direction and that’s a good thing. But at the same time, I want to make sure my neck’s fine before I go back and play and not have that little feeling there and be 100 percent. But when I get to the rink I’ve got more of a feeling that I had when I was playing.”

-- Flyers forward Simon Gagne discussing the prospect of returning to the lineup after suffering a concussion.


"It doesn't matter who scores or who gets the assist, this group just wants to win. I don't know where this is going to bring us; I have no idea because you don't know what happens in the course of the season. But I know we're going to continue playing like we have. What you're seeing here is special."

-- Chicago Blackhawks coach Denis Savard.


“He (Atlanta forward Ilya Kovalchuk) never misses the net. You can just feel the goal coming. If you are in your zone and he is there and you can count to six, you know something bad is about to happen.”

-- Columbus Blue Jackets coach Ken Hitchcock.


“There was a real commitment on the part of the guys. We’ve had some ups and downs since that big start, but I think it has to do with not paying as much attention to playing hard every night as we should be. Very definitely, we’ve got a good team, we’ve got a competitive group and our best players have been very good for us.”

-- Ottawa Senators GM Bryan Murray.


“My guess would be that he (Philadelphia forward Mike Richards) hates losing more than he likes winning. Last year (a last-place finish for the Flyers) probably ate him up. Everybody likes to win but if you’re going to be a good player, you’d better hate losing more than you like winning.”

-- Flyers executive Bob Clarke.


“I am not saying there are not other divisions with great goalies, but ours is pretty elite when it comes to goaltending. That is just the way it is. Our goalies have to look at that as a challenge. Our team has to look at it as a challenge. Everybody is ready to play us, so we have to get up for it.”

-- Penguins captain Sidney Crosby.


“I’m dissatisfied with the consistency of our best players. I don’t care what the points are, and I know Vinny Lecavalier has racked up some points here in a few games where our offensive people aren’t playing well enough consistently.”

-- Lightning coach John Tortorella Saturday after a 4-1 loss to Carolina.


“He’s (Washington star Alex Ovechkin) getting older and he’s getting smarter. North American hockey is different from European hockey. He’s learning. He has such an intelligent hockey mind anyway, it only makes sense that he’s going to get better.”

-- Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau.


“Kovalchuk, Ovechkin and Lecavalier are worth the price of admission. I think it enhances our game and helps fans better understand our League.”

-- Blue Jackets coach Ken Hitchcock.


“We’ve gone through the investigative stage with players, trying to see who can play with other guys, and now we’re starting to see some chemistry.”

-- Oilers coach Craig MacTavish.


"I don't really think about it, because that's just who we are, that's who we have been. Our style does seem to fit in the new NHL, because every team can compete every game. You have to be ready to play every game, and that's what we've been doing for a long time here."

-- Dallas Stars captain Brenden Morrow.


"It's just having the guts to do it (block shots). A lot of times it's going to hurt, but you just have to suck it up and put your body in front of it, no matter how.”

-- Florida Panthers defenseman Bryan Allen.


"If you look at the (defensive) grouping we had last year, and you throw Schneids (Mathieu Schneider) into that mix, it certainly gives us a lot of options. We're able to spread the minutes around. It's a nice luxury to have."

-- Anaheim’s Chris Pronger.


"I heard a coach at a clinic once say, 'You're hired to be fired.' I don't look at it that way. I've enjoyed every phase with this organization, playing and coaching. The opportunity to continue is terrific."

-- Flyers coach John Stevens.


“You win it all (the gold medal at the World Junior Championships) or it’s an enormous disappointment. Unfortunately, I had my chance a few times and never won it, but it’s an experience I will never forget.”

-- Ottawa’s Jason Spezza.


”I think it’s very special. One thousand games, not everybody can make it, and I’m really happy I’m playing my 1,000th game against my old teammate Sergei Fedorov. We played a lot of years in Detroit together.”

-- Atlanta’s Slava Kozlov reached his 1,000th regular-season game against old friend Sergei Fedorov and the Blue Jackets.


“I can tell you 50 stories of finding ways to watch it (the World Junior Championships). When (the tournament) was in Russia, it would be three in the morning where I live and we’d be up and have people over at our house, watching it. At school, I can remember one of my teachers wheeling a TV into class and just being like, ‘The game is on. Class is going to wait.’ That’s just the way it was.”

-- Sidney Crosby.

Material from personal interviews, wire services, newspaper, and league and team sources was used in this report.



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