Below is the transcript from Travis Zajac and Zach Parise’s press conferences on media day at the Stanley Cup Finals. I also included a quote from Devils coach Peter DeBoer on naming Parise captain.
The Cup Finals begin at 7 p.m. tomorrow.
Q. Talk about the decision when you came in to make Zach captain.
COACH DeBOER: I think his reputation preceded him with how hard he works and what a pro he is. It only took me a week being around him to see for me he exuded everything we needed out of that position. He walked the walk. He was humble. He let his play do the talking for him. He had the respect of everybody in the room. We had other candidates, obvious, Elias, Kovalchuk, all the guys wearing the As. I felt very comfortable with what Zach represented and I also felt comfortable he had a very good group around him that would help him with the position, with Elias, Brodeur, Kovalchuk, Salvador, Tallinder, those guys.
TRAVIS ZAJAC Q&A
Q. Players talk about watching games from the press box. Did you learn anything during that period?
TRAVIS ZAJAC: The game looks a lot easier from up there. That’s for sure (laughter). No, you watch, you see things. But as soon as you get on the ice, that all changes. There’s a lot less time when you get back in the games. Just watching the team, watching the guys, I knew we definitely had a special group this year.
Q. How long did it take to adjust to that?
TRAVIS ZAJAC: I wasn’t here all season. But watching the guys, you know, they were great. I think as the season went on, they started to build their confidence and play better. By the end of the season, we went on a six?game winning streak in the playoffs, which is huge at that time of year.
Q. On the Kings…
TRAVIS ZAJAC: Yeah, obviously don’t know much about them besides watching video the last few days here. They look like they got some skill up front, they got big forwards. They got D men that can jump in and play. They have Doughty who is a skilled D man who can make plays. They have a great goalie back there who has played well for them in the playoffs. It’s going to be a difficult test for us.
Q. On the support from the local fans this time of year…
TRAVIS ZAJAC: This is definitely not normal. Around here, for sure. You know, you just try and enjoy it, take it all in. In the back of your mind, you know what is important, and that’s getting ready for Game 1.
Q. Has it hit you at this point?
TRAVIS ZAJAC: It’s pretty wild. Obviously a dream come true. Growing up you want to play in the Stanley Cup Final, have that chance. Sometimes you got to pinch yourself. But for us, you know, we got some work left to do and we want to be successful.
Q. You see a team that has done so well, especially on the road, how challenging are they?
TRAVIS ZAJAC: They’re a great team. Obviously for them to be here, they deserve it. They’ve beat a lot of good teams along the way. So for us it’s going to be important to get a good start, make sure maybe we can surprise them.
Q. How much has Kovy changed as a player since he came in till now?
TRAVIS ZAJAC: He’s always been successful wherever he’s played. Coming in, he wanted to work on different parts of his game, you know what, all ends of the rink. He’s a responsible player. He back checks hard. He’s great in the D zone. He recognizes when he has to chip pucks in and when he can make a play. He’s still going to go out there and make a great play and be a dynamic player. Right now he’s responsible at both ends of the ice. He’s basically a complete player for us.
Q. Do you get a sense what this means for him?
TRAVIS ZAJAC: Yeah, I mean, for us he’s been a huge part of why we’ve been successful. I know it means a lot to him. He wants to compete hard. He wants to win. We knew that. When we first got him, we saw that, the type of teammate he was, the type of leader he was. It’s just peaking at the right time and putting everything together. Right now we have that chance.
ZACH PARISE Q&A
Q. How does this feel?
ZACH PARISE: It’s excitement really. A little nervous. Maybe today now going through all this, but I guess it hasn’t really sunk in that we’re in the Final yet. But we got a lot of work. That’s the thought process. We got a lot of work to do. We know how great a team L.A. is.
Q. Did you envision the Stanley Cup at all at the end of this series?
ZACH PARISE: I try not to think about that. Like I said, there’s so much that has to be done before you even start to think about that.
Q. How do you try to keep it as normal as possible as crazy as it is?
ZACH PARISE: I’m sure once the games start that it’s going to be normal for everybody. This is all the stuff that comes around with it. It’s fun, being on the big stage. But I think once warmup starts, everyone understands where we are, what we have to do.
Q. Did you think you’d be here at the beginning of the season?
ZACH PARISE: I mean, you always believe that you do and you always hope right from the beginning that you’ve got a good enough team. But it was hard for us just because we didn’t have Travis right out of training camp. Jake got hurt. Right away the guys they penciled in as one and two centers were gone. Once Travis got back, really gave our team a lot of depth. Once he got comfortable playing again, we strung together I think six or seven in a row at the end of the season. It’s about peaking at the right time. I think the way we played against Philadelphia really, really made everyone believe that we had a really good chance, just as good a chance as everybody.
Q. Where were you this time last year?
ZACH PARISE: I think I was on a fishing trip in Canada this time last year.
Q. Did you watch Game 7 of the Cup Final last year?
ZACH PARISE: I didn’t watch Game 7. We had an option whether we wanted to come back in and watch the game or keep fishing. We decided to keep fishing. I didn’t get a chance to watch the seventh game, but we watched them all leading up to that.
Q. On playing L.A.…
ZACH PARISE: I mean, yeah. Seems like during the season you play the Rangers or Flyers every other week. We played L.A. twice, but it was in October, early games. They’ve had a lot of changes with coaches and trades. You try to be as prepared as you can. We watched a lot of video, what they’ve done throughout the whole playoffs, made us prepared. We know what to expect.
Q. On Quick…
ZACH PARISE: He’s playing with confidence. We ran into the same thing with last series with Lundqvist, with how well he was playing. Lundqvist had been playing great all the way up to the series. It’s the same. Every goalie in this league is very good. More often than not, if they see the puck, they’re going to stop it. You’re always saying the same things: get traffic around them, get rebounds, make it hard for them, stay deep. Looks like he’s playing confident. You can tell how aggressive he is with shots, how he’s challenging the plays. You can tell he feels really good about the way he’s playing.