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RED WINGS vs. KINGS / NOTES

Modry Stays Positive, Makes Crucial Contributions

April 24, 2001|HELENE ELLIOTT

Understandably, defenseman Jaroslav Modry was disappointed he was scratched from the King lineup for the third and fourth games of their playoff series against the Detroit Red Wings. But Modry didn't sulk, which contributed to Coach Andy Murray's decision to play him Saturday at Detroit and again in Game 6, Monday at Staples Center.

"If you get negative, maybe you don't dress for Game 5," Modry said. "You've got to have a positive attitude. I enjoy playing as much as I can."

Modry on Monday replaced Lubomir Visnovsky, who has a hand injury and missed his second consecutive game. Although it appears the Kings lose an element on offense without the Slovakian rookie's outstanding shot from the point, Modry has been a capable substitute.

Visnovsky had more points than Modry this season--Visnovsky had seven goals and 39 points in 81 games, and Modry had four goals and 19 points in 63 games--but Modry outscored Visnovsky down the stretch. Modry scored three of his goals in an eight-game span from March 19-April 2, while the Kings were fighting for a playoff berth. Visnovsky had no goals and four points in his last 14 games, but Modry had three goals and seven points.

"I think he comes in very strong from the point, just like Lubo does," Murray said of Modry. "He's not as much of a threat to bring the puck up ice one on one. He's more likely to give it to someone, as opposed to going one on one. In some ways that's good, because he doesn't have the turnovers Visnovsky does. [Visnovsky] can be scary.

"[Modry] has played well. Visnovsky could have played but we feel Modry at 100% is a better player than Visnovsky at not 100%. He's not just a spare part that's been hardly used. He played a majority of games for us this season."

The 30-year-old Czech is enjoying his playing time.

"This is incredible now," he said. "It's so much fun. We've got to stay positive. You know how hard it was to get to the playoffs, and it's a battle. Who wins the series is who wants it more and pays the price.

"When you see superstars like Ziggy Palffy blocking shots [as he did in Game 5] that tells you how much we want it. You see the stars doing little things and you say, 'He's committed to win,' and you play harder."

*

Lee Zeidman, senior vice president of operations for Staples Center, doesn't take kindly to criticism of the ice. But he couldn't ignore King defenseman Mathieu Schneider's comment Sunday that the ice is usually chippy, because it echoed what many players said this season.

Zeidman said he and his staff want feedback on how to improve the surface, but he acknowledged that because the building hosts so many events, there's often insufficient time to groom the ice as well as they would like. Staples Center is one of three arenas housing NHL and NBA teams still in the playoffs: Toronto's Air Canada Centre (the Raptors and Maple Leafs) and Dallas' Reunion Arena (the Stars and Mavericks) are the others.

"We started chilling down the building a little earlier than usual," he said Monday. "We had the ice crew in at 4 a.m. And we alerted the staff to make a major effort to make sure the doors stay closed and warm air doesn't come in."

Zeidman said the ideal temperature at ice level is 22-25 degrees, with 40-45% humidity. Additional cold air was pumped into the arena when the first fans entered. "We've done an excellent job pre-cooling the building," he said. "We think we've got a good ice surface [Monday]."

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