Here are some of the postgame quotes after Saturday’s 6-1 Devils win over the Islanders:
Describe your goal that started the offensive explosion today…
“The face-off was won to the boards and I just went down the wall, (once I got the puck) I tried to center it, it got blocked. Then I went around the net and tried to center it again, and I got a lucky bounce.”
Did you sense that the momentum shifted after that goal?
“Yeah, we came out flat in the first, the Islanders were pushing the pace, getting a good forecheck. We didn’t help (ourselves) by having all of the turnovers, but we settled down in between periods and came back in the second strong.”
What does it say about this team that you continue to win with all of the injuries?
“I think it shows the organizational philosophy, the system that’s put in place – that we can plug in (younger) guys and work as five-man units all over the ice, while still having success.”
Does that help make the transition of getting used to a new teammate easier, the fact that you have had success so far with the young players called up from Lowell?
“Yeah absolutely, because down in Lowell they’re doing the same things, so when they come in (here) nothing is a big surprise. When these young guys get a chance, due to injury, it’s a good thing in a way too; they get some experience and help out the team.”
You mentioned the team didn’t have a great start, was anything said during the first intermission?
“No, nothing really needed to be said; they came out really aggressive and maybe we weren’t ready for that. They played a good game in the beginning, but nothing needed to be said – we knew we weren’t playing very well.”
Talk about the play that you scored your goal on…
“I tipped one of Greenie’s shots and the rebound was there – I think I took about four shots at it until it finally went in.”
You got knocked down after you scored, did it matter?
“At that point you don’t really care anymore.”
You almost got a point, how close was it?
“Yeah, I’ll get more chances to score; not today, maybe next game. It was a good play, Dean (McAmmond), I like playing with him he’s a good player.”
You played with your linemates (McAmmond and Matt Halischuk) in Lowell too, did that make today easier?
“Well, it’s the same tactics, and coach wants us to work together here. He helps me and tells me to play like I played in Lowell. Short shifts and work hard.”
What was said during the timeout before the two-man advantage?
“Oh we were just figuring out who was going to go on the ice there. We haven’t had a 5-on-3 in a while, we practiced it a couple of weeks ago; we weren’t sure who was going on (the ice) there and where.”
What was your point to the official on the disallowed goal?
“My point is there’s not a whistle and a goal’s scored, so why did that play stop. If he’s not 100% sure, he can point, as to say it’s a goal, but play can continue. There should be a whistle there. The play should go on if he’s not a hundred percent certain.”
You’ve played with Patrik for a long time now, how close is he to 100%?
“I don’t think he’s there yet, I think he’s making strides though. I don’t think he feels completely comfortable yet; though today he told me coming into the game that he felt as good as he has (this season), and that’s a good sign, but it takes a little while. When you miss training camp and you miss those first few games, it tales a while to get back up to the flow; I think he’s getting closer and that’s huge for us.”
How nice is it as the captain of the team that when guys go down with injuries the young players step in and the team continues to be successful?
“It feels good. It gives us the feeling that when things happen that aren’t good, we can find a way through it. We’ve done a good job so far – but I’d like to see some guys come back, that’d be nice too. It’s great to see these young guys, it seems like when someone goes down they come in and fill that role (for us). Tonight I thought Matt Halischuk played his best game in the NHL and I think he saw the opportunity with Clarkie going down that he’s going to get a chance to play more minutes and he elevated his game.”
When a guy comes up from Lowell is there anything you say to them as the captain of the team?
“I think all of us try to make them feel comfortable, we know they’re coming here because they can play and I think today Zharky played a heck of a game for his first NHL game, he had some great chances; everybody who’s come in has really been up to the task. All we can do is try and make them feel comfortable, make them feel like they’re part of it right away.”
When you first came into the NHL who was that player for you?
“Yeah, Joe Nieuwendyk was the one for me that really took me under his wing, made me feel comfortable, part of the team. There’s that and there’s also the whole team helping to make you feel like part of the team.”
You and Brian Rolston seem to really be on the same page now…
“You have to play a few games with guys to know where they like to be; you have to communicate, you have to talk to each other and let each other know what you want to do out there. Build up chemistry or whatever you call it, comfort, that you know what each other’s going to do out there. Rollie is more of a shooter, so you have to try and get him open and create space for him and his great shot, he’s got an unbelievable shot. I think the last few games we’re playing pretty good together.”
How is it different from last year when he was at center and you were at wing, does it change a lot now that it’s reversed?
“This year he’s healthier obviously too. It’s tough to, I can speak from experience, when you start the season with injuries and you’re down, it’s not just the conditioning, it’s the hockey sense and everything. You miss that, so for him I think it’s good that he’s playing right away. Hopefully we can keep it going, he’s getting more shots every game and he needs to get those; Rollie’s a more up and down (the ice) guy, because he’s got the unbelievable shot, and I like to carry the puck, control it a little bit. Playing center is fine for me.”
Patty can you get thirty goals if you keep playing like this?
“Maybe in two years (smiling).”
How are you feeling after back-to-back games?
“I have good days, bad days. Today I felt good, yesterday I felt that I just had to work through it; I didn’t feel good at all. I just, my own feeling, was that it was my worst game in the last few years. But it didn’t seem that way when I looked at it, but I just felt like it. I was a little rundown, I didn’t feel good at all, I played a lot of minutes yesterday and also the team that we played, the Bruins play really tight, they don’t give you much. It’s going to happen; you’re going to be up and down, good games, bad games. I just have to work through it.”
Down at the other end of the ice with so many weird bounces, were you thinking about that at all?
“Well, I think when you play against a team and they started to get a little lucky – I think we dominated in the second and we hit a lot of posts, the puck wasn’t going in, we got a goal taken away also. We had to bear down and that’s what we did early in the third we were solid; we kept playing our game plan exactly what we wanted to do. We showed we can play a different type of game, because we out played them, but one shot could’ve been the difference. They had a power play that we killed off extremely good all afternoon long, so it was good.”
The way the team came back after the first period, what’s the key ingredient with your team with so many guys out?
“I think its all about intensity. I think early in the game we weren’t intense and they took advantage of us. They got the best of us. Jacques kind of just touched on it again; he said ‘just be intense’. Get to the puck and be quick, do everything quick – when we do that we’re a good skating team, with so many young guys we have to use their young legs. Hally played a tremendous game and Zharky did real well in his first game also, so it was good.”
What changed after the first period was it because of the penalty kill?
“I think that was part of it, the first part of the game we, I think our intensity wasn’t there. We turned the puck over many times; this is a team that capitalizes on every turnover. They have two great lines, as good as anyone in the league. You give them the puck, you turn the puck over (against them) and you’ll pay the price for it. We were fortunate that they didn’t score more than what they did in the first. But I think the penalty kill, that’s exactly what I told them after the first in the room — I said we played 5-on-5, we don’t have intensity and we played 4-on-5 and we were better. We’re getting chances, and I said I’d like to know the reason. Right away a couple of guys said, ‘we were more intense’; well can we bring that in the game 5-on-5? Then the second, we had a great second period, a lot of chances, its always scary when you get a lot of chances and you don’t score. We were wondering what would be the outcome; but we kept getting chances and in the third the goals came easier. We sent pucks at the net and for some reason we got the right bounces and we scored goals like that.”
How about your secondary scoring? You wanted to get Rolston and Elias going…
“They did the job tonight for sure. I think they’re on top of their game now, they’re playing good hockey and they play with confidence and they enjoy the game – you can tell when you talk to them. They feel better than they did at the start (of the season). And you look at the kids; you look at Dean, McAmmond, Zharkov and Halischuk – that was our best line in the first period. They played well through the whole game and all you could ask more would be to score some goals.”
How was Zharkov in his first NHL game?
“He was very good, solid skater, good with the puck. He’s good, he sees the ice well; he’s going to play. He’s going to be a player.”
Do Elias and Rolston have something special?
“Well Rollie’s shooting the puck with confidence, Patrik is starting to get in shape slowly, he’s skating more and if he’s skating more; you know he’s a guy that has good hands.”
How about his shot?
“I don’t know about the third goal, if their goalie didn’t see it, but he’s got a quick release that sometimes fools the goalies. Hopefully he can keep playing the same way.”