Off the Ice with…Martin Biron

Recently I was able to screen New York Rangers goaltender Martin Biron long enough to ask him a few questions about the life of an NHL goalie, as well as his favorite movie, TV shows and what he brings with him on road trips. Biron is a 33-year-old from Lac St. Charles, Quebec, who was originally drafted by Buffalo in the first round (16th overall) in 1995. Over his 13 NHL seasons his record is 212-178-49 in 469 games, with 26 shutouts, a 2.63 GAA and a .910 save pct. He is considered one of the ‘good guys’ of the NHL, always a good interview and trust me — he has never met a microphone he didn’t like. His best season to date was probably in 2001-02 when he won 31 of the 72 games he appeared in for the Sabres and posted a stellar 2.22 GAA.

Biron finally made the Sabres roster as a regular during the 1999-2000 season, as the backup to future Hall-of-Famer Dominik Hasek and finished the year with a 19-18-2 record and five shutouts. In total he played parts of nine seasons in Buffalo, but never really had a hold on the number one goalie job. After finally taking over when Hasek left to play in Detroit, Biron broke his thumb and the Sabres called up Ryan Miller, who is still the starting netminder in Buffalo’s crease today (see: 2010 Vezina Trophy, 2010 Silver Medal for Team USA). During the 2006-07 season, Biron was dealt to Philadelphia and the following season he helped lead the Flyers to the East Finals before losing against Pittsburgh. He stayed in the Philly for a total of two and a half seasons and in 2009-10 he served as Dwayne Roloson’s backup with the New York Islanders, but he had only signed a one-year contract there. This past summer, he inked a two-year deal with the Rangers, to give All-Star Henrik Lundqvist (who has been overplayed) some more games off.

So far this season he has done exactly what the Rangers have asked of him — in seven games he is 4-2-0 with a save percentage of .907 and a 2.33 GAA. So just who is Martin Biron off the ice? Read on:

Dan Rice: What do you remember about your first win in the NHL?

Martin Biron: “Oh, I remember I got called up from Rochester (AHL) to play against Dallas at home, in Buffalo; I was having a pretty good year in Rochester, (my second year there). A bunch of my buddies from Pee-Wee hockey and Bantam hockey from Quebec City decided to drive up, so they were at the game. I remember Rob Ray made a joke, a funny comment before the game, between warm-ups and the start of the game, he said: ‘Don’t worry Marty, if it doesn’t go well, you’ll get over it; we all do.’ It was a subtle comment, but relaxed me before I had to play against the defending champion Dallas Stars. I played a solid game, we won 2-1; it was one of those days where I don’t remember what happened in the game. It was so crazy and I’ve played so many games between now and then, but I remember little things like that. At the end of the game — the excitement of having your first NHL win was incredible. Then we had a huge snowstorm, so the next day we got snowed in and didn’t have practice; so I got to sleep in and enjoy the first win a little bit more! A couple of days later we played Philadelphia and tied 1-1, so I had a really good week my first week in the NHL.”

DR: Do you have the puck from that first win?

MB: “I do. It’s at my parents’ place right now on a plaque in the basement. I’ve got a picture that my sister-in-law got me in a frame, and it’s engraved: first NHL win, Dallas 1, Buffalo 2 with the date. It’s kind of funny because I have my arms up and I’m on one leg celebrating the win (smiles).”

DR: What are your memories from the day you were drafted?

MB: “It was so exciting. It was in Edmonton in 1995, there was a lot of excitement in not knowing where you were going to be drafted. Was I going to go in the first round or not? I had talked to a lot of teams, but funny enough I hadn’t talked to Buffalo at all. Four picks before Buffalo was to pick made a trade — they traded (Alexander) Mogilny to Vancouver and in exchange they got (Mike) Peca and an extra first round pick. They picked Jay McKee with that pick and then about three picks later it was their time again and I was sitting there and saw the NHL people coming over to my section, cameras starting to get ready; I kind of had an idea that they may take me with that second, first round pick. I heard my name and when I went on stage I remember posing with the team’s personnel, just standing there and one of the guys said to me ‘You can wave to the crowd.’ I kind of just waved my hand and was shy, didn’t know what to do really. It was a very fun day — my whole family was there, it was a lot of excitement.”

DR: Do you have a best friend in the NHL?

MB: “Yeah, me being a goalie it’s kind of funny because a lot of guys are usually good friends with their D-partner or their linemate; for me as a goalie, you play with so many guys and you get to be good friends with your goaltending partner. Over the years I’ve gotten to be really good friends with JP Dumont, in Buffalo we were roommates together. I am really, really good friends with Danny Briere, we were roommates together in Buffalo after JP left for Nashville and then we played together in Philly for a couple of years. Some of the guys I have played with I stay close with in the summer like Jay McKee, Michael Peca — those are guys that in the summertime in Buffalo we do the family thing, going out together and always keep in touch; text or talk once in a while during the year. Those are probably the closest group of friends I have around the league right now.

DR: Do you have a favorite sport other than hockey?

MB: “I do, I’m a big golf fan; I like to play, but I don’t play as much as I used to. My little guy is six now and he wants to play, so it’s fun. We go to the range and go to the course a little bit. I love baseball; I’ve always been a big fan of the game. I loved it growing up; I still play slo-pitch during the summer. That’s so much fun during a nice summer day. I’d say those are my two top sports outside of hockey.”

DR: What’s your favorite movie?

MB: “Movies kind of change, they come and go. It depends on what kind of mood you catch me in. One of my favorite movies would be The Negotiator with Samuel L. Jackson and Kevin Spacey. Every time that movie is on I get drawn to it, I like the excitement of it and the mental aspect of it; I think it’s a really well done movie. It’s one of those you pop into the DVD player once in a while just to watch it again.”

DR: What’s your favorite TV show?

MB: “I love The Office, my wife and I watch it all the time. Now she’s gotten me into Modern Family, that show is so funny; definitely one of my favorites. Another one that I like is Entourage, I got to meet the guy that plays E (Kevin Connolly) being in Long Island last year and he’s a huge Islanders’ fan. It’s kind of fun when you get to meet somebody and see them on the TV. Those are my favorite TV shows right now.”

DR: Typically, what do you bring on a road trip?

MB: “Typically I bring my iPad, my Kindle and I will bring a change of clothes depending on how long the trip is. My iPhone, my iPad, my Kindle are usually the things that I bring with me everywhere. I never liked to read much, and my wife got me a Kindle a few years back and now I’ve read so many books on that thing. I don’t know, I’m just a gadgety kind of guy, so I think that thing is kind of cool. I always have that with me and I always carry my Bible with me, we are a Christian family and with the kids; it’s always something I like to go back to. Those are the things that always stay in my bag and the rest of the things, they change around depending where we go and how long I am gone for.”

I hope everyone enjoyed learning about Martin Biron and if there is a player you’d like to read about in a future column or have a question you’d like to see a player asked, let me know:

Dan Rice can be reached at drdiablo321@yahoo.com

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Overachiever/Underachiever…

With the season almost a month old and today being a rare off day for all 30 NHL teams, I figured it would be a good time to look at each team and see which players have caught my eye as under and overachievers.

Anaheim:

Over —  Teemu Selanne: at age 40 the Finnish Flash still has some gas left in the tank with 12 points (5g-7a) in 12 games. He didn’t want to retire the same summer as Scott Niedermayer, so expect this to be Team Teemu’s swan song.

Under — Jonas Hiller: Only 3 wins in 9 games played with a ghastly 3.13 GAA after the last two seasons when he posted 2.73 (2009-10) and 2.39 (2008-09).

Atlanta:

Over — Andrew Ladd: after winning the Cup with Chicago, Ladd was a salary ‘cap-rifice’ and traded to the Thrashers where he has tallied 12 points (4g-8a) in 11 games.

Under — Bryan Little: There are a few choices here (Antropov, Modin, Bogosian), but I’ll go with Little who has seen his goal production drop from 31 (2008-09)  to 13 (2009-10) to 1. More is needed out of the 12th overall pick in 2006 if Atlanta is going to make any noise this season.

Boston:

Over — Tim Thomas: Sure he won the Vezina Trophy two seasons ago, so we shouldn’t be too surprised by his success, but take a look at these numbers: 6-0-0 in six starts, 3 shutouts and a GAA of 0.50!! The Drew Carey lookalike is pain-free and found his game again.

Under — Blake Wheeler: Only two assists in eight games; he could be trade bait once Marc Savard is ready to return from post-concussion syndrome.

Buffalo:

Over — Tyler Ennis: He has seven points this season (in 12 games) and entered the season with nine career points in 10 career games, so not much was expected of the youngster.

Under — Tyler Myers: The reigning Rookie of the Year may be falling victim to the ‘sophomore jinx’ because he is an NHL-worst  minus-10 this season…yikes!!

Calgary:

Over — Brendan Morrison: The guy didn’t sign until after training camp and leads the team with 10 points (3g-7a) in 11 games; ’nuff said.

Under — Jarome Iginla: The team’s captain and heart & soul has only two goals so far, which isn’t very good for a guy with 443 career goals and nine consecutive seasons with 30-plus goals.

Carolina:

Over — Jeff Skinner: The youngest player in the league (18) is tied for the team lead with seven points (3g-4a) and the seventh overall pick in last June’s draft hasn’t looked out of place at all.

Under — Brandon Sutter: After wetting our appetites with 2 goals in the season-opener, Brent Sutter’s son has only managed one measly assist in the following nine contests.

Chicago:

Over — Patrick Sharp: Leads the NHL in goals (10) and is third in points (15); eh, what Cup hangover?

Under — Niklas Hjalmarsson: The Hawks wanted to keep him so bad they let Cup-winning goalie Antti Niemi go to San Jose; now the blueliner has 0 points in 11 games & is a minus-8.

Colorado:

Over — tie, John-Michael Liles or Chris Stewart: Liles has 11 assists in 11 games (t-1st in NHL); Stewart has two hat tricks and is second in the NHL in points (16) and goals (9).

Under — Craig Anderson: The goalie’s play last season meant so much to the young Avs as they made the playoffs; this season he is 3-4-0 and hurt his right knee during warmups this week, and is out indefinitely.

Columbus:

Over — Chris Clark: He has six assists in eight games for the low-scoring Blue Jackets.

Under — Rick Nash: Only five points (3g-2a) through the first ten games and is a team-worst minus-8. Not good enough.

Dallas:

Over — James Neal: The third-year pro is off to a nice start of 10 points (5g-5a) in 10 games and could surpass hsi career-high of 55 points set last season.

Under — Jamie Benn: After 41 points in his rookie season, he has gotten off to a slow start with one goal and five points through seven games.

Detroit:

Over — Jimmy Howard: Nice record (4-0-1) in his second full season with the mighty Red Wings; he is proving that he’s the real deal and learning from vet Chris Osgood everyday.

Under — Mike Modano: He scored on his first shift as a Wing but hasn’t done squat since. Perhaps he should have just walked away after 20 years with the Stars organization.

Edmonton:

Over — Jordan Eberle: The rookie has eight points in his first nine games and two highlight-reel shorthanded goals; keep an eye on this kid.

Under — Andrew Cogliano: Only has two points in nine games; he should be better in what is now his fourth full season with the Oilers.

Florida:

Over — Marty Reasoner: The journeyman has seven points in his first nine games for the Panthers, giving them some much-needed offense.

Under — Stephen Weiss: One of the longest tenured Cats is having a rough start with only three points through eight games and he’s a minus-6.

Los Angeles:

Over — Jaret Stoll: Just about every team would take 10 points (4g-6a) from their third-line center through 11 games.

Under — Drew Doughty: Only one point in five games, plus he suffered a concussion.

Minnesota:

Over — Matt Cullen: Ten points in ten games was probably not expected when they signed the reliable center during the summer, but the traditionally offense-starved Wild will take it.

Under — Martin Havlat: The talented, yet oft-injured winger should have more than six assists in the club’s first ten games. Chances are he will be dealt at some point this season.

Montreal:

Over — Carey Price: The young goalie looked abysmal during the preseason, but he has rebounded nicely with a 6-3-1 record putting the Habs atop the Eastern Conference standings.

Under — tie, Scott Gomez, or Brian Gionta: The two ex-Devils have one goal and two assists each in 11 games, and are no longer considered the Canadiens top line.

Nashville:

Over — Anders Lindback: Another year, the Preds produce another young goalie. The rookie is 3-0-1 in his first four NHL starts. One of these years people will realize that Barry Trotz is a great coach.

Under — Patric Hornqvist: After posting 30 goals last season, he has only potted 3 in ten games this year.

New Jersey:

Over — tie, Matt Taormina or Dainius Zubrus: Taormina, a rookie defenseman, is tied for the team-lead in goals with three; Zubrus leads the team in points (7), and assists (6).

Under — Martin Brodeur: The all-time leader in wins is off to a rocky start (3-7-1); is it his age (38) or the amount of rookie defensemen (3) in front of him on a nightly basis?

NY Islanders:

Over — James Wisniewski: The late-summer acquisition has been excellent for the Isles with a team-leading 11 points (2g-9a) in nine games; his performance has been equal to what you would expect from Mark Streit, who is out until March with a shoulder injury.

Under — Trent Hunter: Two assists in eight games;  coupled with the fact he has never come close to duplicating the 51 points he put up in 2003-04 make you wonder why he is still on the Islanders and in the NHL.

NY Rangers:

Over — Ryan Callahan: Even before Marian Gaborik went down with an injury, more was expected of Callahan this season; he has been the Rangers most consistent performer with a team-leading 11 points (4g-7a) in 10 games.

Under — tie, Gaborik or Chris Drury: They’ve played a combined four games this season, which may explain why the Blueshirts are playing like a .500 team.

Ottawa:

Over — Pascal Leclaire: Injured again and sporting an 0-2-1 record; if the Sens are smart they’ll stick with Brian Elliott or start looking to make a trade for a real no. 1 goalie: see Martin Biron, Jonathan Bernier.

Under — Milan Michalek: It’s tough when you are traded for a 50-goal scorer like Dany Heatley; it’s even tougher when you only have five points in ten games and no points on the PP.

Philadelphia:

Over — Sergei Bobrovsky: The latest in a long, long, long line of Flyers goalies has started the season strong, going 5-2-0 in his first seven NHL games.  Not bad for an undrafted free agent.

Under — James van Riemsdyk: More was expected of van Riemsdyk in his second NHL season, but so far he only has four assists in 11 games.

Phoenix:

Over — Eric Belanger: All that can be said is that Belanger leads the team in scoring with six points in ten games.

Under — Shane Doan: The Coyotes captain has only two points, both assists, in seven games; both points came in the same game.

Pittsburgh:

Over — Brent Johnson: The ‘backup’ goalie has a 5-0-1 record this season with one shutout and a 1.16 GAA.

Under — Marc-Andre Fleury: The ‘starting’ goalie has a 1-5-0 record this season with a 3.35 GAA; can you say goaltending controversy?

San Jose:

Over — Antero Niittymaki: The ex-Flyer and Lightning goalie has started the season strong with a 4-0-1 record for the hungry Sharks, and for the moment has the no. 1 job over Antti Niemi.

Under — Devin Setoguchi: Only one goal and one assist through nine games is a disappointing start for the 8th overall pick in 2005.

St. Louis:

Over — Alex Pieterangelo: He is tied for the team lead in +/- with a plus-6 as the 4th overall pick in 2008 looks to stay with the Blues for a whole season finally.

Under — Brad Boyes: Only has one goal in nine games and its beginning to look like he won’t ever reach 43 goals again like he scored in 2007-08.

Tampa Bay:

Over — Steven Stamkos: Okay, I knew Stamkos was good, but he is turning into a superstar and has Hart Trophy written all over him; and turning Tampa into a force to be reckoned with in the East. 19 points, 1st in the NHL. 9 goals, 2nd in the NHL. 10 assists, tied for second in the NHL.  plus-9, 2nd in the NHL.

Under — Simon Gagne: His first season with a team other than Philly has been a disaster. No points in six games, and now is on IR with a stiff neck.

Toronto:

Over —Clarke McArthur: He had five goals in his first four games as a Leaf, and has given them the second line scoring they so desperately need to stay in contention for a playoff berth.

Under — Kris Versteeg: Aside from the goal and assist he posted in game two of the season he has done nothing else for the Leafs and is a prime candidate to be traded if Toronto continues to play well.

Vancouver:

Over — Corey Schneider: He has made two starts and gave up only one goal in each; he is sporting a sparkling 2-0-0 record with a .970 save%.

Under — Roberto Luongo: The former captain of the Canucks has stumbled out of the gates this season with a 2-3-2 record and no shutouts.

Washington:

Over — Michal Neuvirth: He has taken the no. 1 goalie job away from Semyon Varlamov and ran with it, going 7-3-0 with a 2.15 GAA for the high-flying Caps.

Under — Mike Knuble: One goal and four points in 11 games, no PP points.

Devils-Stars line combos/postgame quotes

Here are the line combinations from Friday night:

New Jersey:
Parise-Zajac-Kovalchuk
Elias-Arnott-Langenbrunner
Rolston-Zubrus-Clarkson
Leblond-Pelley

Volchenkov-Fraser
Tallinder-Greene
White-Taormina
Urbom

Dallas:
Neal-B.Richards-Eriksson
Morrow-Ribiero-Burish
Benn-Wandell-Ott
Peterson-Sutherby-Segal

Grossman-Robidas
Daley-Fistric
Niskanen-Skrastins

And here are the postgame quotes I was able to record:

Martin Brodeur:

Talking about the game…

“It’s been six days since we played a hockey game so, I think with the environment, we were really excited to get (the season) started; things like that happen once in a while. It’s behind us now; I thought we played well in different parts of the ice. Defensively I thought we did a good job, just little turnovers here and there that were not really necessary and they capitalized on it.”

Was it a good shot that Loui Eriksson scored on the winner?

“Yeah, it was a tough shot, a tough play for everybody. It’s pretty rare that we practice that — a 2-on-1 from there zone — the guy had lots of time. I think (Brad) Richards was well covered and it became almost like a breakaway; he was able to pick a corner.”

Was the game a little more wide open then you would have liked or is that the way this team is going to play?

“I think it’s going to be what it’s going to be. It felt wide open because of the excitement of the game, but I think guys didn’t have much room to make plays, especially in our zone.”

The crowd was loud and into it tonight…

“Yeah it was fun, it was disappointing to not get a win for them because they supported us real well. It was playoff hockey out there, it’s the first game, there’s a lot of excitement building up for the opener and it was fun to be a part of it.”

It seemed like the turning point was when (Ilya) Kovalchuk almost made it 3-0 and hit the post and then they came down and scored shortly after…

“That’s hockey; we have to capitalize — he made a great shot, it just didn’t go in. Same thing the way Richards beat me clean and hit the post there in the third. It was the first game. I think we have to be somewhat pleased with some of the things we did, but we just have to clean it up a bit.”

Big challenge coming up tomorrow night going to Washington?

“Yeah it’s always a challenge to go there. They’re a good offensive team so we’ll have to play well defensively and expose what their weakness is. I don’t know what changes they made, I don’t know what kind of team they have (yet), I haven’t really looked. I’ll look tomorrow at what they have and try to expose what they need to.”

Washington tomorrow, Pittsburgh on Monday so things don’t get easier…

“Hopefully it will get easier later (laughs), that’s the way it goes usually. But it’s pretty rare that we start (the season) with so many games, like six games in ten days. Usually we trail teams by three games after the first week in games played, so this will be a little different look; we just have to get going quicker.”

Will you be starting tomorrow?

“I’ll be on the ice somehow.”

Zach Parise:

On your goal did the puck bounce a little bit on you?

“No, I was originally going to try and pass it back to Kovy, I kind of picked my head up and saw that (Kari) Lehtonen was down and out so I had some net to shoot at.”

How was Dallas different after they called their timeout?

“I don’t think they really did anything differently, I think we kind of did a lot of things to ourselves by turning pucks over.”

Travis Zajac:

Obviously a disappointing result, but how do you feel you guys played out there tonight?

“I think we had some good spurts during the game. During the first and third I thought we played well, in the second period was when we turned the puck over a little too much and gave them some life; that’s where they got some scoring chances and goals from. We just have to be better in that aspect of the game — and we will be. It’s the first game, we did some good things and hopefully we can continue to build.”

Can you talk about the play where you scored on?

“We came up the ice on a 3-on-2 and Kovy made a good pass to me in the middle. I kind of fanned on the shot or it got tipped or something and I got lucky and the puck got through the goalie.”

It was kind of a soft shot, was that your changeup?

“Yeah, exactly a little changeup. We’ll get better as the games go on here.”

How was John MacLean behind the bench in his first NHL regular season game as a head coach?

“He was good, he was vocal, he was encouraging us positively the entire game. That’s what you expect from a coach. It was his first game and I’m sure he was excited to be there. He’s a good fit for us.”

I heard your former teammate Bobby Holik say on the radio the other day that you will be one of the most improved players in the league this year, your response?

“(laughs) I guess I owe him a diet coke or something. I’ve been working on my game and trying to get better; I’m playing on a line with two great players so I’m sure they’ll make me look good a lot of the time.”

 

IRON MEN

In honor of the kick-ass IronMan 2 movie, here are the 88 NHL players that played in all 82 of their teams games this past season.
Quick Hits: Calgary had 7 players appear in every game, including defenseman Ian White (traded midseason from Toronto) who played in a league-high 83 games. Vancouver’s Henrik Sedin led all Iron Men in points with 112 and Toronto’s Colton Orr had the fewest points (six) among those who played in every game. Colorado was the only team that didn’t have at least one player suit up for all 82 games. Only three rookies survived to play in every game — NY Isles’ center John Tavares, Dallas winger Jamie Benn and Buffalo defenseman Tyler Myers.

Anaheim: Jason Blake, Corey Perry
Atlanta: Maxim Afinogenov, Tobias Enstrom, Rich Peverley
Boston: Michael Ryder, Blake Wheeler
Buffalo: Tyler Myers, Jason Pominville, Henrik Tallinder
Calgary: Jay Bouwmeester, Mark Giordano, Niklas Hagman, Jarome Iginla, Eric Nystrom, Matt Stajan, Ian White
Carolina: Tom Kostopoulos
Chicago: Dustin Byfuglien, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Andrew Ladd, Patrick Sharp
Colorado: none
Columbus: RJ Umberger, Antoine Vermette
Dallas: Jamie Benn, Loui Eriksson, Stephane Robidas
Detroit: Todd Bertuzzi, Nicklas Lidstrom, Brad Stuart
Edmonton: Andrew Cogliano, Tom Gilbert, Dustin Penner
Florida: Keith Ballard, Michael Frolik, Bryan McCabe, Steven Reinprecht
Los Angeles: Dustin Brown, Drew Doughty, Anze Kopitar
Minnesota: Kyle Brodziak, Andrew Brunette
Montreal: Josh Gorges, Tomas Plekanec
Nashville: David Legwand, Steve Sullivan, Ryan Suter
New Jersey: Travis Zajac
NY Islanders: Matt Moulson, Mark Streit, John Tavares
NY Rangers: Artem Anisimov, Dan Girardi, Olli Jokinen, Michal Rozsival, Marc Staal
Ottawa: Chris Phillips, Jarko Ruutu
Philadelphia: Claude Giroux, Ian Laperierre, Chris Pronger, Mike Richards, Kimmo Timonen
Phoenix: Adrian Aucoin, Shane Doan, Radim Vrbata, Keith Yandle
Pittsburgh: Craig Adams, Jordan Staal
San Jose: Ryane Clowe, Dany Heatley, Kent Huskins, Patrick Marleau
St. Louis: Brad Boyes, Jay McClement, David Perron
Tampa: Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis, Steven Stamkos
Toronto: Francois Beauchemin, Tomas Kaberle, Colton Orr
Vancouver: Alex Burrows, Ryan Kesler, Mason Raymond, Henrik Sedin
Washington: Nicklas Backstrom

Evander Kane KO’s Matt Cooke

Ninety-nine percent of the hockey world wants to give Atlanta rookie Evander Kane a big thank you after his one-punch knockout of Pittsburgh’s pest Matt Cooke which you can see here:

Kane KO’s Cooke

With all of the interest Kane has garnered this weekend, I figured it would be a good chance to revisit the interview that I did with the 18-year-old Kane back on October 16:

Getting to Know… Evander Kane

Dan Rice – Columnist

Recently I was able to catch up with Atlanta Thrashers rookie Evander Kane and ask him a few questions about how his first month in the NHL has been. Kane is an 18-year-old center from Vancouver, British Columbia that the Thrashers selected 4th overall in last June’s NHL Entry Draft. In eight games the 6’2”, 190 lb., Kane has not looked out of place at all, tallying five points (3g-2a) and he is averaging 13:53 of ice-time per game, a number that has slowly increased as the season moves on. And yes, he is named after the boxer Evander Holyfield and got to meet the pugilist before the season started: http://thrashers.nhl.tv/team/console.jsp?catid=656&id=

So just who is Evander Kane? Read

Dan Rice: What do you remember about your draft day?

Evander Kane: I remember I was pretty nervous, and I didn’t think I was going to be too nervous, but after the first two picks I started getting really nervous. After the third pick was done I was sweating pretty badly (chuckles); I remember Dan Marr (Atlanta’s Director of Amateur Scouting & Player Development) winking at me from the stage up there and I knew I was going to Atlanta. It was a pretty special moment and something I’ll never forget.

DR: What do you remember about your first goal? (Kane’s first goal was scored in his second NHL game in St. Louis against goaltender Chris Mason).

EK: I remember Kovy (Ilya Kovalchuk) and Pevs (Rich Peverley) making some good plays, and I remember them trying to get me the puck; it was probably the best pass I’ve gotten since being in the NHL. I just wanted to put it away and I was really excited (when I did). It was good to get it out of the way early, a lot of excitement.

DR: Do you have the puck?

EK: Yeah, I think Bogo (Zach Bogosian) picked up the puck for me and the Thrashers are framing it for me; nice job on their part.

DR: Are you superstitious or do you have a pre-game routine?

EK: No, not really. I’m not a big superstitious guy; I have a routine, but nothing major.

DR: Who’s been your roommate on the road so far and how has it been?

EK: I’m paired with defenseman Mark Popovic. He’s a great guy; he’s fun to hang out with — so it’s been going good. I’ve enjoyed spending time with him.

DR: Favorite TV show?

EK: TV show would probably have to be “Two and a Half Men.”

DR: Favorite movie?

EK: I’m a big fan of “Rush Hour 2”, “Happy Gilmore”, “Dumb and Dumber”. I like goofy comedy movies I guess (smiling).

DR: Favorite sport besides hockey?

EK: I used to be really big into soccer — I like the World Cup. I like football and basketball too, those would be my two other main sports.

DR: I know you’ve only been on the team for a few months, but who is the biggest prankster or joker on the team?

EK: I’d have to say Eric Boulton.

DR: What’s the best advice someone gave you coming into this season?

EK: Probably my Dad; he said, ‘Just don’t change your game, play your game and good things will happen.’ I think so far I’ve tried to do that and I’ve been successful, so I want to continue that.

DR: Has there been any one player that has helped you the most through this first month?

EK: Yeah I think a guy like Colby Armstrong, who’s a real vocal guy, he’s somebody that’s real easy to talk to; he’s been a big help — for me — trying to get used to the group. Guys like Ilya Kovalchuk, anytime they give you a boost it makes you feel good. Definitely those two guys and the (whole) team have been great.

I hope everyone enjoyed learning more about Evander Kane and if there is a player you’d like to read about in a future column or have a question you want asked, feel free to let me know:

Dan Rice covers the New Jersey Devils & NHL for NYCSportsnetwork.com. He can be reached at drdiablo321@yahoo.com.

Devils-Islanders Postgame Quotes [04.10.10]

Here are some of the postgame quotes from the Devils 7-1 win over the Islanders:

Travis Zajac:
A big win to secure the division title…

“It was a really big win for us; we’re trying to get ready for the playoffs here. To get scoring from all the lines, and the power play, it’s good for us going into the playoffs on a high note.”

You had four assists tonight; did you feel particularly well out there?

“I don’t think I should’ve had four, I think Zach (Parise) should’ve had the first one, so I don’t know if I had that. But, like I said, I just want to be playing my best hockey going into the playoffs. I think that’s the focus for all of us right now, make sure our game is sound both offensively and defensively; and if we do that, we’re going to make a run here in the playoffs.”


Dainius Zubrus:

You scored the first goal which got the scoring barrage started tonight…

“You think so? I don’t know; the guys were ready, we knew what’s at stake. We want to finish on top and more than anything you want to play well going into the playoffs. The guys were fired up (tonight) and played well.”

Do you feel like the team is where it needs to be heading into the playoffs?

“Well yeah, we’ve been playing much better; I don’t think you can judge by one game. If you look at the last week or so, even the last game in Florida we had over 40 shots on net, but their goalie played pretty well. I think we’re getting better and today was a good step towards the playoffs.”

You clinched the division, how important is tomorrow’s game with Buffalo?

“Well like I said, it’s important to go in (to the playoffs) playing well. We’re playing one of the top teams in the conference; it’s one of those games where you can measure yourself a little bit again. I think the second or third seed in the East will be at stake, so we want to finish as high as possible and play as well as we can.”

Dean McAmmond:

Talking about his goal…

“It was a good play by Rollie and (Rod) Pelley coming out of our end; I kind of got the loose puck, Rollie got up on their d-man. I just grabbed the puck and their d-man was flat-footed, I just got on an angle, tried to go five-hole and it went to the outside of the net, handcuffed the goalie and the shot went off the net and the back of his knee. Sometimes they go in that way.”

Do you feel the team is playing the way they need to play heading into the playoffs?

“Yeah, we’ve had some better games. You look at the game in Florida, where they worked hard, they skated hard and we just kind of relaxed there; and this could’ve been one of those game tonight if we just relaxed, we would’ve kept them in it. We focused on playing hard — once we got two or three (goals) on them, they knew it was over; I think they let off a bit too.”

What does winning the division mean to you?

“I think it’s a great deal for us, a good accomplishment. We’ve had a stop-and-go type of year where we’ve been going hard and slowly losing it, then getting back on it again. It’s nice to win some games going into the playoffs.”


Martin Brodeur:

Talking about losing the shutout…

“Games like that its going to happen, especially when you give them a power play. Five-on-five I don’t think they would’ve got anything on us; we made a little mistake and the guy hit the puck out of mid-air on the goal line there, so it is what it is.”

Do you guys not realize how hard it is to win the division?

“Well we do, we do (smiles). I think we’ve grown to expect success here and we understand how hard it is. Trust me, we go through ups and downs, you guys see it – but we live it every day; with our organization, our coaches, our GM — they want us to play well every single day. For us the accomplishment means a lot, but they expect us to do it; and we expect ourselves to do it. But we understand how hard it is, it’s not like we dominated our division, only one team – Pittsburgh. The other ones, the Rangers wasn’t that good, Philly we were awful and these guys we were 4-2 I think.”

What do you like about this team?

“I think how good we were earlier in the season helped to set ourselves up for what would happen to us today. It’s been a little more rocky, but I think making the big trade to get Kovy in our lineup, I think in the playoffs we’ll be a different team than maybe past years because of a guy like that. His presence will give Zach a little more room and other players to do different things just because we have a weapon like Kovy there that they do have to respect because he’s a pretty talented player that’s going to change games around sometimes.”

Significant game tomorrow vs. Buffalo?

“Yeah it is; it gives us the opportunity to be at home for at least two rounds if we win. It would’ve been better if they had lost tonight (laughs) to Ottawa, but hey that’s why we play 82 games. If we lose it’s not the end of the world, but it could be something nice to have.”

You’re about to win the Jennings trophy, any significance to you at all?

“I haven’t looked at the numbers, where we’re at, but for us we care about the way we play defensively even though we have a different — that’s what I like we’re more geared towards offense, compared to other years — and we’re still able to dominate in our own zone; in a league that’s more geared towards scoring goals. It’s nice to finish on top, that’s for sure.”

All you have to do is not give up eight or nine goals tomorrow…

“(knocks on the wood column in his locker) You never know my friend, it’s nice. It’s fun for some players who’ve never won one. You go into a building and look up at the banners and you’re like ‘I was a part of this, this, this’ it’s fun. I’ve been here a long time, other guys for them it’s their first one and more to come.”

Ilya Kovalchuk:

Is it a different feeling now then when you made the playoffs with Atlanta?

“Yeah a little bit, I only went once and we lose all four games, but that was a great season and great atmosphere for the playoff games. I remember that and I’m still looking for my first win, hopefully it will be really soon.”

Devils-Rangers Postgame Quotes [03.25.10]

Here are some of the postgame quotes after the Devils 4-3 shootout loss to the Rangers Thursday night:

Jamie Langenbrunner:

Talking about the game…

“We caught up to Pittsburgh a little bit; would we have played a better game had we won the shootout? I don’t know, we played a good hockey game and they won the game at the end.”

Are there positives to take out of this game?

“Absolutely, we played pretty well. They scored a lucky power play goal — that bounced off a couple of things and went in the net, and they did a good job of scoring one late. I think we played a good game; we battled hard, we missed some opportunities. It was a must-win for them and they delivered; we had opportunities to bury them and we didn’t deliver.”

Talking about his goal…

“It was a good play by (Andy) Greene hitting Patty and Patty saw me and obviously deflected it over there (to me). We connected with each other a few times for semi-breakaways, breakaways, and finally one went in. I thought we did a lot of good things tonight and if you do that and get those chances, we’re going to score goals.”

Martin Brodeur:
Talking about the tying goal…

“I think they sent the puck behind the net and we went chasing after it. The guy made a pretty nice pass — he faked on his forehand and went to his backhand — and (Chris) Drury was all by himself there. He was so close, it’s kind of hard (to stop it), if he hits a hole, it’s going to go in.”

Could you tell on the shootout goal by Erik Christensen that it was a goal?

“I didn’t see it. I heard it hit the post, then the other post and I felt it go on my back; I just tried to make sure I wasn’t going to knock it in. The linesman knew right away it went in.”

Does it sting a little more because it was the Rangers?

“No; it was an emotional game. I thought we played real hard, real well. We did a lot of good things out there, we just didn’t get the job done at the end of the game and that’s the bottom line.”

It seems like when you play these guys; it’s hard to get more than a one-goal lead…

“When there’s a rivalry, emotional-wise, it’s always a roller coaster when you play them. They’re competing to save their lives these guys, so we knew they weren’t going to roll over.”


Zach Parise:

Talking about missing out on jumping ahead of Pittsburgh in points…

“We still have a game in hand, but it would’ve been nice to get that extra point. We played pretty well; I thought we just have to be a little bit better.”

You out-chanced them tonight; does that make it more frustrating?

“I thought Lundqvist made a big difference (for them); we outplayed them, out-chanced them, like you said, a lot of good things came out of it. It was just unfortunate we didn’t win.”

Did you get the shot that you wanted during the shootout?

“Yeah, I got my shot off, he made a nice save. I got the shot I wanted, that’s where I wanted to go.”

Patrik Elias:

What went wrong on that last play where they scored?

“You can analyze it as much as you want; maybe you have to win the face-off right from the get-go. They put it behind the net. Either be aggressive or maybe be a little more patient, because we left a guy right there on the goal line. It just happened; it’s too bad because we had control of that game.”

Talking about his goal early in the third…

“Those guys, Clarkie and Zubie, did a good job getting the puck deep and holding onto it there. We had good changes going on today, Nieds came off and I jumped on as the fresh guy and just went into the slot; it was a nice pass by Clarkie.”

You had a SH breakaway early in the game, were you unable to settle the puck down there?

“Is that what you saw? Well you saw more than me then. No, I just made the right play, the right move that I wanted; he stayed deep and didn’t give me much room there. He played well tonight.”

Henrik Lundqvist:

Talking about his team’s record in overtime/shootout…

“We haven’t had a good record at all in overtime; it’s funny how sometimes we give up a lot of scoring chances in overtime, but we managed to take it to a shootout and it was great to see us score right away. That gives me confidence to be more patient against my shooters.”

What’s going through your mind when Drury scores that goal?

“I didn’t even look; I was talking to Alex (Auld) on the bench (laughs), complaining about not winning and then from nowhere we tied the game — it was a great feeling. To stay alive, we needed this.”

Did you know anything about the shooters in the shootout?

“No, not at all; I just try to approach it the same way no matter who I’m facing. They’re good shooters; I’ve faced them a lot over the years and you have to respect them a lot, but today was my day.”