BROSSARD, Quebec -- Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty scored the goal that clinched an Eastern Conference First Round sweep of the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday, and he's been putting the extra time off to good use.
SOG: 14 | +/-: 0
The two days off Canadiens coach Michel Therrien gave his players came to an end Friday when the team got back on the ice for practice, but Pacioretty appreciated the time to get to know his four-month-old son Lorenzo.
Pacioretty admitted he hasn't truly immersed himself into daddy duty; he has yet to change a diaper.
"I'm embarrassed to say I haven't changed one yet; I help in every other department," he said, somewhat ashamed. "I'll go home today and I'll change one."Hanging out with his son and getting his mind off hockey is of greater importance to someone like Pacioretty, who represented the United States at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
"For myself personally, I haven't had a break," he said. "I know the other Olympic guys as well we came back and jumped right into things and played a lot of games quickly. So for me, this is a good time for my Olympic break. We hope to have a season that goes much longer, so now's a time for me to get in the weight room and build up some strength that I might have lost over the last couple of weeks."
Perhaps even more important than getting physically prepared is the mental benefit of getting some time off. Pacioretty puts a lot of pressure on himself as a player to perform and takes personal slumps very hard. His series-winning goal with 42.6 seconds to play in Game 4 was Pacioretty's first Stanley Cup Playoff goal, and he admitted afterward the only thing keeping him sane was the fact the Canadiens were winning thanks to his teammates picking up the scoring slack.
The time off has allowed Pacioretty to get refreshed between the ears. The Canadiens will play either the Boston Bruins or Detroit Red Wings in the Eastern Conference Second Round, with a start date to be determined.
"You get physically tired, but you get mentally tired as well," he said. "Whether you say it or not, you're always worried about your game and how you play. Knowing you've got to play better is a stress level that comes with our job. For me now, and most of the guys too, we're completely stress-free right now.
"It's a little bit of a mental vacation right now."