I'm going to be writing a blog for NHL.com during the Stanley Cup Final, and this will be my first entry. Hopefully, hockey fans will able to read about what this is like from a player's point of view, and I'll tell some stories about what goes on in the next two weeks as well as others from earlier in my career.
Wednesday night was Game 1 and we won in overtime. I also scored my first NHL playoff goal, so it was a special night.
The day leading up to the game was super exciting. We had seven days off, so the guys were pretty anxious to get going. There was a lot of lead-up to the game, a lot of time to practice and sitting around waiting to play.
When the day finally came, it was just exciting to get started and get going. I tried to approach it like any other game, so it wasn't too hard to keep my normal routine. It was pretty much the same, except my nap wasn't as long as normal. It was hard to sleep with all that excitement building up.
It was kind of a slow start to the game. I think we were a little rusty. Execution and the little things weren't as sharp as they could be, and I think having seven days will do that. The ice and the humidity level wasn't helping, either, but both teams are on the same sheet of ice so we're all playing on the same sheet.
Everyone is also so excited. There are 40 guys who can't wait to be out there, so maybe some guys were overexcited a little bit. It was really nice to still be able to get the win in the first game.
On my goal, I think Noley chipped it on, that's Jordan Nolan
, and he basically did all the work. He got after the d-man and was physical on him to turn the puck over. Really, I just try to stay back with my two linemates because they are so fast and get in on the forecheck first.
I just tried to pop into an open spot and he found me right away. I just tried to get it off as quick as I could, hopefully before the goalie was set and it happened to go in along the ice. I didn't even see it go in -- I just kind of went off the reaction of everyone else.
Obviously I was really excited. To get my first playoff goal and have it be in the Final was obviously amazing. Then you have to reset and get ready for the next shift. It was still early in the game, and there's still lots of time left.
You don't want to be satisfied with just one. You want to try and go get another one, not only as a team but as an individual. Goal scoring isn't my No. 1 role, but I want to chip in whenever possible.
I had hardly done any interviews all week, and then all of a sudden after I scored a goal, everyone wants to interview you. I know there was TSN, and I can't even remember the rest. There were all the people out there [near the dressing room] at the podium.
I was joking with some of the guys that all you have to do is score a goal to get some love around here. I had so many text messages. My phone was definitely blowing up. Family, friends, people haven't talked to in quite a while. Obviously, everyone was pretty excited. Hopefully, it was one of many more, and there are many more messages to come.
I almost always call my wife and my parents after a game on the road. My wife was really excited. She was actually with me earlier in the day, and she said, “Let's go for a career high tonight and get two points, and maybe get that second playoff point.”
After getting that goal on my second or third shift, I think I still owe her one. I said she needs to keep bringing me good luck going forward.
After I got back to the hotel, my body was so tired but my mind was still going. You just keep replaying moments of the game over and over in your head. I think every single guy will tell you it is hard to go to sleep. It is just a lot of chilln‘ and hanging out until you're ready to fall asleep. You have to try and get as much sleep as you can, but not only can you not get to sleep but you have to get up relatively early as well.
That's just part of the business though. Every player feels the same way. It is nice to have the extra day off before Game 2 in that respect.
That's all for now. I have to go catch the team bus to go back to the arena for practice. I'll have more to write about tomorrow.