New York Rangers forward Derek Dorsett will be blogging for NHL.com throughout the Stanley Cup Final, offering his insight on what is happening inside the walls of his team's locker room and within the confines of the rink.
LOS ANGELES -- This is just great, being here in Los Angeles, at the Stanley Cup Final, getting ready to compete for a lifelong dream. What couldn't be great about this?
Emotions are high obviously, but guys are having fun and trying to stay loose before the puck drops Wednesday night (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, RDS). The key thing is to keep it light now, at least when we're off the ice.
On the ice we have ramped it up so we're ready for the opening faceoff in Game 1. Our two practices back home Sunday and Monday were intense. We tried to ramp up the emotions after taking Friday and Saturday off to make sure we weren't tip-toeing our way into the series.
In the playoffs your practice time is so limited because of the travel, the intensity of the games and usually having only one off day in between games. But having two days completely off and then going back into a hard, intense practice Sunday was important. We knew we had to do what we could to make sure we got that compete level back up before we flew here.
We flew Monday, and actually it was a long but fun flight. There were guys watching television shows on their iPads and computers. Eight or nine of us were playing poker, trying to keep the mood light. Daniel Carcillo had the hot hand in poker. Good thing it's all for fun.
It finally hit me what I was doing and where I was when I was getting off the plane.
I knew why I was coming to L.A., but when I got off the plane it started to sink in that I'm here to compete for the Stanley Cup, to fulfill a lifelong dream. Now that I'm here, that we've gone through media day at the Final, it's sinking in even more.
You know what also helped remind me that this is my new reality? Wearing shorts to practice. That's a new one for me. This is the first time I've played in June since the time when I used to play summer hockey back home when I was younger.
I played in the Memorial Cup in 2007 with the Medicine Hat Tigers, but that was in May. This is June, and it's the best time of year to play hockey.
And about that hockey: We're going to get going here Wednesday night and I know that my role can't change from what it has been so far this postseason. My job is to make the simple plays and help make sure our line is bringing the physicality and getting in on the forecheck.
When our fourth line gets in on the forecheck and creates havoc, it really helps our team build momentum.
Part of my game also is to get under guys' skin; to do that, you do your homework on each player. But I also just try to be relentless on guys, finish checks, go hard at them, give them a nudge when no one is looking. I think being relentless on guys bothers them.
In this series I need to be relentless on everyone.