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Chris Stewart Discusses NHL Debut

by Aaron Lopez / Colorado Avalanche
Rookie forward Chris Stewart made his NHL debut last night against the Dallas Stars after being recalled by the Lake Erie Monsters earlier in the day.

Stewart, Colorado’s first-round pick (18th overall) in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, skated at right wing on a line with Cody McLeod and Cody McCormick during Friday’s contest.

The 6-foot-2, 228-pound forward was on the ice for 7:29 during his Avalanche debut and recorded two hits. caught up with Stewart on Saturday to re-hash the details of his first NHL contest.

Q: Between being called up, hopping on a plane and playing your first NHL game, yesterday had to be a bit of a whirlwind for you. What was it like?
A: “It was so exciting. I called all my family members and then had a three-hour plane ride to think about it. It was definitely a dream come true.”

Q: What was going through your head sitting there in the locker room before the game?
A: “I was thinking about my first shift. When my first shift came, I think I was out there with Mike Modano. Honestly, I fell down twice my first shift; I couldn’t even stand up. My brain was going a million miles a minute and it felt like my legs weren’t moving. It was a great experience and was well worth the wait.”

Q: You often hear guys say that after you get your first shift or two out of the way, your instincts take over and it becomes just another hockey game. Did you feel that was the case?
A: “Definitely. After the first period you kind of realize that you’re here for a reason and you can play with these guys. You stop letting your emotions get the better of you and you start playing hockey from that point on."

Q: As a player who’s used to playing 20 minutes a game, how different was it to only skate for about eight minutes last night?
A: “You can’t take any shift for granted. If you’re not playing that much, you’re looked upon to do other things like make big hits and bring some energy to the team. If that’s the role you’re given, you have to make the most of it."

Q: Now that you’ve had some time to reflect on it, how would you evaluate your debut?
A: “I was pulling for the win. I was pretty pumped up when we tied it in the last minute. But I thought it was a good first game and I’ll just try to build off it.”

Q: What lessons can you take from your debut and apply to your next game?
A: “Just the little things. You have to know the goalies you’re playing against. A couple of times I chipped it in and it went right to Marty Turco. You have to know that he plays the puck really well and is like a third defenseman out there. Puck placement and little things like coverage in the defensive zone are things you have to adjust to.”
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