As told to Jess Isner
Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid is keeping a diary for BostonBruins.com during the team’s 11-day road trip through Western Canada and the Midwest. In this edition, he talks about his game day routine as the Bruins prepare to face Vancouver tonight — what he eats, what he’s thinking before he steps onto the ice before puck drop, and how that postgame “win song” is selected.
It’s game day in Vancouver, and it’s just exciting for us as players as it is for the fans. You’re always eager to get out on the ice and try to get a win, no matter what happened the last time you were out there.
On the morning of every road game, we always have a team breakfast that’s available for the guys. There’s lots of different options there, so we kind of come and go at different times, according to our own routines. For an 11:30 AM skate, there’s usually a bus that leaves the hotel at around 10:15, so some of us will take the bus over to the rink; other guys like to go over a little bit early, so they’ll take a cab. If we’re close enough so that the rink is walking distance, they’ll just walk and get some fresh air before hitting the ice.
Pregame skate is a good opportunity to get our legs going and get a good feel for the puck on the morning of a game. It’s a good way to stay sharp and get ourselves prepared for the game, even though it’s eight or nine hours away. Once skate is over, there’s a pregame meal back at the hotel, and there’s lots of different options — whatever your taste is, there’s pretty much every option that you can think of. We’re taken care of really well that way. I usually always stick to chicken and pasta at lunch, and sometimes I’ll have a bowl of soup, if that’s available. Other guys might go with salmon and rice, and there’s also steak with potatoes. It just kind of depends on each guy’s individual preference.
We all get a nice big meal, and then we’ll head back to our rooms for a pregame nap. Guys vary on how long they want to sleep, but most of us are awake and dressed in time for a team snack (lots of food on game days!) before we catch the bus and head to the game.
As you probably noticed from this morning’s skate at Rogers Arena, we’re currently skating with some different defensive pairings than we started with for our most recent game against Dallas. Switching pairings isn’t as big of a deal as maybe people might think; we’ve all played with one another enough in the past, and guys know where they need to be on the ice and stuff like that. Plus, at the odd time in a game, the pairs will get switched around anyway, whether it’s for a penalty kill or a power play — whatever the case may be.
We all have a little bit of experience playing with one another, and it’s not a totally new experience when you switch partners. I started Tuesday’s game with Dennis Seidenberg, and this morning, I paired with Torey Krug. I think it’s just about getting used to each others’ tendencies, and communication is obviously a big factor when you’re playing with guys, even if you’ve been playing with them for a while. It’s always important to communicate — that goes a long way, especially when you’re playing with someone who you haven’t played with as much in the past. You just worry about what you need to do, and your partner worries about what he needs to do, and you bring it together as a tandem.
Once I get to the rink a couple of hours before game time, I usually follow the same routine. I’m not really crazy-superstitious or anything like that, but I always have the same warmup that I do right before getting ready. When you follow a similar routine before each game, it’s kind of in your head that it’s time to get your body ready to go, and you can really get mentally focused. For a lot of us guys, having routines that way just reinforces that it’s time to get going.
Once warmups are over, and you’re sitting in front of your stall in the dressing room and there’s about 15 minutes until the puck drops, that’s kind of your last opportunity to focus on what you need to do in that particular game. You’re listening to what Coach is saying his pregame speech and you’re taking that in, and you’re processing it and just reminding yourself of the things you need to do on the ice. For me, I’m getting mentally focused at that time and going over simple things — reminding myself to keep my feet moving, be strong, be aware of who I’m playing against. It might sound really simple, but at that point, it’s just reminders to make sure that you’re ready to go.
One of the best parts of getting a win is that you get to hear the win song. Usually, we’ll get a new song going for every win streak, and during that streak, we’ll stick to the same song. A lot of times, the song will be something that is popular at the time, or maybe a certain guy had a fun experience, and the song he picks reminds him of a good time. Our most recent win song was “Miami” by Will Smith. When we were in Pittsburgh in January, some of the guys met Will Smith at the hotel we were staying at, so that played into the decision. Miami is also where a bunch of the guys spent the All-Star Break.
If you can get on a winning streak and give yourself the opportunity to hear that same song after every game, it feels really good afterwards. You hear that song and it’s a reminder that you’ve accomplished what you set out to do, and that you worked hard, did your job and can feel pretty good about yourself.
What will our next win song be? Hopefully, we’ll get to decide tonight.