Via phone, BostonBruins.com caught up with Bruins defenseman Mark Stuart. Mark talked about the NHL playoffs, the World Championships and being a member of Team USA.
How does it feel to be playing so far into the spring with Team USA? Are you tired? I'm feeling good. It's kind of weird, but the way I look at it, if we'd continued to go farther in the playoffs, I'd still be playing anyway. I was obviously tired, physically and emotionally, after losing to Montreal, but this has been a fun opportunity, so you kind of get a second wind.
You were named an alternate captain of Team USA. What emotions did you have when you got the word? I was extremely honored. Any American kid would be thrilled to get that "A." And fortunately, I have been around USA Hockey a lot. I got to play in the program and play on some World Junior teams. So, I take a lot of pride in [wearing the colors] and was very flattered.
Has all of this taken the sting out of exiting the playoffs with the Bruins? I don't think so. It's still hard to watch the playoff games. You just think about what it would have been like if we were there -- how close we were to getting in that second round -- and then you think backward from that. I still think about it. I am happy with what we accomplished, but it's something that will stick with me probably until we get back at it in August and September.
Team USA's roster is very young. How has that dynamic played out? I think we've got a lot of young talent on this team and those guys have stepped up, like Patrick Kane and Phil Kessel, just to name a couple of the guys. They have all produced…but I think everybody has chipped in and we've got some good goaltending.
Kessel had an amazing end to his NHL playoffs. How is he doing up in Halifax? Phil has really stepped up his game. He realizes how good he can be and I'm really happy to see, not only how well he did at the end of our series with Montreal, but how he's really stepped it up in the tournament. He brings great speed, and for opposing defensemen that's tough. If you are one on one, he'll take you wide and use his speed. But he's also got that shot that he uses, especially on the power play. So I think those two things make him an offensive weapon.
You had a non-goal count against the team in your last game versus Finland -- the puck clearly went through the side of the goal. How did the team deal with that? It was just one of those things. Everyone on our bench knew that it wasn't a goal, but when it was called a goal there was really nothing anyone can do. It's just one of those things where it was the wrong call. But it was the call and I think everyone knew that they had to just move on. In those kinds of situations you hope that you still get the win. But, you know what, we can't blame that. We got outplayed for certain parts of that game and got outshot, so you have to look at those things as well.
You bounced back huge against Norway, and face the Finns again on Wednesday. What is the gameplan? Monday, we had a 60-minute effort and I think that is what we need to do. I think everyone understands the system and it's just a matter of doing what we are supposed to for the entire game. Myself, I just try to be physical and take the body and play well on the penalty kill. In these tournaments special teams are huge -- a lot of penalties are called -- so the power play is big and the penalty kill is big. I'm not a power play guy, so I need to get the job done on the penalty kill
Team USA takes on Finland for a chance at the Semifinals Wednesday night. JB