Last year, when B’s left wing Peter Schaefer was playing for the Ottawa Senators, he found himself in the Stanley Cup finals. This year, Schaefer, has another opportunity to play in the playoffs, this time wearing Black & Gold and before the Bruins packed up for Thursday’s game in Montreal, and before his goal in Saturday's game against the Habs, I had the chance to sit down with #72 to ask him a few questions. CC.
CC: Last year, when you were playing for the Ottawa Senators, you made it into the playoffs and advanced into the final round. Was that your first time? PS: Yeah, the first time to the finals, we lost in the Eastern Conference finals just one year before that. It’s fun, it’s exciting, and hopefully it can help bring some experience to a young team where some guys haven’t experienced the playoffs before.
How do the atmospheres between regular season games and playoff games differ? I think all the mistakes are magnified that much more during the playoffs. If you make one little mistake it could end up costing you the game and the series. As for regular season if you make a mistake you may just lose that game, and the game is over. In the playoffs and series it’s do or die, so it makes it that much more intense. Guys play a lot harder and a lot more physical.
Even though you didn’t win in the final round, you still have to be happy about making it all the way to the finals. Right? Yeah it’s great to make it, but in the end we made it to the finals and we still lost so we were the same as the guys that didn’t make it in the playoffs -- the same as the guys that lost the first and second round. I mean sure, we made it further, but you know sometimes it doesn’t make you feel any better because you still lost. To get that close and to lose it, it’s tough but hopefully I gained some experience and bring that to the Bruins. Since you have had the experience of making it into the playoffs, and all the way into the Stanley Cup Finals, do you feel that fellow teammates of yours who haven’t been played in the playoffs look to you for advice? Yeah, I think that there’s Muzz [Glen Murray], Wardo [Aaron Ward], myself, and there’s a few guys that have played some playoff games, so it’s part of our job to relax guys. We’re going to be down on games, we’re going to be down on the series, and we’re going to be up. There’s going to be all kinds of things going on, guys are going to be nervous and excited, and there are going to be injuries. I think that the job of older players, with experience and without, is to try to calm guys down, help them, and lead the way with experience.
One thing you probably wont have to help them with is getting them excited for the games. No, I don’t think that will be a problem. I think the most excited guys will be the guys who have never been in the playoffs before. It’s a new time of year for them, and like I said it’s faster, it’s a lot more physical, and if you’re not excited you’re probably going to get killed [laughs]. Besides, playing in the NHL you’ve also played in Finland and during the lockout you played in Italy Yeah, I’ve played in a couple of different countries. Once, I held out before I got traded to Ottawa [Senators]. That was when I played in Vancouver [Canucks] and ended up playing half a season in Finland, and then during the lockout, the same thing. I got sick of just sitting around at home and not playing, hearing about the lockout, and not playing the game that I love. So I decided to go over to Italy, have some fun over there and still play and practice.
Having played hockey in both Finland and Italy and also here in the NHL, did you notice significant differences between the leagues? Yeah, in Finland we practiced twice a day so it was pretty much like a full time job. It’s pretty dark over there in the winter; the sun doesn’t come up, so it was fine being at the rink twice a day. Italy was a little different. It was three or four NHL guys on each team and then everyone else worked full time jobs so we had practice at about seven-thirty at night. As for the imports, we basically did stuff until seven-thirty at night. We’d get home at about ten or eleven, go for dinner, sleep in, and then get ready for practice at seven-thirty the next night.
So playing in Italy was it a little more relaxed than playing here? Yeah, it’s totally relaxed, that’s why I kind of chose to go to Italy -- just to go have fun. I knew that there wouldn’t be that much pressure but at the same time I would still be playing.
So even through the lockout you were still able to continue to do what you love which is playing hockey? Yeah, I just got sick of being in Canada in a small town and everyone was asking you every day what was going on with the lockout, and for that minute you weren’t thinking about it then someone would come up and ask you. So I thought that it would be for the best to go over there and keep playing, keep a little bit sharp, keep your skills, and, like I said, just relax.
It must have been nice to experience something a little different, as well. Yeah it’s nice. We hadn’t been playing for a while and it’s nice to release that pressure and at the same point you don’t want to take the whole year off, or I didn’t anyway.
Switching gears a little bit, besides playing hockey, what else do you enjoy doing? It’s a tough call, I’ve been doing it for a while now and it pretty much becomes a part of you…but I find that if you don’t take a break and go enjoy yourself for a short period of time, you can kind of get sick of it.