Winning in this league is what really gets you excited, and we have been fortunate to win four in a row. However, I don’t consider winning four straight a winning streak. Anytime you can take one game at a time and get close to the double digits then it really becomes a special thing. I have been involved in a few of them and it is amazing because usually at the end of a winning streak you are not playing well at all. During them though there are some games where you are just an amazing team, and that is what coaches and fans wish they could bottle up and have every night.
Winning makes practice easier, because players are doing everything with a smile on their face and are laughing and having a good time. At the same time they are working hard, but they are not thinking of it as work. Putting together a winning steak is really difficult though. This sport is extremely tough to play at the highest level because you have so many highs and lows. I felt we played really well against San Jose and felt we played good for most of the game against Nashville. I did not think we had everybody on board against Atlanta and the same thing against the Islanders. It is our job as coaches to correct that and make sure that our players know that we are not beating teams 5-0 and 6-1 every night. We are squeaking by some games and are probably not playing as well as we should be playing right now, but we are getting lucky winning. We have been a little bit fortunate. The good news is that we had two days off to work stuff out, practice it and hopefully get better at it. That being said, it is always good to win and we do a few little things to celebrate a win. One of them is that we give out a hard hat to a player who worked hard during the game. Awarding a hard hat has been going on for years. Every team does something like it, and it was Chris Clark’s idea to do it last year. Everybody gets glory to a certain extent when you are in the NHL but it seems like the people who score goals get 90 percent of it. After every win the player who previously was awarded the hard hat gives it to another player who made a difference in the game but did not necessarily score two goals. If one of our players blocked four shots in a game and makes a difference in the outcome then he can be awarded the hard hat. It is a fun thing to do at the end of every game and hopefully we do it a lot this year. I think it means a lot coming from the players. It is a team bonding thing and takes place right in the middle of the room. They get up and give a little speech about who played well and who did what and then they give it to the guy and everybody cheers. Our trainers then put the player’s number on it, so by the end of the year it will hopefully be covered in numbers. Another thing we do after a win is collect a game puck. I started collecting pucks in Lowell 10 years ago and thought it was a really good idea. We put them on a board on a wall at Kettler to remind us how many wins we have. It all goes in one area of the facility. Last year, we had 50 wins and this year we are looking for more than that. Our 2009-10 board is right next to the 50 pucks from last year. I was lucky in Hershey because we won more than the year before. Hopefully we will do the same this year.