As a rookie, Jovanovski, the first overall pick in the 1994 NHL Entry Draft, was part of the Florida Panthers team that went all the way to the 1996 Stanley Cup Finals. But since his appearance in the 2004 playoffs with the Vancouver Canucks, he hasn’t played in an NHL postseason game.
Both Jovanovski and the Coyotes will end playoff droughts tonight when Phoenix takes on the Detroit Red Wings in Game 1 of their Western Conference Quarterfinal series. He says he couldn’t be happier to be back in the playoffs.
“It’s always nice,” Jovanovski said. “This is what we play for, to get an opportunity to play in the springtime. We’ve given ourselves that opportunity. We’ve just got to go and make the most of it.”
|Ed Jovanovski (left) and teammates stretch. (Photo by Norm Hall). |
Defenseman Adrian Aucoin
has known Jovanovski for over a decade and is happy that his teammate and friend is returning to the playoffs.
“He’s one of those players who makes it happen for a lot of guys, and for him to have that little drought, a lot of times it’s just a matter of circumstances, you never know where you’re going to be,” Aucoin said. “I’m very excited for him.”
Defenseman Keith Yandle
said he’s glad “Jovo” is on his side.
“It’s a good thing for everyone, especially for Jovo with the way he plays,” Yandle said. “He’s going to be a great playoff player, with the way he plays so hard and brings that edge to the game. He’s going to be a force to reckon with.”
Jovanovski, who grew up not too far from Detroit in Windsor, Ontario, has played in 58 postseason games in the NHL. In those games for Florida and Vancouver, he tallied 10 goals and 18 assists for 28 points.
Experience like that is valuable in the playoffs and Jovanovski encourages some of the younger players to stick to what they know.
“I think whatever you’ve done up to now, don’t change it now,” Jovanovski said. “Whatever you’re eating, or doing, or preparing; just prepare the same way.”
He says he also encourages the younger players to channel their energy and intensity in a good way.
“As a group, we’re excited and we’ll have that energy,” Jovanovski said. “I think you have to channel it in the right direction and not be too over-excited and get out-positioned. Little things like that, I think you’ve got to channel them in the right direction, stick to the gameplan and just up the intensity.”
Yandle says he appreciates what his alternate captain brings to the team and will definitely heed his advice.
“The thing about Jovo is that he’s a professional,” Yandle said. “He brings that attitude everyday, every game. Since Day One of training camp he’s that guy, he’s a very intense guy. He’s a guy that I look up to and try to emulate in that aspect.”