With more and more bodies returning to the lineup, speculation is that Matt Pelech won't be cracking the lineup during the opening series but the rookie defenseman has been giving 100 per cent every practice.
“You’ve got to prepare to play you know?” he said. “Whether I’m in the lineup or not, it’s not my decision. Every decision they make is going to be in the best interest of the team.”
Even if he doesn’t see any ice time, the Toronto native is just pleased to be with the team during the year’s second season.
“Whatever happens, happens. Right now I’m preparing to play. If I do, I do. If I don’t, I don’t,” he smiled.
“This is my first pro playoffs. We didn’t make the playoffs unfortunately last year in Quad City or this year. I’ve been through it in junior and I’ve been on some winning teams with some good playoff runs and it’s always the most fun time of the year so that’s what I’m looking forward to.”
The 21-year-old has played a very solid game since being recalled from Quad City on Apr. 3. In the last four contests of the regular season, the defenseman has picked up three helpers – not too shabby for a guy known for his stay-at-home defensive skills.
“I’m not a point guy and my assists have just been simple break-out passes,” Pelech told CalgaryFlames.com. “It’s not like I’m doing anything crazy offensively. I’m just trying to get the puck up to the forwards and I’ve been fortunate enough that when they get the puck, they’re putting it in the net.”
After stints in the juniors with Sarnia, London and Belleville, Pelech graduated to the Quad City Flames where he’s been refining his skills for a couple of years. While he’s had two impressive seasons with the Baby Flames, he still sees his game as a work in progress.
“I’d much rather contribute better defensively. I’ve felt that I’ve been okay defensively but I could be a lot better so that’s really what I’ve got to focus on.”
Pelech heaped praise on his linemate from the regular season, Jim Vandermeer, for his help.
“He’s been awesome. It's tough fighting through the nerves and just playing against the players with the caliber I've played against so the fact he's always there talking to me, helping me through every shift, every play on the bench.”
As the Flames head into Game 3, Pelech was only sure of one thing: the feeling of heading into his first professional playoff experience.
“It’s amazing. You can’t beat this.”