DAYS 11-13: Apr. 20-23
Last night for me was just surreal. The idea of eliminating the Pittsburgh Penguins and advancing to the second round of the playoffs made me realize that it's just one step closer to a dream come true of winning the Stanley Cup.
Being on the ice at the end of the game when Brayden Schenn scored that empty-netter, it was just like a huge weight went off your shoulders. The excitement and electricity of the arena was breathtaking.
One of the coolest things was being in my first NHL handshake line. It felt so great. You have a sense of pride that your team just beat their team, but the other thing that went through my mind was a little bit of remorse that you just ended their season because imagine yourself on the other side of that.
It really makes you think of how bad you want to keep playing hockey, how important winning is and how bad you want to keep pushing and playing well in the playoffs.
The excitement in the locker room and hearing Knock, Knock was just awesome. Everyone had smiles on their faces, everyone was happy and its great to just enjoy that moment.
Today was an off-day, but I didn't stay at home all day. I went to the rink to reply to some fan-mail, sit the hot tub and steam room for a little bit to relax as much as I can because tomorrow I'm sure it'll be back to business. We'll probably have a pretty intense practice.
Tonight, however I'm having some guys over for dinner. Welly [Eric Wellwood] and Gus [Erik Gustafsson are coming over. I'm cooking a pork tenderloin that's marinated in a maple brown sugar sauce, with potatoes, corn-on-the-cob and salad. I can't wait to eat…
DAYS 9-10: Apr. 18-19
Coming off of that Game Four loss… For myself the feeling is that we just have to get over it. It's just a loss and we're still up 3-1 in the series, and you have to have a positive outlook on it. So on the very next day we're looking ahead to Game 5.
Practice wasn't all that different. We wanted to get back to working on those little habits that we need to be better on.
We flew to Pittsburgh and it's good to be back out on the road with the guys. We had another team dinner and those are really great. We have a fun time, get away from the rink but we're still all together cracking jokes and sharing laughs.
After dinner we had a FIFA Soccer tournament in our room. Rinaldo brought his Playstation 3 again and I dominated. I was 2-0 overall on the night. I beat Rinaldo, 3-0 and Simmonds, 2-1. Wellwood is still the champion though, so my next challenge will be him and that'll decide who the ultimate champion is...
With the playoffs over a week old now I've noticed a big difference between life in the regular season and life in the playoffs. It's two completely different animals.
In the playoffs you can't have one night off. It's go-go-go and 100 percent of your focus is on hockey. For myself I find that it's a much more fun atmosphere to play in and more fun to be around the rink everyday. You really realize how important everything is and it's a great experience to go through.
I haven't really paid too much attention on other series though. I know what each series record is and I'll watch some of it on TV when it's not a game night, but I'm not following it too closely.
DAY 8: Apr. 17
On yesterday's off-day, all we had was a couple team meetings, then I went up for a bike workout afterwards just to get the blood flowing and my daily exercise in.
It was good to not have a complete off day just to keep with routine. After that, it was a beautiful day and I went and sat outside for a little bit.
Then I went inside to play some XBox with my little brother. It was great to just spend some time with him and talk about things other than hockey, his life and everything that's going on with him right now.
We're about a week into the playoffs now and the one thing that I've noticed is this beard I'm growing for the playoff Beard-A-Thon. It… well my beard looks like a 17-year-old growing a beard in a 25-year-old body! It's pretty patchy and so far not a lot of hair, but I've got a pretty good mustache going now. Hopefully in time it gets thicker and better, but right now it's not very good and I'm almost embarrassed to go out in public, haha.
It's great to be home for a good stretch of time as well. On the road is great too, but when you're at home you can use your car to go places or hang out with friends or family and really just sleep in your own bed.
DAY 7: Apr. 16
Sunday's game was one of those games that you watch on TV growing up and it looks so fun to play in. To actually be out on the ice and to see all the fights, a high-scoring game and all the physicality that goes with it, it's a really different atmosphere.
Those games are what makes a man. If you don't know how to prepare for one of those games and show up you might be in the wrong sport. By far, those games are the most fun to play in.
What I wasn't prepared for at all was coming out on the ice and seeing everyone in orange and just how loud it was in that arena. I was talking to a couple friends that watched the game and they were joking that their TV was shaking because of how loud it was. I told them that was the best arena I've ever played in in my entire life.
The feeling of getting my first playoff goal and hearing the roar of the crowd and the horn was obviously pretty special and scoring two goals was something that I never even dreamed of doing.
I had family at the game as well. My brother and his wife were at the game and his wife told me after the second goal was scored she looked over at my brother Mark and he had tears in his eyes. It was a great moment for them too.
Afterwards the locker room atmosphere was great. I hadn't really been one of the featured players talking to the media so far in the series and that was just a pretty neat situation. There's about 25-30 people with TV cameras standing all around you and they just start yelling questions. It was a little nerve-wracking being up there and I guess you could call it public speaking.
DAYS 5-6: Apr. 14-15
Just prior to Game 3, Matt Read does a video blog on returning back home to Philadelphia and expectations for the upcoming games at the Wells Fargo Center. WATCH HERE >>
DAY 4: Apr. 13
Well last I left everyone it was right after Game One. I talked to my parents and my little brother Mitchell. My dad always watches my games and talks to me about it. I like to hear what he has to say. He's always helped me out in my game throughout my career.
I didn't really fall asleep until around 3 a.m. though. I just kind of sat there and watched TV. The game was so intense and I think my adrenaline was still kicking.
We didn't have practice until 1 p.m. yesterday, so I slept in quite a bit, actually more than I'm used to. I had a good breakfast, took my time and came to practice. It was an optional skate, but I always go out to skate.
Overall it was a just a really relaxing day.
I tried to take a little nap after the practice but it didn't work, so a bunch of guys came to our room and we just played FIFA Soccer on Playstation 3.
Zac Rinaldo brought it with him on the trip and a bunch of us have been playing it when we have down time… It's Zac's game and he's not really good at it. Brayden Schenn is the worst at it though. It was really fun to have the afternoon off and just hang out with the guys and all go to dinner again.
Today's really just another normal game-day for me. I had a good skate this morning and I'm not really changing anything up.
I noticed the playoffs are getting a little bit different though. Everyone's a little more focused than usual. There's also a lot more media around than a regular season game, it kind of reminds me of the Winter Classic where there was a lot of that.
DAYS 2-3: Apr. 11-12
Well going through my first game-day for the playoffs - it was pretty exciting. Coming out before the game and having the crowd go wild kind of got my blood flowing making it even more exciting.
Even though I felt like time was going slow and I had a lot more time than usual before the game I didn't change anything from my routine. It was pretty much the same as any game throughout the year.
I have a coffee and a granola bar before the game to kind of relax before we have meetings at the rink. Then I play soccer with the guys to get warmed-up and do some stretches on my own. After that I sit in my stall for about five minutes just to get focused before getting dressed for warm-ups.
What a first game it was too… The game-winner from Jake was incredible. Any overtime victory is morally a great victory, coming back from that deficit makes it more meaningful.
Being on the ice for the game-winner I just remember it was a hard-fought shift in their zone. I was in front of the net when I saw Matty C shoot it. I got hit but turned around and I had a feeling that someone was backdoor looking for a rebound. I saw Jake put it in the net. Everything from there just kind of stopped for me. It was such an exciting moment and I just really tried to enjoy it as much as I could.
I'm headed back to the hotel now, but I'm going to call my parents first. I call them after every game I play. After that I'll probably catch the end of the Western Conference game and get to bed. Now we really have to move forward and get focused for Game Two.
DAY 1: Apr. 10
Well its the day before we get going here for the playoffs, and I have to say the feeling for me and entering my first Stanley Cup Playoff game is a lot of nerves.
It’s almost like your first NHL game all over again and thinking about all the little things like… what you can do to be the best player that you can be, just show up for every shift and do everything right to make the team better, so admittedly - the nerves are going through me right now because of all the excitement of being in my first playoff series and the chance to win the Stanley Cup. It’s obviously a dream come true and finally it’s all coming together. I'm really just looking forward to Game One.
These past few days have been really good for me. After ending the season where we really didn't have two or three days off between games, we had a break starting with the team gathering at XFinity Live.
I even had to give a little speech before we showed a video for the crowd there.
I didn't even know I was going to talk, but as far as I know Lavi asked Claude Giroux who was the best speaker, and I guess he said me for some reason - I took public speaking in college and didn’t do very well. I was pretty nervous but I think the mic was too loud so I got away with it not being too bad!
These past couple days though I’ve been resting as much as I can. I went for a couple walks in downtown Philly where I went shopping and out to eat. It's been great weather and I tried to enjoy it as much as I can. It got my mind off of hockey too, just because when it comes to hockey, a lot of thought goes towards it, and you just want to give your mind a little break once and a while.
After a couple good, hard practices, we're off to Pittsburgh. I usually get to bed early and keep hockey on the back of my mind. I don’t want to be thinking about it too much, getting too excited or getting too amped up before bed.
Gameday tomorrow is really when I get into game-mode - I do a lot of preparation for the upcoming game at the morning skate which are just little things that you know can help you succeed on the ice. On games days when you wake up in the morning, to showering and brushing your teeth, hockey is on your mind and those little things pay off during the day.