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Central Division's All-Stars assess their seasons

by Dan Rosen / NHL.com
MONTREAL -- With the hockey world congregating here in Montreal for the NHL's mid-winter classic, it presented us a great opportunity to interview many of the Central Division's stars.

There are 11 here this weekend, including six All-Stars and five YoungStars. So, we decided to ask them all if they would dissect and examine their own first-half performances.

Here is what they had to say:

Nashville defenseman Shea Weber -- "Obviously being able to stay healthy this year, knock on wood, has helped my confidence and that has helped my game. My teammates make it easy and make everything worthwhile. Our team is in an inconsistent state right now, but we'll be fine. The Western Conference is so tight right now and if you go on a little roll within two weeks you can be back in the playoffs."

Chicago forward Kris Versteeg -- "When you get such a good chance given to you by your coach all you can do is take the opportunity and run with it. (Joel Quenneville) has put me in situations where I haven't really played before and that's a lot the PK, but he has trusted me so I try to go out there and do things every night to help the team. If that comes with individual success it's only better."

Columbus forward and captain Rick Nash -- "I think we could have been a bit more consistent team-wise. We got off to an average start and now we have found our game. If we could have found it earlier we'd be in better shape. I'm happy with my game. I think it's going well. I'm playing with very good players and that helps. I have played a lot with (Kristian) Huselius and that's where the chemistry has come from. It took it's time to get chemistry with him because it's tough to find where people play and where they go on the ice."

Chicago forward Dave Bolland -- "I am known as a checking-role guy on the third line and I have been playing with Martin Havlat and Andrew Ladd. We have been doing a great job. Hopefully we can keep it going into the second half. I think I'm more of a defensive guy and I just want to help a little in the offensive zone, but as long as I get that puck and give it to Martin Havlat he can do some wonders with it. It's fun playing with him and it brings out my offensive skills as well."

Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne -- "I've been a little bit like the team, up and down. Personally, I had a slow start but then things started going well for me and things got a little easier as I got more comfortable and more confident. There are always things you can do better and my goal is to get as many games as I can and that means I need to play well."

St. Louis forward Keith Tkachuk -- "We'd like to have more points but we put ourselves back in a bit of a race right now winning four out of the last five games. Obviously we've had a lot of injuries and not just injuries, but injuries to our key guys. Others have been given an opportunity to get their feet wet and be put into good situations and have produced, so I think we're in good shape entering the second half."

Chicago defenseman Brian Campbell -- "It takes some time to go to a new team and learn the guys. And, we had a coaching change so that was a little challenging for all of us, but I have been happy. Everything has been good. We had a pretty good first half so far and we have a lot of work ahead of us, but we're learning as we go along. I'm just trying to get as comfortable as I can be and that process will continue throughout the year. You have to be mentally strong and I continue to work on that everyday."

St. Louis forward Patrik Berglund -- "In the beginning I was kind of shy and I didn't really want the puck in every situation. Right now I feel a lot more comfortable and when you have confidence you play a lot better. Coach Murray has been giving me a lot of ice time lately and I've been getting used to it. As a team, right now we're on a good streak. We won two very important away games. I think everybody is getting used to each other and finding each other on the ice. I think right now we're going to have a really good streak and get more confidence."

 
Chicago forward and captain Jonathan Toews -- "You always want to produce more and score more goals. That's obviously something on my mind, especially since we had a rough couple of games last week. I think this break is going to help us get over that, but we lost 2-0 to St. Louis and I look at myself and wish I could have contributed a little more in that regard. In talking to the coaches and linemates, I think my defensive game is getting better and as long as I am checking well and playing smart on the defensive side those offensive chances are going to come. I just have to stick with it."

St. Louis forward David Perron -- "If you look at the games we have played lately we have been fortunate. We came out with three wins and one OT loss. For myself, I would like to score more goals. I have hit a lot of posts and gotten some unlucky bounces. I have five goals and 25 assists and obviously I would like to have more goals. I have been working hard in practice to fix that and hopefully it will pay off."

Chicago forward Patrick Kane -- "I started off real well and I thought I was playing great up until I got that ankle injury. After that I've gone into a slump. That's the biggest thing for the second half. Start it off real good and keep it going, don't go into the slump. I'm looking forward to playing again and getting back to playing hockey the way I was before."

Contact Dan Rosen at drosen@nhl.com






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