We knew it was going to be a tough road trip.
It was kind of a bummer of a game in New York City, but we bounced back with a pair of huge road wins against Boston and Tampa Bay. It was definitely a big relief to get two points from each of those teams. They are playoff-caliber teams and two of the top teams in the Eastern Conference.
With only a few games left in the regular season, I think we’ve really just got to continue working hard. We can’t afford take our foot off the pedal in the rest of these games. We really need to gain some momentum and build our confidence heading into the postseason. We aren’t a team that wants to just slip into the playoffs; we want to head into them with a full head of steam.
There are a lot of guys in this locker room that have played on teams similar to the ones that we’re going to have to play down the home stretch -- out of the playoffs, trying new guys, giving young guys chances. You can’t let up on those teams, though. When you’re playing a game against a team full of guys fighting for jobs and fighting for spots, it can actually end up being as competitive as a playoff game.
It doesn’t matter who you’re playing in this league, you’re going to get everyone’s best game every night. You can’t go into any game being too confident. You’ve got to treat every game similar and make sure that you’re playing your style of game and not worrying about who’s on the other side of the ice. If we focus on the way we’ve been playing, things should go well.
As far as clinching a playoff spot, it’s one of those things where you don’t want look too far into the future. We’ve really emphasized – and I think the older guys and coaching staff deserve a lot of credit for this – taking it night by night because we know that anything can happen. We’re not in the playoffs yet, and that’s the way we’re looking at it. We have to treat every game like we’re battling for a spot, which we are. It’s more fun when you’re treating it like that, too. Look at the Washington Capitals, they’ve been clinched for a while but they’re still going strong.
Honestly, I don’t think guys are too worried about what’s going to happen beyond these next few games. We’re just worried about what’s going to happen in the here and now.
An Easter at Home
I didn’t get an Easter basket this year.
I had talked to Al Montoya on the plane ride home about maybe doing something festive for his kids. I wanted to get an Easter Bunny outfit from Party City and stop by his house, but he didn’t take me up on the offer. It’s probably for the best, though. I remember being scared of the Easter Bunny when I was younger, so it probably would have been more like torture for them. Monty’s got some young ones, so there’s a good chance they might have felt the same way I did when I was their age.
In the end, I didn’t end up doing anything too crazy. I had some brunch with my girlfriend Jackie at home and then we took the paddleboards out for a bit. It was actually pretty nice to have a relaxing day after a long road trip.
There’s a new addition to our house – Milo.
He’s a seven-month-old Shih Tzu Mauxie that we recently adopted. I don’t believe that he’s seven months, though. He acts like he’s at least 10 and is so mellow, which I’m totally fine with. We’d been looking at getting a dog for a while and then this one came along and we couldn’t pass up on the opportunity. The best part is that he’s such a calm dog. He actually wants to nap more often than I do, which is saying a lot. Overall, the whole experience has been really fun. I’ve never had my own dog and it’s definitely a different feeling when it’s yours.
I used to babysit Quinton Howden’s dog when I was out with my injury earlier this season. His dog was about as good as they get, so I finally pulled the trigger and got one of my own.
We’re spending a lot of time potty training him right now. He’s started to get it a little bit, but we’ve had a few accidents. My girlfriend is definitely more of the disciplinarian when it comes to training him. I’ll admit that I’m not the best when it comes to being firm with him. He’s just a little guy, after all.
How I Kill Time on Flights
I like all the guys on the team, but we have our set spots on the plane. I sit next to Monty and we usually watch some movies to kill time. When it comes to picking what movies to watch, it usually comes down to whoever is more prepared. There are times when he forgets to download one or we both end up downloading one on the same day. A lot of the time, we just bum around the plane asking for other guy’s laptops so we can watch their movies.
The most recent movie we watched was “The Big Short.” It was a good flick, but made me a little paranoid. I lived through that whole financial crisis, but I was in middle school so I didn’t really know what was going on and how many people were affected by it. It was definitely an eye-opener and we actually had to pause it a few times so that Monty could break it down for me if I didn’t get what was going on.
Thanks to Monty, I completely understand everything now. It’s really nice to have an older guy sitting next to me on flights that understands finance a little more than myself.
The One Thing I Can’t Travel Without
I think my laptop is probably the one thing I can’t live without. I just started watching “The Office” a little while ago and I’m already on the fourth season. I usually watch a few episodes before bed. It helps me go to sleep.
I guess my best fishing story down here was catching my first sailfish with Willie Mitchell. I thought I was going to have a panic attack when that thing hit my line. The funny thing was that Willie was just as excited as me because he’d never landed a sailfish by himself. He was the captain of the boat on this trip, so it was his first time landing a big 90-pound sailfish. It was a 30-minute fight and an adrenaline rush, that’s for sure.
As far as my best fishing story anywhere, I’d have to say that took place in Minnesota, when my buddy Gavin and I went canoe fishing. I had got my line caught on a lily pad and I was trying to yank it out. He was sitting behind me in the canoe saying, “Nick, you better not. You better stop. That thing is going to come right at me.” And, sure enough, I pulled as hard as I could and it flung at him, smoking him right in the eye. He had a red eye for about a week after that. He did get some revenge, though. After getting smoked in in the eye, he got up and tackled me off the boat into the water – my cellphone and clothes both got drenched. He’s about the calmest buddy of mine, so he must have been pretty mad to do that. I tell that story all the time.Jameson Olive contributed to this article