I think we're right in it and we know it.
It was nice to kind of take a little mental break from the game this past week, but I think everybody had their eyes on this little push we have going. Now, it's a sprint to the playoffs. These last few games are going to go by quick, so we can't give any of the games away or any of the points away. I think we're feeling pretty rejuvenated, mentally and physically, so it's definitely going to be interesting to see what we can put together here.
It's also really big to have Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov back in the lineup. I mean, everyone who's come up and battled with us, everyone who's played for the Panthers this year, knows how much those guys were missed. At the same time, the guys that filled in did a heck of a job keeping us in the hunt; they're not forgotten and we're playing for them too.
There's been a lot of people knocking us off and telling us that we're not going to make it to the playoffs. There have also been a lot of negative comments this season, but everything internally, within the organization and our locker room, has been positive. I think we're all pulling together and the ship's going the right direction now.
Honestly, I feel like you learn more in losing than winning. I know that, for me, personally you learn more when you have obstacles in your way and you've got to climb some mountains. I think we've definitely climbed a couple mountains this year. I also think that journey does bring you together as a team. In the past few months, we've all battled together, fought hard together, and been hurt together. It's something that you keep close, something that we're going to be using down the home stretch.
Video: OTT@FLA: Demers tallies long-range empty-netter
Of course, we also kept a pretty close eye on the standings over the break.
Toronto had a lot of games in hand on us, so we were watching to see what they'd do. Now that things are starting to even up a bit, we can see that we're right there in the thick of it. It's going to be a tight race. There are literally eight teams that are battling for a handful of spots. It's nothing but playoff hockey from now on and I think we're going to thrive in that atmosphere.
For my own personal spring break, I spent some time in the Dominican Republic. It wasn't anything crazy, just a couple of days in the sun and a lot of rest. I just sat on the beach with friends, mixing in some wind sprints and squats. I looked for a hockey rink but couldn't find anywhere to skate, so I just skated in the sand and pretended it was ice.
As for the Super Bowl, I'm not surprised.
I wasn't even shocked when New England was down by 25 points. I knew that Tom Brady wanted to make a dramatic comeback. They have a winning culture and are just that kind of team. It was definitely a fun time for us.
I'm proud to be a Patriots fan - not a bandwagon Pats fan, a legit Pats fan.
I started watching football when I turned 20, while I was living in Worchester, Mass., and playing for San Jose's American Hockey League affiliate. I feel like they probably have the craziest Pats fans there. Like, if you're in a bar or at a restaurant and the Pats game is on and you're not cheering for them, then you're probably going to be getting in a fight with somebody. I learned that you've got to convert quick and luckily ended up choosing the right team to follow.
I like winners and I follow winners…. the winning never gets old.
Jameson Olive contributed to this article