Throughout the entire 2016-17 season, Florida Panthers rookie defenseman Mike Matheson will be answering all of your questions about life on and off the ice in his monthly mailbag for FloridaPanthers.com.
Have a question you want answered? Tweet them using #MathesonsMailbag!
@AndrewLevine5: How are you mentally and physically holding up through the first half of your rookie season?
I'm feeling pretty good. I think that last year kind of helped a lot in adjusting to playing so many more games. I'd definitely say that it's much more of a grind, especially this year with the condensed schedule. We're playing pretty much every second night. So, yeah, it's been a bit of an adjustment. I've just been looking up to the older guys to see what I can learn from that.
@Reemer13: What's your favorite memory from the first half of the season?
I'd have to say my first goal, probably. That was definitely a pretty cool moment.
Video: FLA@TBL: Matheson nets first NHL goal for late lead
@ScarlettRaye13: Do you still keep in touch with any of the guys you played with in Portland (AHL) last season?
Well there's a couple of us up here right now. Other than that, every once in a while I'll text back and forth with other guys [in the AHL] to see how they're doing and where they're at, regardless of whichever team that they're playing for this year. I know [Rob Schremp] has been overseas this year, so I've been talking to him every once in a while, which has been really nice. Schremp is someone that I really like to stay in touch with. We got along really well, so we just check up and see how we're doing every once in a while.
@StefaniJanvier: Who is the toughest forward you've played against in the NHL?
It's tough. I mean there are so many good players.
That being said, I'd have to say Sidney Crosby - 100 percent. Connor MacDavid, though, is also so fast. He comes at you with so much speed. The same goes for Crosby. Those guys can do everything so quickly and at such a high-end speed, and then also adjust their speed down to zero in a second to create that space for themselves. I'd have to say those two are the toughest.
I know that both Crosby and McDavid are really good at kind of swinging low into their own zone on neutral-zone regroups and then picking up a bunch of speed and kind of getting lost in the transition. While you're kind of dealing with their stretch guys, they're suddenly coming at you full speed and catch you flatfooted. It's important to be aware of them and kind of find that speed before it's too late.
@Adribrad913: Who are your favorite guys to play with?
It's tough to single out any one person in particular. Even when I said that Mark Pysyk was my favorite D-partner in one of my previous mailbags was pushing it. I've been playing a bit with Aaron Ekblad lately and I love playing with him. I've also played with Jason Demers a bunch and I love playing with him and learned a lot from him. I find it hard to focus on one person in particular, so I'll just say that I've learned a lot from them all.
I learned from Rob Schremp in Portland last year to take one thing from every guy that you play with. It doesn't matter if a guy like Ekblad is younger than me, he's a really good hockey player and there are things that he does that are world class. I try to learn as much as I can from him and everyone else on the team.
@Willipr527: What was your favorite part of the Dads' Trip?
I don't know if there was one moment in particular. It was just so cool to have my dad on my trip. My parents are always asking what I'm up to, what I'm doing, what it's like. My dad grew up dreaming of being an NHL hockey player, so to be able to show him everything firsthand was pretty special. The coaching staff allowed them to be a part of the whole weekend. They were in on the meetings, they were a part of the video sessions and they watched us get ready for the games. They were right there with us the whole time. There was no part where they were pushed off to the side. It was so cool to give him that opportunity to be with me and to see what I go through every single day. He had a grin on his face the whole time.
Video: Day in the Life: Michael Matheson
@BradleyFrancis_: What's it like dating NWHL All-Star Emily Pfalzer?
She puts me to shame.
It's great. We just have so much in common and get along so well. Obviously I love being in the NHL and absolutely love every single day coming to the rink and being able to do this, but there are some lows. It's the same thing for her, whether she's playing for the national team or playing in the NWHL. There are tough games where you're coming out of those games kind of beating yourself up, but then you have that person to go and talk to that was probably feeling that exact same way a few nights ago. Being able to offer that to somebody else and then get it back two nights later really puts things in perspective.
Now that she's an all-star, I've got some catching up to do.
Thanks for your questions and keep them coming!