Your goal totals are higher. Are you doing anything differently with shooting the puck?
I’m definitely trying to shoot the puck more. Not carelessly but trying to create something off of that. In the past I probably looked to pass a little bit more, put at the goalie’s pads or throw it to an area. It doesn’t always result in goals. Hopefully you can keep guys honest and maybe I can get opportunities to pass it more down the road.
Has Dan Bylsma’s system forced you to shoot more?
You tend to shoot more when you know you have guys going to the net and things like that. That’s basically something with regard to our team that we try to work on. As an offensive player when you know you’ve got guys going to the net and driving hard, you’re going to shoot more because you know that you’ll get opportunities there.
Is there a new confidence in your shot?
I think so. I feel like I can score outside a little more than in the past. That comes with seeing good results. Anyone who scores or any offensive player will tell you that you build confidence the more you see the puck go in, and from different areas as well. You need to have a sense of confidence if you want to score consistently.
How frustrating is the power play right now with it struggling?
It’s definitely frustrating. There are times where that’s the difference between winning and losing. I really don’t think it’s a lack of effort. I think everybody wants to do well. It’s just been a matter of not executing well. There are things that happen at different times, whether it’s your entries or getting the puck in the zone, I think the last 10 games or so our power play has done a good job of getting quality zone time. We just have to put the puck in the net. That hurts us. Before that we were struggling to execute but lately I think our zone time and execution have been a lot better. It’s just a matter of putting it in.
Does it excite you to get all this attention while visiting Western Canada?
I look forward to playing in great hockey atmospheres. As a hockey player you look forward to those games. It’s exciting for that reason. Not any other reason. With the Olympics it’s probably a little more than usual. That’s to be expected. It’s something I look forward to because of the great hockey cities we got to here.
How do you spend your free time here?
Yeah, I pretty much stay in my room. No shopping or anything like that. I stay in the cave and hang out there.Can you adjust your game to what the team needs? Is your goal scoring an effort to help an area of team need?
I don’t think consciously I’ve tried to change a whole lot. If anything I try to shoot more, like I said. I don’t want anything taken away from other parts of my game either. I think I’m always trying to improve everything. Fortunately the puck has gone in. Sometimes you get those bounces, off a skate or a deflection that goes your way. It doesn’t mean that one season is better than any other. It just means you get a few breaks here and there. You try to ride that as long as you can. I haven’t really told myself I need to score more. I’ve tried to and I’ve tried to pass just as much and work on everything else that I need to work on. The goals have come a little more.
Do you want more assists too?
I think I always want more. I want more goals. I want more assists. That’s the way you have to think. You have to want to improve. You have to want more. That’s something I’m always trying to do.
Were you trying to improve your faceoffs coming into training camp?
That’s over the last few years that I’ve tried to work on. Our group of centers have really committed to that. I think we all try to work on it at practice. I think we all understand that there is a lot that can be told for having good centermen. Our game is a puck possession game. The more faceoffs we can win, especially with the power plays, the faceoff circle starting in the offensive zone, that’s big. We try to work on that as a group. I think we’ve all improved because of it.
Your shootouts are better too. Is that another area you’ve tried to improve on?
Sometimes it goes in. I had two this year, one of fanned on pretty good and the other one (goaltender Steve) Mason put it in himself. He stopped it and then it kind of trickled in. That’s a little luck there. Like I said, sometimes it goes in, sometimes it doesn’t. It’s much nicer when you get those breaks. Have you looked forward to the Olympics at all?
I’m just trying to worry about things (in Pittsburgh). When it’s time, it’s time. Mentally I’ll be ready to make that transition and focus on the Olympics. But it’s been pretty good and easy to focus on things in Pittsburgh. If anything, you remind yourself that you want your game to be at its best too when that time comes. You worry about doing things right in Pittsburgh and playing the right way. Hopefully that will carry over when the time comes.
Will you talk to Jerome Iginla since you’re both alternate captains for Team Canada?
I don’t know if we’ll talk about that a whole lot to be honest. When you see guys it’s nice to catch up. Him being (in Calgary), he’s probably talked a lot about it. He probably doesn’t need me talking to him about it too. Like everyone, we’re all looking forward to it but we all realize it’s a matter of taking care of things right now and when the times comes we’ll get ready for it.
Is the role of an alternate captain different on a team like Team Canada?
I think it becomes much easier when you’re dealing with players that have led their teams. There will be no lack of leadership at all. There isn’t much that needs to be said. All of the guys will lead by example with their play. I don’t think you need to do a whole lot with a group like that.
Why do you think you and Jerome will be good linemates at the Olympics?
His shot, he’s a guy who gets into scoring areas and doesn’t miss too many times from those areas. He’s a complete player too. He’s a guy that goes into corners, goes into traffic, he plays a hard game. Whatever type of game it is, he can play it. When you talk about the Olympics you are playing different teams. Teams that like to play more physical, teams that slow things down more. Whatever the case is, he’s shown that he can play in any situation. He brings a lot.
What do you think about the Flames’ defensive unit?
They’re really strong back there. Everyone realizes that. It’s a great challenge when you talk about playing defensemen of that caliber. It doesn’t mean it’s going to be an easy night. It’s going to be a challenge and that’s what we look forward to. We’re going to have to make them turn and play in (their zone) as much as can. They have guys who aren’t just good defensively but also jump into the rush. (Dion) Phaneuf and (Jay) Bouwmeester, these guys can get up there and make you pay too offensively. We have to make sure we keep the puck in their end as long as we can.
How do you stay fresh physically and mentally having no summer, playing a compressed schedule and doing these media availabilities?
I think I’m getting better at it. I try to remind myself to take days off once in a while. There are times where you have to know yourself and whether or not you can get through that three or four day span and maybe not take a day off. Sometimes you have to tell yourself to get away for a day. It’s better off that way. That’s really the key. It’s up to the coaching staff as well. We’re all in that situation. We have two pretty longs seasons previously. I think the coaches are aware of that they’ve been doing a pretty good job of making sure we stay fresh. But this time of year is when you have to be smart and as a team, playing well, because everyone needs to help each other through this point in the season.
Did changing your stick have an effect on your goal scoring?
I used a wood blade for a long time. They don’t make it anymore so I switched to a on-piece. It definitely helps with the shot. It’s still something I’m getting used to with the feel. When you use wood for that long, it’s a little bit of a change. It’s definitely helped with my shot. I’m much more confident with it. There is a little bit more of a curve, still not much of one. That goes back to a confidence thing. When they’re going in for you, you tend to shoot more. When you’re lacking confidence you won’t shoot the puck as much. It’s all tied in.
Can you relate to Evgeni Malkin’s struggles right now?
Practice is all you can do. It’s again, when you talk about confidence, not scoring in games makes it tough to build that confidence and get on that roll or get that momentum. I think the next best thing is to get it through practice. The more you can bear down in practice, hopefully with time you’ll come back and it carries over to games. He practices hare and he always has. He’s going to find a way to score. It’s just a matter of time. There are always tough times like this that everybody goes through. When you’re losing it’s talked about a little bit more but the best cure for that is everyone being better and winning. With that individually, everyone has more success too.
Did you see the Alexander Burrows incident? Do you think referees discriminate against players?
Not really. You probably sometimes feel like that but when you watch the game, watch the highlights, it’s pretty obvious at times. You get caught up in things. It’s an emotional game. Sometimes you feel like you can’t draw a call and then you look back and it really wasn’t a penalty. I think a lot of the referees have been doing this a long time and they’re able to separate that. Maybe that’s the way he felt. I didn’t see the play. I just woke up a half hour ago. I really don’t know. I haven’t really seen that.
How do you deal with today’s modern media and public scrutiny?
You just try to learn. You learn as you go. I try to learn from other people. Today with everything the way it is with camera phones and the internet there is not as much privacy as there used to be. That’s the way it is. To be honest that’s I really know. That’s what I’ve grown up around. I don’t know any different than that. You try to learn as you go. I’m a pretty private person anyway so I try to keep it that way.
How do you deal with the scrutiny and attention of playing for Canada in Canada?
I think it’s really exciting. It’s a little bit different being in Athlete’s Village. You’re in a short-term event. You have to spend as much time with the team as you can. I spent enough time with (the Penguins) so I can spend a day in my room. When you’re talking about the Olympics, you have to be together as much as you can. You’re constantly in meetings and you have to improve each day. I think there is a focus when you’re talking about that. You don’t want anything outside of that effect you. You try to enjoy that as much as you can. That’s a once in a lifetime opportunity with it being in Canada. I think everyone is going to try to soak it up as much as they can but also be excited and hopefully do a good job.