The old sports adage is that injuries give others opportunities, and Brady Skjei is embracing the one given to him in the wake of Ryan McDonagh missing at least the final three games of the regular season with an upper-body injury.
"I'm taking it one game at a time for sure," Skjei told BlueshirtsUnited.com after the team's 3-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning Tuesday night at The Garden. "Try to get better and better every game. I'll do whatever I can to make the team successful. Whatever they need me to do, I'll try and do. Obviously it's a good opportunity for me and we'll see what happens."
This is the third call up for Skjei, the team's 2012 first-round pick. The 22-year-old said with each recall, he's feeling more comfortable both on and off the ice.
"Definitely familiarity now," Skjei said. "I'm more comfortable in the room and on the ice, too. It's a little different down in Hartford. Trying to feel the game up here and try and contribute however you can. I'm getting more comfortable and things are slowing down out there, which is nice."
Skjei finished last night's game with 16:22 of ice time, including 5:16 on the penalty kill. Alain Vigneault alluded to McDonagh's injury being a chance for Skjei and other young players to seize a chance, and that he expects Skjei to improve as he comes along.
"Brady tonight was jumping up in the play," Vigneault said. "You've got to pick your spots and I think the more he plays the more he's going to understand when it's time to go in."
The playoff intensity is nothing new for Skjei, as the Wolf Pack have been pushing for a postseason spot for the last several weeks. It's something hockey players relish in, and Skjei is no different.
"It's getting more to playoff hockey," he said. "It's different, but we're getting a little taste of that in Hartford too. Everywhere the hockey is starting to ramp up a bit and I love it. Playoff hockey is awesome. I'm looking forward to the end of the year."