|Doug and Kristin Janik during their honeymoon to the Grand Cayman Islands. The couple is expecting their first child later this month.
– While Doug Janik looks to keep things simple tonight on the ice at Staples Center, he hopes everything remains relatively uneventful back home in Grand Rapids, too.
Life on the road this week for the 31-year-old defenseman is rough with his mind often in two different places, with the Red Wings embroiled in a playoff race and his pregnant wife who can go into labor any day now.
Rookie defenseman Brendan Smith
has seen both sides of Janik’s latest obsessions and empathizes with his defensive partner – down in Grand Rapids and up here with the Wings – and roommate on the road.
“It’s definitely tough on him. He wants to be there and obviously anybody would want to be with their wife at this time,” Smith said. “But he’s such a nice guy that he’s asked me, ‘Do you mind if I keep my phone on in case my wife calls?’ He’s a great guy and very genuine and considerate, so that’s great for me.”
While Janik is excited to be a part of the Wings’ roster as they battle through a bevy of recent injuries, he hopes that he can be home when his wife, Kristin, delivers the couple’s first baby. The couple has a due-date of March 26.
“It’s always fun to be in the NHL and it’s nice when you get to leave Detroit in the middle of March and come to California,” Janik said. “But you’re always nervous when you’re that far away from home. I’m always checking the phone to make sure she hasn’t gone into labor or anything like that.”
The couple does know the sex of the child, though Doug is certain that they are having a girl.
“I wanted to know, but she didn’t want to know,” he said. “I feel like it’s going to be a girl, but she thinks it’s a boy, so one of us is right.”
Tuesday’s game against the Kings will be Janik’s fifth this season with the Wings. He’s eating up valuable minutes while providing plenty of energy on the defensive end, while being a calming influence for Smith.
“He’s probably been the most influential player because I’ve been with him through Grand Rapids and here,” Smith said. “Just everything that he’s given me as tips, as a young guy I can find myself getting a little bit frustrated with some of the ways that I play. I mean, hockey is a game of mistakes and everybody makes them, but as a young guy you get frustrated with yourself, but he’s been there to calm me down and make me laugh. I credit a lot to him because he’s always been there for me.”
A former second-round pick of the Buffalo Sabres in 1999, the Wings are Janik’s fifth NHL organization in eight seasons. And while he’s played in nearly three-times more games in the American Hockey League than in the NHL, Janik doesn’t take his time on the Wings’ roster for granted.
“Anytime you get called up you want to put your best foot forward, but right now with so many of us called up and in such a tight race in the Western Conference it’s obviously a lot of pressure,” he said. “You can look around to the guys who have been around here awhile and playing and dealing with it and how calm and composed they are and that only helps us. So all we have to do is get in there and try to do what we can to help win.”
But the preparation is definitely different, even for an eight-year pro, when he’s call-up.
“There’s a lot more detail between the meetings, the videos, the structure, everything is more disciplined. It’s nice to come into that, but it sounds simple, but it comes down to playing simple and not chance too much and do what you’re best at.
“This is where you want to play, so guys put a lot of pressure on themselves to be the best that they can. It all depends on your game, so a guy like myself is going to try to be more simple, move pucks out and be good in my own end, as opposed to a guy like Gustav Nyquist
who can make plays and he’ll create a little offense for himself and he has. You really can’t change your role, we just have to do what we’re best at.”
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