12.03.07, 11:33 a.m. :::: READY FOR THE WEST COAST
This will be my first trip to the west coast.
My first year, we went to Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton, but this will be my first time in LA, San Jose and Anaheim. I've never been there before so it should be neat.
It's pretty exciting to get to go someplace new and different, especially when we're getting away from the cold weather that's heading for Buffalo right now. That should be pretty nice.
But playing different teams is fun. It's always interesting for us to go out there and see what type of teams they have put together.
The game against Anaheim will be even a little more interesting because Ryan [Miller's] brother plays on that team. When there's a connection like that to one of our players, it always adds a little something extra.
But even besides the games, it's fun times getting away from everything and just having the guys be able to hang out together.
There's a cliche in sports that you go on the road to build team chemistry. I can tell you that it really does.
Team meals, guys hanging out and stuff like that, does help bring a team closer together.
We really get to hang out during the day since we usually practice in the morning. After practice, we can just go out and do whatever. Those are usually the times that we have some fun.
It definitely helps team chemistry and I think there is no bad time in a season for building that.
Our team chemistry is good right now, but it's never a bad thing to have a week like this together.
11.28.07, 11:10 a.m. :::: THE BAD STRETCH IS OVER, HOPEFULLY
I was pretty happy to get that goal. It's been a while.
Even though I wasn't scoring, I was getting opportunities. That's the tough part about it, especially when the team isn't winning. You know you could help the team if you were scoring.
It was frustrating, but I tried to keep that frustration in and now show it. Inside, I had that burn.
It's just a part of the game. Every player goes through tough stretches like that once in a while. I'm just happy I got a goal and hopefully this thing is over now.
It makes it easier to go through a drought if the team is winning. If we're winning, not scoring doesn't bother me that much. When the team's not winning, that's when you seem to get even more upset about it. You just want to help the team. I was just working hard trying to throw pucks on net. I'm just happy I finally got a bounce.
It kind of feelings like the team's luck has changed. It seems like, in the past, the bounces were just not going our way.
I've always thought you kind of make your luck and that if you go out there and work hard, eventually, you'll get a bounce. But Michael Nylander's near miss on Monday was huge for us. That would have allowed Washington to pull their goalie at the end and make a better push for the tie.
We've been working hard and we're happy to finally get a few bounces here and there. It's all about winning and the team.
But we're not going to get those bounces every night, so we've got to put a good effort out every game and give ourselves a chance to win.
11.13.07, 2:27 p.m. :::: A GOOD PERFORMANCE AT BOSTON
I thought overall the team played pretty well on Saturday night in Boston. We had tons of opportunities and that's two games in a row where we were really producing offensively.
We really had our feet moving, played well in the offensive zone and really didn't give up much defensively. Overall it was a pretty good effort, we just still ended up short.
If we come out with that effort on a nightly basis, I don't think we're going to lose many games. That's if we can find a way to score sooner rather than later.
Every guy goes through some rough patches in each season. I'm trying to look at it as, "I'm getting the opportunities and they're just not going in."
If I weren't getting them then I would probably be worried about my game. But I still think I'm doing good things out there and I'm still getting a lot of opportunities.
I'm going to work hard in practice, shoot a lot of pucks, and hopefully, find a way to score pretty soon.
You really just have to stay balanced and relaxed when chances aren't going into the net. If you hold on to your stick too tight, that's when you're going to miss even more. Obviously as the number of games goes up and you don't score, you may start thinking about it a little more. You just need to stay away from that as much as possible.
I came into Saturday night's game and actually said to myself, "I want to try to shoot as much as I could."
Every time I had an opportunity, I tried to throw it on net, and hopefully get a bounce or something. It just didn't happen.
Hopefully, I'll get that bounce soon.
10.31.07, 2:27 p.m. :::: LYDMAN NAMED CAPTAIN
We're all pretty excited about Toni [Lydman] being named captain. He's a veteran player that shows up and works hard everyday. He is one of the leaders of this team so we all have that trust in him, and hopefully, he'll be able to lead us in a good direction.
What makes Toni a good captain is that he comes to the rink and leads by example. He's a guy that the team can rely on anytime, in any circumstance. His play on the ice really dictates the way he leads.
We don't mind the rotating captaincy. It's something that I think is pretty good. It creates a lot of leaders and some different competition in the locker room. It was fun to see Jochen [Hecht}and now Toni wear the "C".
Who knows who the next player could be?
The rotation creates a good atmosphere and it's something that's fun to be part of.
We knew the month was coming to an end and we were all kind of wondering what was going to happen. We had a meeting this morning and the coaches named Toni.
We're all really happy for him. And it was a really good decision.
10.23.07, 1:30 p.m. :::: ON THE ROAD
With the road trip coming up we want to be better. I think going on the road may be a good thing. We can get back to basics and prove to ourselves again that we are a good team.
We’ve been good at times but not on a consistent basis and that’s what we want to work on. Hopefully we can get off to a good start.
It’s fun to go on the road so the guys can be together, be able to hang out a little bit or go out for dinner. But the main thing right now though is winning hockey games and that is what we are worried about.
We have always been a good road team and hopefully we can start off well and bring back those good days.
Facing Carolina is a good challenge for us. They are a team that I think has improved a lot. They are up in the standings and they are playing really well right now, with a lot of speed and a lot of skill. They have been getting good goaltending as well and their special teams are good.
It’s always tough to go to Carolina. When you look back two years ago to how close we were to beating them in the conference finals, and they ended up winning.
That is probably the toughest place to go back to maybe in the entire league.
10.10.07, 2:30 p.m. :::: DOING SOME WORK
I think our last game was a lot better than our first one against the Islanders. We made a lot of uncharacteristic mistakes in our first game, didn't play the way we wanted to and turned the puck over a lot. I think the second one was something we have to build off. It's definitely not the start we wanted but we haves four games here at home in a row and we have to make sure that we come off strong.
In the second game, we also didn't really turn the puck over as much and we played a little bit better defensively. It seemed like in our first game we all wanted to do everything on our own. It ended up costing us. Our penalty kill wasn't great and it got better in the second game.
When we play well, we have good puck control and tend to limit our opponent's special teams chances.
In practice this week, we have been working on defensive zone play a lot. That aspect of our game wasn't where we wanted to be and it cost us games. We want to be a tough team to play against in our own zone and make it hard on other teams. It is definitely something we have worked on and will continue to work on.
The season is so long that every break you can get is nice. Obviously, after losing two games in a row, it would have been nice to redeem ourselves right away and not have to wait four days.
But on the other hand, we were able to work on some things this week that we didn't like. I feel that we are ready to play now.
Atlanta is a team that has not won either. Thursday night is going to be two teams that want to get that first win. They are a team that has some guys that can put the puck in the net. An all-around good offensive team.
We just have to make sure that we play well and play our own game. I am sure that everything will come together. We just need to focus on what we've been working on.
10.1.07, 3:40 p.m. :::: REGULAR SEASON IS HERE
I’m excited for the season. I think we finished off training camp the way we wanted to. We have to build off our preseason performances.
We work so hard during the off-season to get ourselves ready that when the regular season comes, everybody is just ready to go.
As the season comes, I don't really think about personal goals or anything like that.
The main thing for me is winning. Obviously, I always want to stay healthy, but the biggest thing is to help the team win some games. For the last two years, we have been so close to our goal.
For me, the main thing is winning and seeing what the next step is about.
There are a lot of young guys that I was impressed with in training camp. [Phillippe] Gogulla, [Andrej] Sekera and [Clarke] MacArthur played well and there is definitely a lot of talent in the organization.
That is a good problem to have.
9.21.07, 11:20 a.m. :::: READY TO GO
It's tough to gauge yourself so far through camp since we've only been playing scrimmages. Going forward, I think everybody is starting to feel better and better out there. Tonight, we finally get an exhibition game (HSBC Arena, 7 p.m., Buy Tickets
) against a team that has played two preseason games already.
It should be a good test. We'll see how scrimmages are really going and see how in good a shape we are.
I think overall my [physical] testing was pretty good. I worked out hard during the summer. To be honest with you, it's something that I take a lot of pride in. Nowadays you have to get yourself prepared. If you don't, they [the coaching staff] will find out. They can tell by your testing.
I think that everybody came prepared and everybody is ready for a new season.
There's a few of the young guys who have impressed me so far though camp. The overall play of camp has been good.
I think [Andrej] Sekera is one of the guys who surprised me the most. He's been here before but to see him out there... he really keeps his composure and is really relaxed. He doesn't seem nervous at all.
He's playing tonight so it will be interesting to see what he does, even though we've seen him play before.
5.21.07, 5:12 p.m. :::: SEASON WRAP-UP
This is definitely not how I wanted to end the season. It's very disappointing, and it hurts to fall short again. We were so close two years in a row and just weren't able to pull through.
What I think hurts the most is that this group of guys probably won't be back together again. We had such a great group of guys; great chemistry, everybody was pulling in the same direction, and we just weren't able to do it.
I think that when you compare last year's playoffs to this year's, not a lot of guys had made it into the Conference Final. This season, everybody was there. It's been a learning process over the last two years for all of us. You look at Ottawa and they've had their struggles the last few years in the playoffs. They've learned from it and I'm sure we'll do the same. Hopefully, we won't have to wait as long as they did.
Looking back on the regular season, there are two games that stick out to me and will always remember above the others. We were actually talking about them a lot during our final meetings. The first game I'll remember is the Toronto comeback late in the season. It was a great game to be a part of because it was against Toronto, and just making the comeback the way we did was definitely exciting. The other one was the Ottawa brawl game. It was a fun game for the fans and as a player as well.
In the playoffs, the game that sticks out to me that I'll remember would have to be the one where Drury's goal tied it with seven seconds left in Game Five at home against the Rangers. If we don't tie that, who knows what happens after that. He came up big for us once again, and we ended up winning on the power play in overtime.
It's tough to say why we fell short, but I think that it was probably our first couple of games in the Ottawa series that ended up costing us. Who would have thought that we wouldn't have been able to get a victory at home? That's something we battled for all season, trying to get the home-ice advantage, and we fell short at home and dug ourselves into a hole which was too big to come back from. After that, we got our heads in the right place and started playing better hockey, but it was just too late.
This summer's a little different for me. I don't have to go through the contract process so it's nice. It's really exciting to know that you're going to be back. I'm definitely going to take a few weeks off. This year I was really fortunate to play in every game. There were a lot of bumps and bruises along the way so I'll rest for a bit, think about this season, and then get myself prepared for next season the best I can. Hopefully next year will be even more exciting than this year.
5.17.07, 3:39 p.m. :::: LOOKING TO GAIN MOMENTUM
It took a little while to get that first win, but we finally got it. Hopefully we can create some momentum off of it just by playing the way we have, especially in Game Four. I definitely think that we can build off the last game, and we're looking toward the challenge ahead of us.
Our special teams were good on Wednesday. Our penalty kill was great for the second game in a row and the power play finally got us on the board.
Special teams are so important at this time of the year. Our power play has struggled at times, so it was fun to get one. Hopefully, Max's goal will get us going in that department.
I thought we moved the puck a lot better on the man advantage. We want to make sure that we try to take advantage of those power play chances. If we can't score, then we hope that we can at least create momentum for the rest of our team and get them going.
We definitely got the start we wanted in Game Four, especially with getting a goal nine seconds in and then getting a couple more to take the 3-0 lead. After that it kind of quieted down their crowd a bit.
They managed to get some momentum by getting two goals near the end of the second period. That got their crowd back into it and it was really loud in the arena after that.
Even with them getting back into the game, I don't think we panicked. We stayed focused, showed poise, and ended up winning the game with a one-goal lead. Winning the close games is something that we're happy about and we know we can do.
That's crazy hearing that there were 10,000 fans at HSBC Arena cheering us on for Game Four. That's really fun to hear, because it's great to see that the city is still behind us.
Last night, we got back pretty late to the airport, but there was a ton of people there cheering for us. A lot of them had signs too. We really appreciate the support of everyone a lot.
I can't wait for Game Five on Saturday. It should be an exciting game. I mean it's Game Five, on a Saturday afternoon, and it's televised on NBC. It's all set up to be an exciting afternoon of hockey. One thing that we have said is that we're going to battle all the way. No matter what happens, we're going to give the effort, and we're expecting to do that this Saturday.
5.2.07, 4:10 p.m. :::: LOOKING TO GAME FIVE
The weekend definitely didn't go exactly how we wanted, but we knew that we were in for a battle while playing the Rangers at Madison Square Garden. They're a very good team. You have to give them credit because they played really well in their own barn.
To get back on track, we just have to make sure that we put the past weekend behind us, refocus, and make sure that we are sharper in our house.
It's been a fun place to play all year and I'm sure our fans will be behind us on Friday.
Going into Game 5, there are some key areas that we really need to focus on, to try and retake the momentum from the Rangers.
I think if we get off to get a good start, and maybe get the guys involved physically, we should be able to get back on track. It'll be really good for us if everybody is finishing their checks, because that gets the fans into the game early on. We also have to try and get that first goal, because that is really huge in the playoffs.
If we do take anything from the last two games, it would be just trying to copy how we played in the third period of Game Four. We know how good we can be if we play like that.
I think at times that the Rangers had trouble handling us in that last period. That's what we have to get back to. If we can do that, we definitely like our chances.
4.30.07, 3:00 p.m. :::: THE NEW YORK MARATHON
I'm still tired from yesterday's game, but I'm not too bad. The important thing last night, and today, is to take care of yourself. I just make sure I get a lot of rest, eat well and keep hydrated.
We are all really left on our own, nutrition wise, in a game like that. We know our own bodies and what we need.
For myself, I just made sure that I kept hydrated. I drank some Pedialyte, some power gel and some water during the intermissions. Some other guys may grab a nutrition bar or have some fruit. Each player is different, but our staff makes sure that we have what we may need or want in our dressing room.
We have battled all year and have had to bounce back from a tough loss in the past.
In the playoffs, that is what it's all about...the ability to bounce back and stay on the level.
Anything and everything can happen in the post-season. We know we can play better. The key is to continue to generate chances and play simple. It's important to pay attention to all the details. We just have to use our experience from last year, and this past season, to be prepared for tomorrow.
4.26.07, 2:39 p.m. :::: MOMENTUM ON THE POWER PLAY
Sometimes the power play isn't clicking at all, and it seems like you get a break or you get a goal, and that helps to get the unit going.
I think that in last night's game against the Rangers, we created momentum out of our power play. It's definitely something that we want. If we're not creating anything, then we're not doing our jobs. If we do get those opportunities, it kind of gets the crowd into it and gets everybody on the team going.
I think we did a pretty good job, besides not putting the puck in the net. We moved the puck around pretty well, and had some opportunities. Unfortunately for us, Henrik Lundqvist made some big saves for them.
When you get in the position where you aren't converting on the power play, you start thinking about what you could do better: what you could do to create more time; more space; and better opportunities.
I think that in the second period, we got a big goal on the power play and that got us going. We carried on after that.
Special teams in the playoffs are so important. They can help you win or can cost you a game. That's why, when we do get those power play opportunities, we want to make sure we can capitalize on them.
4.25.07, 9:27 a.m. :::: SHARPENING OUR GAME
I think the one thing that we can take from the first round is that we were reminded that the playoffs are not going to be easy.
Coming in, the Islanders were playing extremely well. They needed to win quite a few games to just get themselves in the playoffs. I think after Game One, they got their starting goalie back so that was a huge boost for them. It was a battle for us to get through that series.
There's definitely some things to learn from, going into Round Two, and we have got to make sure that we are ready for the Rangers. They are a team that has a lot of skill up front. You can just look at their lineup and see guys like Jaromir Jagr, Martin Straka, Michael Nylander, and Brendan Shanahan. They will make you pay if you turn pucks over. We have to make sure that we're a little sharper in every area of the ice.
It seems like we gave the Islanders some opportunities. We obviously want to be better in our defensive zone, especially against the Rangers. It was something that we worked hard on in the four days that we had of practice. Overall, we've been doing good things all year, so we just want to keep doing the things we have been doing well, add in those adjustments, and that should make us an even better team.
The Rangers are a little bit different from when we last faced them. They added Sean Avery towards the deadline, and he seems to bring energy to that team. Their goalie has also been playing really well since Christmas.
They've been on a roll, and they're one of the hottest teams coming into the playoffs. We really have to be sharp for them.
4.19.07, 2:40 p.m. :::: THE CALL
We were definitely pumped about the call. I wasn't sure what was going to happen there. The puck was in Ryan's pads, they end up reviewing it and made the right call. Our line was going out there to protect the lead and we were able to get a loose puck and score. It's definitely something that we're happy about.
It's something that we want to do. We want to put pressure on their defense. It's a lot harder to make a mistake if you're not under pressure. The way to cause mistakes is by going at them hard and forcing them to make the right play. We've created a few bounces that way and we're going to keep doing that. Hopefully, we can get a couple more opportunities.
We have to make sure that we're ready for them in Game Five. We're all aware that their backs are against the wall and that they are going to come out with a great effort. Each game has been tight all series long. We're not expecting anything different.
We just have to make sure we're ready and I'm sure we will be.
4.17.07, 10:39 a.m. :::: ROAD SUCCESS
All season we took a lot of pride in being a good road team and we were successful. Last night, we won our first road playoff game and that was huge. Obviously, we want to win every game we play, home or on the road, but it means a little more when you can get it done in the playoffs.
We try to to take a simple approach to our game on the road and last night was a big step on maintaining our confidence on the road.
It was good to score on the five-on-three advantage that we had.
Having the two-man advantage obviously allows us more room to set up our power-play on the ice. We try to form a basic set-up with a right-handed shot on the goaltenders right side and a lefty on the left side.
With one less defender, we have the opportunity to move the puck around a little easier for the best shot.
The basic goal is to get the puck down low to create the close shot or to get the puck up top for a big point shot. You saw that with Danny Briere's goal last night.
It is a lot harder to find that open shot with just a basic power-play as compared to a five-on-three.
4.13.07, 2:11 p.m. :::: MOMENTUM ON THE POWER PLAY
It was huge to get the power play going in the first game of the series. Special teams are such a big factor in the playoffs. Last year, overall, we did a pretty good job, and to start off this year with two power-play goals, and almost a third, is a really good start.
Randy Robitaille had just come out of the penalty box on Drury's second goal, so that's could have been three power-play goals last night. Our penalty kill was great too, holding New York without a goal, so it's definitely something that we're excited about.
The Islanders will probably have a few adjustments in Game Two. We expect them to come out really strong to start the game. You always want to win one game when you go on the road, so I'm sure they will make a few tweaks.
But for the most part, we're more worried about what we do than what they do.
4.11.07, 2:54 p.m. :::: RESPECT FOR THE ISLANDERS
The Islanders deserve a lot of respect. They're definitely a team that has earned their right to be in the playoffs.
You look at how the games were going on around the league, and they didn't get any help from any other teams. They've had to win every game down the stretch. And for them to make it the way they did, in the shootout on the last day, was pretty amazing.
Their goalie has been tremendous for them. Wade Dubielewicz has been really good between the pipes, while filling in for Rick DiPietro.
New York has a lot of skill throughout their roster. You look at a guy like Miroslav Satan. The Buffalo fans should know how good he can be, because he played here for a while. They also have Alexei Yashin, who at one point in time was one of the best players in the league. He still is one of the best, once he gets going and gets the puck. He can really make things happen out there. We also can't forget about Jason Blake, who has a ton of speed, and can put defenses in vulnerable positions.
They have a lot of guys that can make plays, so we have to make sure that we have an eye on those guys, and try to stick to them as much as we can.
I can't wait for this series to start. The players are obviously excited, but the city sure is excited as well. I think that that's the fun part, that everybody's behind us mentality.
It should really be a great atmosphere at the arena when the puck drops for Game 1.