(Forward Colin Greening, a native of St. John's, Newfoundland, who saw 24 games worth of duty with the Ottawa Senators this season, is back in the American Hockey League with the Binghamton Senators for the Calder Cup playoffs. He'll provide some insights in a series of blog posts for OttawaSenators.com).
We have only two games left to play on home ice this season and it’s a little bit sad in a way. But to be honest, when you think about, we should be happy, too, that we’ve been able to play as many games as possible in this rink. It’s been a really good experience and we’ve had a fun time here, especially in the last couple of series when it’s really been packed in here. That’s made it even more fun for us to play at home.
The support we’ve been getting from the fans has been great as we've moved on through the playoffs. The building wasn’t quite as full during the regular season but that’s understandable, because we were up and down and no one knew if we were going to make the playoffs. It’s just human nature for people to jump on and off the bandwagon, but it’s great to see it’s become something for people here to rally around and talk about around the water coolers when they’re at work. That really helps the morale around the city and it’s great to see. It’s nice to see them come and support us the way they have, and we really feed off it.
We’re still in good spirits heading into tonight’s game. The three games we’ve played so far have all basically been decided by one goal. It would be a lot different if we felt like we were being totally outplayed, or if we weren’t scoring any goals and they were scoring six or seven goals a game. But it’s a different mentality for us and we all realize it’s just part of the game. The last three or four minutes of Game 3, we had some great chances that almost went in and tied up the game. You think about one shot or one post we hit that could have changed the outcome. Sometimes, when you look at it that way, you realize it could have gone either way.
Tonight’s game will be the 104th of this season for me, counting the time I also spent in Ottawa. Right now, it’s about just making sure you’re mentally tough and physically tough. Once you’ve played a certain amount of games, you just go out and play. At the beginning of the season, you’re in your best physical condition, but you still haven’t gotten into that groove yet, where you’re just comfortable on the ice and you’re just trying to get your game back. At this point, you might be a little more tired, but you compensate by just being able to go out and just play and make smart decisions.
Once the season is finally over, I’ll look back and I think that’s when it’ll all finally sink in how many games I’ve played. But for the time being, the most important thing is to focus on one game at a time. If I actually thought about the number of games I’ve played and how much travelling I’ve done this season, I think I’d get a little overwhelmed, so I’ve tried to block that out.
The last four years, when I was at Cornell, the most games I played, even with exhibitions, is maybe 38. In junior in Nanaimo, I played maybe 65 or 70 at most. So this is definitely the most I’ve ever played in a season. Once you get over the 100 level, it’s a little different. But it’s been a good experience, kind of a baptism by fire in my first season. It’s given me a good introduction to pro hockey.
This entire season has been about gaining experience. Whether you have a good or bad experience, it helps you in the long run. You can’t help but benefit from experience like that. You talk about people who run any business, that’s what they’re looking for ... they want people with experience who have gone through all those trials and errors. That’s something I’ll take away from this season.