|Senators rookie forward Colin Greening was all smiles Wednesday night in Atlanta after scoring his first career NHL goal to start Ottawa to a 3-1 win over the Thrashers (Scott Cunningham/NHLI via Getty Images).
Back home on the Rock, they don't much care exactly how the puck went in.
Neither did Colin Greening
, the pride of St. John's, who was still beaming on the morning after he scored his first goal in a Senators jersey to start Ottawa on its way to a 3-1 road victory over the Atlanta Thrashers. Back in the Newfoundland capital, it's caused quite the stir, indeed.
"I think my parents had more people call them than anything," said the 24-year-old rookie forward, who's fielded his own share of congratulatory calls and messages. "I talked to them after the game and they said when it went in, the phone never stopped ringing.
"You want to be able to score goals. I kind of pride myself on being able to put a few in, at least. When that first one went in, it was a sense a relief but also a sense of excitement. You always think about the first goal going in, scoring your first NHL goal, when you’re like five and six years old. It was definitely nice and I’ll definitely cherish that puck."
That first-goal puck, Greening said, is headed back to Newfoundland — "my parents would really appreciate something like that" — and imagine how that will be received in a province that always celebrates the achievements of its own with great gusto. He hopes to give them all plenty more to cheer in the future.
"Hopefully, it’s a sign of good things to come," said Greening, a seventh-round pick (204th overall) by the Senators in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. "Whenever you make it to the NHL, there are little steps, little things that make you feel like you’re finally getting there. It was nice to get the monkey off the back but, hopefully, it’s just a stepping stone to better things."
For a guy who admitted surprise when he got his first call to the National Hockey League a month ago, this was a surreal moment of sorts. And one more chapter in a story that just keeps getting better. Just two weeks back, the 6-3, 211-pound forward had tongues wagging with his efforts at Sens Skills presented by Metro. Now this.
"Ever since that skills competition, (Greening) kind of opened guys' eyes up to what he can do and he's been doing it on a nightly basis," said Senators forward Nick Foligno
. "We were happy to see him get that goal last night."
"Each game, you build more confidence and that’s understandable. I remember my first game in New Jersey (on Feb. 1), I was very nervous. You want to belong and you want to feel like you deserve to be here. As you progress and you get a few more games under your belt, you get to feel more comfortable and start to build a relationship with the guys. You feel more comfortable in the dressing room. So that all helps. I think I’m at a point now where I’m still very, very new at this, but I’m just trying to learn as much as I can." - Colin Greening
And with each passing game, Greening settles into NHL life just a little bit more.
"Each game, you build more confidence and that’s understandable," he said in advance of tonight's matchup against the New York Rangers at Scotiabank Place (7:30 p.m., TSN, Team 1200). "I remember my first game in New Jersey (on Feb. 1), I was very nervous. You want to belong and you want to feel like you deserve to be here.
"As you progress and you get a few more games under your belt, you get to feel more comfortable and start to build a relationship with the guys. You feel more comfortable in the dressing room. So that all helps. I think I’m at a point now where I’m still very, very new at this, but I’m just trying to learn as much as I can."
Learning has never been an issue with Greening, who carried a 3.99 grade-point average (out of 4.00) during his final year at Cornell University, where he majored in applied economics and management. Though he speaks in jest, he's already figured out a better way to describe his goal, which banked into the Atlanta net off Thrashers defenceman Dustin Byfuglien.
"For anyone who hasn’t seen it, it’s going to be end to end, top corner, backhand," Greening said with a grin. "It’s not going to be the way it actually happened. Never let the truth get in the way of a good story."
Then again, storytelling should come easily to Greening — his father, Fred, worked for the CBC for more than 40 years, most recently as a documentary producer for Land and Sea
. And as a former TV and radio reporter in St. John's, he learned the value of a good quote, a quality he's tried to instill in his hockey-playing son.
"He’s been in the trade long enough to know the tricks of the trade," Greening said of his dad. "He’s always big on not giving the same old jargon, the ‘same old hockey talk’ as he (puts) it. Sometimes, when you’re tired and you come in after a period and you’ve got to do an interview, that’s all you can muster. But whenever I say the same stuff the other people say, he’ll tell me.
"(Dad) always talks about giving specifics and examples. It makes for better television, I guess."
Around the boards
No surprise that Senators head coach Cory Clouston will give goaltender Craig Anderson
his seventh straight start tonight against the Blueshirts. Since coming to Ottawa in a trade with the Colorado Avalanche, Anderson has gone 4-2-0 with a 1.16 goals-against average and .966 save percentage. He turned aside 42 shots in the win over the Thrashers on Thursday night. "It’s definitely the best I’ve felt all season," said Anderson. "When you’re winning and you’re playing well, it’s always a confidence booster. You want to continue on the peaks as long as you can and minimize the valleys. The key to that is just trying to stay even keel, preparing the same way and not getting too overconfident" ... Also scoring a first in Atlanta: Defenceman Derek Smith, whose assist on Foligno's third-period goal was his first career NHL point. "He's come a long way," Clouston said when asked about the 26-year-old blueliner's progress this season. "He’s really come on and been more comfortable and a little bit more confident. He just trusts in his game and to me, it’s the reads that are a lot better. He’s not trying to force things, he’s keeping his game simple and just making the easy play."