After a solid rookie campaign in 2013, Mika Zibanejad will be looking to pick up where he left off as a sophomore in the NHL this season. Early impressions in camp are that Mika will slot in as the team's third line centre between Colin Greening and Erik Condra, though he has also taken quite a few turns with Mark Stone, on what has the makings of a line that plays all three zones very well.
Zibanejad offered up his thoughts on how he's progressing camp, playing centre and the Sens systems.
Here's what he had to say...
On how he feels through two sessions:
Good, just trying to get the lungs going here but I feel good, I didn't skate for three or four days there in between but I've started getting there. I think getting the right precision and everything is going to help a lot so we don't have to overwork, but I'm starting to feel better.
On he's more comfortable playing centre vs. wing:
I would say so. I feel like I get more room to skate and I feel like get the chance to take advantage of my game. It's a lot of having the puck and skating to give it to my wingers and skating through so I think I fit better in the middle. Hopefully I get a chance to.
On improving his faceoff work:
You have to get the timing going and know who you're up against. I think it's all about mentality, to be honest. If you get your mindset right before a draw you're going to win it. It's a big mentality question, you just need to bear down and get that draw.
On the differences in faceoffs between Sweden/AHL/NHL:
The draws are a lot different here, you get to stand a bit wider and a bit off. In Sweden you have to be straight on and the stick has to be in the little white part of the circle. It's very strict and I would say sometimes it's too strict to be honest. It's something I have to work on for sure. Your first year is always harder when the ref doesn't know you and he'll probably be tougher on you, but hopefully I can loosen up a bit. I think as the season went I got more too that way. I got used to how I was supposed to stand and all that so it was good.
On if spending extra time in Ottawa has helped his camp:
Yeah I think so, I feel more confident and stronger on the ice for sure. Like I said it's all about getting the conditioning going, the lungs going now but I feel stronger on the puck, I feel more confident and I think when you feel healthy you get more confidence because you're feeling stronger.
On how his chemistry is coming along with camp linemates:
We've only had two scrimmages so far and we're all kind of rolling around so it's hard but I like being with Condra and Greening and Stone, I think I started off with those two, they have a lot of speed and it's straight hockey. I feel like it's easy getting the puck in. I know what I'm getting out of them and they know what to expect from me, too. They're going to get that puck and come with speed so I think it's been pretty good. I liked playing with Conacher last year too. It was a lot of fun and we hang out a lot outside the ice too so we're good buddies that way. So far it's been pretty good too.
On how his game has developed since his recall:
It's gotten better, I took a couple of steps last year and hopefully I'll continue to do that this year. The all-around game, if you're quick in your own zone it's going to create chances for you offensively. If you're going to have all your shifts in the defensive zone it's not going to help you, obviously, creating offence. That's a major key for me is concentrating on the defensive part.
On how the Sens play so fast:
I think it's moving the puck. You can't skate faster than the puck and there's a lot of movement, a lot of puck movement, and very straight lines. Obviously going east/west isn't going to help us and I think it's north/south hockey, North Americans like it and I think that kind of does it, too. Everyone buys into the gameplan and the philosophy we have.
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