Devin Setoguchi and Lukas Kaspar will make their National Hockey League debuts on Monday (5 p.m. PDT in a nationally televised Versus game that will also be available on 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com). A player’s first game is traditionally a nerve-filled day.
Following the morning skate and lunch, rookies try to take their usual afternoon pre-game nap. It has been part of their daily routine for years, but a much harder task when one is on the verge of finally making the NHL.
“I’ll try,” said Setoguchi.
Setoguchi won’t be the only nervous person when he skates against the Stars.
“I called (my parents) first thing,” said Setoguchi. “It’s pretty exciting for them and a lot of people who have followed my hockey career.”
For Setoguchi, his debut was delayed by a month as he made the club in training camp, but was sent to San Jose’s American Hockey League affiliate because of an ankle injury. He played in three games and did what was necessary to return.
“It was unfortunate that happened, but I went to Worcester and did my best,” said Setoguchi. “I focused on getting back in shape and hoped they would call me up.”
He’s hoping it’s not a one-game flash, but instead a season long stint. Setoguchi, who was selected in the first round (eighth overall) of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, is aware that there are players on the injured reserved list that will be coming back at some point.
“I want to stay as long as I can,” said Setoguchi.
To stay with San Jose, Setoguchi will have to play like he did during training camp, when he not only led Team Teal in goals, but watched his own end as well.
“They want me to use my speed, to finish checks and be responsible in my own end,” said Setoguchi. “I have to use my speed as much as I can to create offensive chances.”
Setoguchi knows the offensive chances won’t come as easily as they did in junior hockey, something he learned in the AHL.
“Up here, the level of play is so high, you have limited chances,” said Setoguchi. “If the chance isn’t there, you have to be responsible. You have to get pucks in and get them out.”