| Marian Gaborik will have a new supporting cast this time around in the NHL playoffs. |
The 2003 NHL Playoffs was Marian Gaborik's coming out party when the third year star scored nine goals and eight assists in 18 playoff games while leading the Wild to the Western Conference Finals. Four years later, Gaborik has a new supporting cast and a boatload of optimism heading into his second NHL postseason.
On his thoughts about heading into his first postseason in 2003
I was very excited for my first time making it to the playoffs and looking forward to playing that first game. I was so pumped up as was everybody else on the team. We won the first game over Colorado 4-2 and that ended up being a huge game for us. It was a great feeling.
On the dramatics of the 2003 Stanley Cup Playoff run
We were down 3-1 in both of the first two series [The Wild were the first team in NHL history to come back from back-to-back 3-1 deficits]. The Colorado series was incredible we came back late in the game and “Bruno” [Andrew Brunette] scored that beautiful goal to win game seven – and the series – in overtime. It was a great feeling to come back from 3-1 and beat one of the favorites to win the Stanley Cup. And to do it especially in their building was awesome.
On the fan support during the 2003 playoffs
The whole city was living hockey at that time, which was great. We sold out every game, of course, and you could just tell that people were loving it. The fans provided lots of support for us and it was a big help. It's a great feeling playing in this building as it is but when I think about the support we had during the playoffs, it was amazing.
On the lessons he learned from the 2003 playoffs
It was obviously a great experience for me. It is a totally different kind of hockey that is much more intense and physical. The whole game is elevated to a different level. That's what is so beautiful about the playoffs, everybody is competing even harder and it's a good challenge.
On how the Wild will prepare for the 2007 Stanley Cup Playoffs
Everybody on the team is excited about making it to the playoffs and we will prepare ourselves accordingly depending on who we play. We will also have to prepare ourselves on a personal level to get ready for this. You can see and feel the vibe in the locker room before and after practice and the guys know it's going to be a big challenge for everybody to elevate their games to that next level.
On advice he’d give to the younger players making their first trip to the playoffs
I think the guys who haven't been there will learn pretty quickly how they will have to elevate their game. The words “Stanley Cup Playoffs” are something new for some of these guys and everybody is going to be excited. And it will be a big challenge playing at the elevated level for the guys who haven’t experienced it yet. You really have to change your expectations. And the atmosphere is totally different at home and also on the road. It's a brand new season.
On his favorite aspects of the Stanley Cup Playoffs
On the ice its the atmosphere and just the game itself. You can really feel the intensity and the excitement coming from the players and the crowd and everybody is just pumped up. Off the ice its preparing for the games and just getting that vibe with your teammates, the fans and everybody around the game. It's perfect and its why we play the game.