“When we outwork the opponent, we’re a pretty tough team to beat and I think we showed that this weekend. And everybody’s excited.”
On playing with Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov:
“It’s been fun playing with those guys. Right from the start, the three of us were ready to work and we’re starting to get chances, we’re all hard in on the forecheck. That’s where we create our opportunities — causing turnovers. It’s a pretty easy game when you play with guys like Dubi and Artie.”
On the difference between this year’s team and last year’s.
“It’s a whole different team. I don’t really like to talk about last year’s team. I think this year everybody’s really realizing that if we play together, play our system, and we work hard, we’re going to have success.”
On the way they won these games, with penalty kills, blocking shots, sticking up for each other.
“I think it’s important, especially this early on in the year, to have everybody buy in, everybody doing that — blocking shots, sacrificing themselves, sticking up for each other. I think it brings a group of guys together pretty quick. I think you show that by the way we’re playing out there.”
I asked if he sighed after he scored.
“Absolutely,” he laughed. “I’ve been getting opportunities but they haven’t been going in, so it’s nice to get it.”
On playing minus Gaborik, Drury and Prospal.
“Obviously, if we had those guys it would be a huge help, but it’s certainly a good sign (winning without them).”
On following up wins with wins.
“That was the mindset before the game, that those other two games don’t mean that much if we come out and stink the joint out at home. So we’re trying to model ourselves after a team that wins, a team that’s won and done it for a long time. And that’s winning three in a row, four, five, and not losing two games in a row, and making sure that happens.”
On the common thread in the winning streak.
“I just think our work ethic. That’s most important. Obviously, the way we stuck up for each other in Boston was big. But the work ethic is there and I think that’s the most important thing.”
On the Devils.
“We knew the pressure was on them after what happened with Kovalchuk. They’ve had some tough games lately. We’re at home, it’s our building, and we’ve got to set the tone. I think we certainly did that with our first period, which we haven’t done in a long time. It’s a positive, for sure.”
On Anisimov’s improvement.
“I think everybody here in New York knew what kind of talent he was, and I think it was just a matter of time before he came into his own. Right now his confidence level is high and I think, Cally and myself and him, the continued conversations we have throughout practices and throughout games, and getting ready, that keeps all of our confidence levels high. We go out and if we do the things and put in the effort as a line, we have the skill and ability to be successful if it’s couple with hard work.
“He’s got that long reach and he worked hard this summer to build some muscle and get stronger, and I think you’re seeing signs of that here early. It’s a joy to play with him. It’s all starting to come together for him.”
On the Devils’ struggles.
“Yeah, certainly, that was our main focus, to come out and try to put some doubt in their mind. Every team’s been in the situation they’ve been in, a bit of a skid, and we understood what types of meetings and preparation they were going to have coming in here. But at the same time we knew that if we came out hard, hopefully we could put some doubt in their mind. To their credit they kept fighting all the way to the end. It was a tough game tonight, and I think every guy will tell you that they’re pretty tired righty now.”
On the common thread in the wins.
“Consistency. I think if you look at the games before that that we were losing, we were inconsistent. We put some good minutes together. We certainly feel like one of those games we could have won. But you can’t have any letdowns. Everybody talks about a 60 minute game, but as close to that as you can get, the more successful you’re going to be, and right now that’s kind of what’s been helping us win these games.”
On the hit he took during the late penalty kill.
“I just took a hit. It was a good hit. It’s part of the game. It’s a tough game, so sometimes it stings a little bit, but no worse for the wear here.”
On a late shot that he thought had gotten through him
“It was deflected and instead of going in my stomach it almost went through my arm. I wasn’t sure I made the save or not, and it was almost like, for a second there, I thought it was a goal and my shoulders dropped a little. But the next second I realized the puck was in front of me.
“So you need some luck. Tight games, you need that extra bounce, and tonight we had it. But I think we earned it after working so hard the whole game and really, I think we played a solid 60-minute game.”
On the common thread:
“I think we played simple and hard. The guys have been working really hard and it’s been paying off. We’re just finishing checks a little more, and guys are skating a little harder, and a lot of blocked shots. We’re really paying the price the last couple of games and it’s great to see.”