“We have to stick together and focus on this one last game. Whatever happened last game, it happened. We don’t want to look back to it. We really just want to focus on this last game. It’s do-or-die, so we’re going to approach it that way and everybody’s going to be ready.”
On the fact that it’s the Devils:
“Yeah, whoever it is. Obviously everybody wants to play good against us and knock us out of the playoff picture. That’s understandable. But we have to focus on ourselves, focus on our game, and make sure we play like we’ve played most of this season—with a lot of energy, a lot of grind, and that’s how we’re going to do it tomorrow.”
He did not want to talk about being benched after his horrific defensive play (or lack thereof) against Atlanta.
“We’ve got to worry about ourselves now and just worry about our game and make sure we get two points. That’s all we can do now.”
“We’re putting (Thursday) behind us. All we’re thinking about is tomorrow’s game, about 24 hours from now. Everything’s in the past. We’ve got one game and we’ve got to do our thing.”
On the Devils:
“I don’t think we care who it is tomorrow, but being the Devils, there’s that rivalry. I don’t think it matters. Our blood should be pumping.”
I asked him, and just about everybody, if he will watch the games tonight:
“Yeah, I’ll probably check it out … I’ll be cheering for Atlanta, that’s for sure. I’m sure everybody’s going to be either ticker-watching or watching the game. It’s out of our control. We’ve got to basically worry about our two points tomorrow.”
“We’ve got to be loose tomorrow. You know, this is it. We can’t lose. So we’ve got to throw everything at them. We’ve got to stay patient at the same time. We’ve got to play our game, play the way that’s made us successful and we’ll be alright.”
”(Patience against the Devils) is something we’ve always talked about. You can’t get frustrated even if you go down. Sometimes it seems we get frustrated and impatient and try to do too much. We’ve got to … we might win that game 1-0; it might be in the last seconds that we score. We’ve got to stay with it.”
“Going back to what I said a week ago. No predictions still. Keep getting stronger every day and hope to help if they need me.”
“I don’t think that’s really even in the equation. I skated hard today and the whole goal of skating is to have a good 12-24 hours after. We’ve had that. So, I just want a good rest of the day and see how it feels tomorrow.”
Is it beyond the realm of possibility that he plays tomorrow?
“Again, it’s day to day. I don’t know a better way to say it.”
On having short memories, and if that can really be done:
“Absolutely. I wouldn’t be as confident and upbeat as I am today if I was still thinking about last night’s game, because last night I was pretty pissed off. So, yeah, last night’s gone. We’re ready to go tomorrow, so it’s exciting.”
“I will not watch the game. Obviously, I will check the scores to see what happens, but it won’t be on my television.”
“We’ve played really well in games after we haven’t played our best and I expect nothing less tomorrow. We had a great day today. We had a great practice and I think the guys are together and the guys are confident and we’ll be ready.”
On the Devils:
“No. Obviously, games against them are always tough. But we have to approach it like Game 7. That’s what it is for us. We have to win the game to get into the playoffs, so I don’t care if it’s them or the Vancouver Canucks or New York Islanders. We’ve just got to be ready to go right from the get-go and play our game for 60 minutes.”
On Game 82 being a motivator:
“Yeah, I mean, obviously we’ve got to have that fire. We’ve got to come in with that urgency and that fire. The feeling after that game, I can still feel it. Obviously it was a year ago, but you don’t forget the way that feels. So we’ve got to make sure we take care of ourselves. And we’re pretty confident we’re going to get help from some other teams.”
On how long that feeling lingered:
“I don’t know if you can get over it. Every time you miss the playoffs you miss an opportunity to play for the Stanley Cup. You look at the team we lost against (Philly) and where they ended up (Stanley Cup final). I think that our guys in here should be thinking about them as us. You know, here’s an opportunity to get in tomorrow, the last game of the season. And we’re pretty confident in the group of guys we have in here. By the time we win tomorrow we’ll have won 44 games and beaten some of the best teams in the league pretty consistently, so hopefully we’ve just got to get the job done tomorrow and we can carry some of that confidence into the playoffs.”
I asked how they can deal with the anxiety of the games tonight being out of their hands:
“It’s going to be hard to ignore it. But I think the best way is to—actually I can only speak for myself; I think everybody’s is different and some guys might watch the games, some guys might do something completely different just to save energy and think about tomorrow. Me personally, I will definitely think about the game tomorrow already tonight. It’s an early game.”
“I don’t think I’m going to watch Carolina. I’ll probably check the result, but … I’ll probably stay away from hockey tonight just to re-energize and before I go to bed I’ll probably think about tomorrow and what I need to do.
“I will probably check the score before I go to bed.”
Can they use Game 82 from last year tomorrow?
“I don’t know. I ‘m going to go into the game tomorrow … I talked about it in Philly (Sunday)—just be in the moment and focus on the game and what I have to do, and not so much about consequences and other teams or what happens if we win or lose. You just have to focus on your job and to be able to do that you have to really be in the moment and break it down to, for a player, just the next shift, and for me, stop the next shot. That’s it.”
“Being there, you know what you can improve. You know what was good and how you approach the game. But, like I said, it comes down to how you block everything out. To be able to play your best you really need to be focused on your job and nothing else. Not what’s going on around you or the consequences. So, blocking everything out, that’s what I’m going to try to do.
“But going down the stretch, I think that the mind is the biggest part, how you approach games, how you think, how you make decisions. Physically everybody’s good. It’s just your head, your thoughts. That’s what you need to be able to control.”
On expecting the Devils’ best:
“Yeah. Well, it’s two games left for them, and every team you play now, they’re going to play as hard as they can. If you’re in, you obviously want to make the playoffs. If you’re not you want to end the season in a good way. And for them, playing us here when we have a lot to play for, it’s going to add excitement for them as well. We have to be ready. There’s nothing to save for.”
“We have to see this as a Game 7, playoffs. If we don’t get it done tomorrow it probably will be over, so we don’t room for any bad games now. We just have to go out there and do our best. We can’t put too much pressure on ourselves. We just have to go out and enjoy it and see it as an exciting game and a great challenge. That’s usually when you play your best.”