Pittsburgh -- All Casey Cizikas knew of the NHL playoffs before this season was whether he could stay awake for the second half of the nighttime doubleheaders on TSN or CBC during his preteen years in Ontario.
"You had to try and force yourself to stay up for that 10 p.m. West Coast game," he said. "That¹s all there was for us as kids this time of year."
Now, Cizikas isn't just playing his first postseason, he's thriving. With two goals and two assists in his first four games, Cizikas leads all rookies in playoff scoring.
"It's surreal," he said. Considering Cizikas' season started in September with AHL camp in Bridgeport, it's been a long ride to tonight's Game 5.
"That feels like a different season," Cizikas said of starting the year with the Sound Tigers. "Even just March, the [NHL] regular season, feels like a long time ago. I honestly didn¹t follow the lockout at all. I was focused on Bridgeport, with what was I was doing. When the NHL camp came, I just tried to do what I could to make the team. Every day is a new challenge."