After a light practice that included a shinny game, Henrik Lundqvist was tossing sweaty gloves and tape rolls at Brandon Dubinsky during the forward's media scrum.
Brandon Prust related the story of how when he saw the Extra Effort Award trophy on the table on the ice before last night's game that he told Brian Boyle, standing with him on the blue line: "That's the MVP, that's for me." and was shocked when his name was announced. "I had no idea, nobody told me," Prust said. "And then he starts skating back before the picture," said Boyle, shaking his head.
I was standing with Joe Micheletti, his right arm in a sling following shoulder surgery, while he discussed with Mark Messier whether the Pens-Isles game would be a brawlfest. Mess thought "No", because Pens have to think about injuries, suspensions. But Joe pointed out that Isles heavyweights might be running around, with their season over.
And Mats Zuccarello, the Hobbit, was on his way from Hartford, in part because of his shootout skill. "Yeah, it has to come into our thinking, it’s crazy" said coach John Tortorella. …
"It’s not about correcting in practice now," said Tortorella. "It’s not about tape work, it’s how you feel about yourself as a player, as a group. I’m confident guys will recapture themselves and play a really good game (against the Devils)."
All the above, on what might be the last practice day of the season.
"We’re a good hockey team," said Tortorella. "We’ve had a really good year, we’ve got 43 wins, in the past five or six weeks, we've gone into San Jose, beaten them, gone into Pittsburgh, they opened the door, we beat them, we’ve beaten Boston twice, we’ve beaten Philly twice. We’ve played some clunkers, but we’re a good hockey club.Chris Drury, who skated with a regular jersey, is getting closer. Drury termed himself day-to-day, but when asked if he would play tomorrow, Tortorella said, No. No timetable,.. I’m not sure what the lineup’s going to be, we’ll make that decision tomorrow." Drury (knee surgery) has missed two months and has skated hard for five days. But with he and Zuke in, two players would ahve to sit. Matt Gilroy and?????
Marc Staal was held out for rest and treatment.
More Torts: "This team has bounced back from clunkers, from injuries, from a lot of games we’ve played. We have full trust that we’ll be ready to play. You need to look what’s ahead of you. They’ll do it tomorrow. I feel very comfortable with the club and their mindset."
"Ignorance and not thinking is very good for hockey players. If you’re thinking too much, you’re paralyze yourself"...
On monitoring Canes-Thrashers and prepping for Devils:
Dubinsky: "I'm gonna be as upbeat as I am today. I will not watch…We’ve played really well after games that we haven’t played our best. I expect that tomorrow. Games against the Devils are always tough. We have to approach it like Game 7. I don’t care if it’s them or the Vancouver Canucks or the New York Islanders, we have to be ready to go. We’ve gotta have that urgency and that fire. The feeling after that game (the shootout loss in Game 82 last season), you don’t forget the way that feels... we’re confident we’ll get some help from other teams."
Torts: "I’m sure I’ll check a few scores but I’m not watching any of that ----. You have to now, but the biggest focus is that we turn around pretty quickly and that’s good for our club."
Lundqvist: "I won't watch, but will probably check the score." Preparing for the game? "Just be in the moment, it's not so much about consequences or other teams." As for taking something from Game 82 last season, he said, "every year is so different. Maybe being there, there are ways you can improve, what was good, how you approach the game. But it comes down to blocking everything out and focus on your job. Going down the stretch, the mind is the biggest part."
Gaborik: "it’s do or die. Everybody’s going to approach it that way. We have to play like we’ve played most of this season with a lot of energy, a lot of grind."
Hey, I'll be watching at least part of the Canes game. And Buffalo/Philly and Isles/Pens. Why not? Have to keep you guys informed here and at twitter.com/stevezipay and write for the paper...Sorry, though, just can't see Carolina losing tonight.