This is the first one of the year, and it's almost a month late...sorry! Basically all we've been doing this month is focusing on our games. I think we've come to an area where it's up to us to go forward, and we're doing well. Guys are feeling more comfortable with the system and it shows on the ice. We're getting along great as a team off the ice as well.
This is one of those times where everyone says it takes a great team, not just a good team, to get through adversity and tough times like we've been facing recently. Some teams go the other way and disband and fall apart, but this just shows the character of the guys in our room. We're proud of where we're at, we've given ourselves an opportunity and we're excited to hopefully be getting some guys back off of injuries soon. It's the perfect time for us to have guys come back.
Everyone always needs the All-Star break; it's a good time for guys to let the bruises heal, but for us right now, I think most of the guys would rather keep playing. We've kind of started to find ourselves here and I think everything is moving in the right direction. I don't think anyone's even looking at the All-Star break right now, which is a good thing for us. We've got our eye on the games in front of us, and that's where our focus is at. For us, we've slipped as of late when we're normally such a power-house at home and I think it's just a matter of us doing what we did on the road – just start over and implement the system that we now know we can play, and just go out and do it. That's what we've been doing, and we've been successful at it, so we need to continue to do so, and we're going to continue to climb.
We had a 10-day road trip to start the New Year, which is our longest of the season. It was kind of old-school hockey for us. I think it got us back to where most teams need to be. New Year's Eve, we had a big team meal, and there was no one really going out, it was all of us hanging out together and being together as a team. We had a good time, and we had a few days off in between where there was a lot of time together. There was nowhere to go, nothing was really open, so we relied on each other and I think guys started going out to dinner with different guys and we all came together. Every team needs a road trip like that, and it's just a shame we didn't have one like that in October. It was a stepping stone for us in learning how to come together and rely on each other and it definitely shows now. The room is much tighter now. All we can do is keep pushing forward.
OK, time for some questions:
We all have a playing weight that we have to stay at, and everyone's is different, because certain guys need different things, depending on ice time and things like that. Once you've gotten to your playing weight, it's up to you to stay there. We have weekly weigh-ins so we don't get away from it. When we have more games in a shorter time period, you may see guys eating more, eating after games to re-fuel. Diet is a major contributor for us, because it's the fuel we live on. The other big thing is fluids. We have to have a LOT of water, because we sweat out a lot, and just living in Florida makes you sweat a lot, even just walking around. We've got to make sure we take in enough water all the time.
It's surprising, but Range (Paul Ranger) can eat an obscene amount of food for being as thin as he is. I've never seen a guy eat that much. He cooked dinner for my wife and me last night, and he had…he must've eaten probably an entire chicken. It was unbelievable! I couldn't believe how much he ate. It's just obscene, and he's the thinnest guy. It's incredible. We've got a couple of guys who can really put it away, but he definitely comes to mind first.
Niki also asked in addition to practice, how often do we work out to maintain our strength and fitness.
It really depends on the game schedule. As important as working out and being on the ice are, rest is equally, if not more important, because you have to let your muscles heal. If your muscles are always tight, that's when you start to get injuries. Riding the bike is kind of a staple; most guys get in there, even after some games, for about 20 minutes or so. Some guys do push-ups, sit-ups, a lot of core work. Sometimes we'll have a few days off in between games, we call those maintenance days, where we have some time to do some lifting and maybe put some muscle back on. At this stage of the game, it doesn't take very long for us to put muscle on. It's almost more for therapy and rehab during the season, helping us to get through the bangs and bruises.
Phil asked my opinion about the Winter Classic, and if I would ever want to play in an outdoor even like that.
I enjoyed watching it, I thought it was great. I thought the weather was a bit of an issue as far as the length of the game, but other than that, I thought it was awesome. The guys that I've talked to who played in it enjoyed it and thought it was possibly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I would love to do it. I don't know how good the ice would be in Tampa….just kidding. It would definitely be a great time. I think the fans enjoy it, it gives them a different perspective and there were something like 90,000 people there, plus the TV ratings were good. I think it was well-received and I would definitely push to see more of them.
Well, like you two, I would have to say that my favorite is Face to Face as well. That's a pretty easy one. That, or Live Again. Live Again has more sentimental reasons for me. I was there, with Chris Dingman actually, in the studio here in Tampa and we were watching them when they came up with the intro to the song. It was really neat to be there for that, to see the process and be sitting there and watch them jam out.