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SCHNEIDER HIT RESET BUTTON AT CHRISTMAS
The Star-Ledger reveals negativity had started to sneak into Devils goalie Cory Schneider’s mind during his first-half struggles.
“I’m generally not a negative person. And there was no negativity coming from the team and the guys,” Schneider told The Star-Ledger Wednesday. “But sometimes you do get into a negative place where you get upset more easily and get irritated more easily.
“Maybe you should channel that into working harder and being positive and trying to fix the mistakes rather than getting annoyed at them. That was just me being hard on myself as opposed to anything else. I want to win and I like to win. When you’re not doing it, it weighs on you a little bit.”
Coach Pete DeBoer believes Schneider reset himself after Christmas and the goalie agrees.
“Sometimes when it’s not going the way you like, when you’re in it every single day it’s hard to take a step back and gain some perspective and pull positives out of it,” Schneider explained. “I’m pretty tough on myself. I expect a lot out of myself and I don’t want to let myself off the hook for anything.
“Sometimes maybe I can be a little too hard on myself. I wasn’t playing my best in December. Just getting away for a few days, being around family for the holidays sort of gets your mind away from all the negative thought and all the things that are on your mind. You kind of come back with a new mentality. Just sort of try to sort all over again instead of carrying the stuff you’d been carrying the last few weeks.”
NHL EYES MORE GOALIE EQUIPMENT CHANGES
Kay Whitmore, NHL senior manager of hockey operations, tells The Toronto Star it’s highly probable the league will continue to make tweaks to the maximum allowable dimensions of goaltending equipment in the off-season. Catching gloves, upper-body padding and knee protectors are on the league’s watch list.
“It’s the first time there’s been segregation among the goalies … Some of them are saying, ‘Enough’s enough. Let’s just weed out the problems here. Why should I lose my job to a guy who’s wearing big equipment?’” said Whitmore.
“I remember what Marty Brodeur said to me one time, ‘Just give me what he has at the other end, and if it’s fair, I like my chances.’ If that attitude prevailed through more of the goalies, the game would be better off.”
More Whitmore: “If it’s an athletic save, it’s as exciting as a goal. Sometimes we were getting to the point where these big pads were just getting in the way and the pucks are just hitting them. I’m not saying there’s a right way and a wrong way to play goal. But when you watched Mike Palmateer and those guys as a kid, it was exciting. It made you want to be a goalie.
“We want to see the best athletes (wanting) to be goalies again. Football always has the best athletes at wide receiver and quarterback. Goalie is the most important position on most teams. Why not have the best athlete?”
RAFALSKI NOT SURE IF NHL IS THE GOAL
The Windsor Star delves further into Brian Rafalski’s hockey comeback with the Florida Everblades of the ECHL, wondering if the NHL is the end goal.
“I don’t know,” Rafalski said. “It’s not what I want. For the last 2 ½ years I’ve had no calling to do that and the people around me know that.
“I haven’t done much as far as training or anything so God put this in my heart in early December and I’ve been praying and he hasn’t told me not to continue. All I can do is follow his will.”
On where this path might lead: “We live down here, so it’s where God’s put me. I’m not leaving. I have too many commitments here right now. My family is established here with my two boys in school. They’re not going anywhere.
“I don’t know where he’ll put me tomorrow no more than where you will know where you’re going to be tomorrow versus 100 percent certainly. So where this leads I don’t know.
“There are those things that would have to be addressed.”
JETS PLAYERS IN ‘BOBBLEHEAD’ MODE
The Winnipeg Sun details how new Jets coach Paul Maurice has taken a forceful approach during his first two days of real teaching.
“He’s very demanding,” said Jets centre Olli Jokinen. “Now you have a new set of eyes watching you and you see a lot of guys paying attention. There’s no screwing around between the drills. You see a lot of bobbleheads out there — guys are nodding and listening. That’s usually what happens for the first week when there’s a new coach. He wants us to do everything fast. He wants us to pass the puck hard.
“This is the NHL. You should be able to do those things automatically. That’s what he wants us to do in practice. Once you start doing those little things in practice right, it’s going to be automatic in the games.”
CECI APPRECIATES NHL LIFE WITH SENS
The Ottawa Citizen notes 20-year-old Senators defenceman Cody Ceci, who has played 15 straight games since being recalled from the AHL, knows it’s dangerous to start thinking about tomorrow and beyond.
“It’s just kind of going day-to-day, enjoying it as much as possible,” said Ceci. “Having that mindset doesn’t allow me to drift. The main thing has got to be to focus on every game, every practice, every shift.”
On appreciating what he has now: “It is nice to fly everywhere and get the food that we get and stay in the hotels we do. Everything just adds up and it’s a pretty cool thing.”
WILD’S YOUNGSTERS INVESTING IN FUTURE
The Star-Tribune describes how every day, long after most Wild players retire to the showers, several of the Minnesota Wild’s younger players –Charlie Coyle, Mikael Granlund, Nino Niederreiter and now Jason Zucker – are working overtime with the team’s assistant coaches.
“This is why our organization loves these kids,” said Andrew Brunette. “They’re willing to work. That’s the one thing you can say about all of our young kids is that they want to learn, and they’re willing to put in as much work as possible — sometimes probably too much work.
“The Ninos, the Grannys, the Charlies, the Zucks, they are out there all the time working on their game.”
HABS’ MOEN MAY KEEP VISOR
The Montreal Gazette relays that Canadiens forward Travis Moen isn’t 100-per-cent sure, but said he’s leaning toward keeping his visor on for the year.
“I think it’s not like it’s changed my game at all,” he said. “So that’s kind of your initial instinct, is it going to change my game? But I’ve got in a couple of fights and I don’t think it really changes anything.”
Moen noted he’s had three close calls in his career with two pucks and a skate near an eye.
“Your eyes are very valuable,” he said. “You only get two in your life, so I’m going to try and wear it and hopefully I can stick with it and get used to it.”
PANTHERS’ HUBERDEAU: I HAVE TO GET BETTER
The Miami Herald points out Panthers sophomore Jonathan Huberdeau has been struggling this season.
“There are no excuses, I’m not physically tired,” Huberdeau said. “The surgery, I couldn’t skate all summer. But now I feel pretty good on the ice. There’s no hip problem or anything. It’s on me. I have to get better.”
He hopes to find some fun in the game and stop pressing so much.
“I’ve been digging a hole, being negative all the time,” Huberdeau said. “I just need to stay positive. It’s good that the team is winning. That helps. Right now this is all about me. I’m going through a slump and I could be scratched or sent down. But they’re giving me a chance. I know I can have success here. I have to keep telling myself that. I wish I could snap my fingers and things go back like last year. But it’s a different year. I need to produce.”
BICKELL GOES TO YOUTUBE TO REDISCOVER CONFIDENCE
CSNChicago.com indicates Blackhawks winger has even been watching a little video of his memorable and impactful postseason to help rediscover his missing form on the ice.
“I’m going to YouTube and checking it out once in a while to give myself confidence to carry on in these games,” Bickell said on Tuesday morning. “You want to bring back good memories and good train of thought on and off the ice of what you’re capable of.”
He added: “Confidence goes a long way in this game and I’ve been lacking that lately. When I have confidence in myself, I know (coach Joel Quenneville) will have confidence in me. He’ll see it and hopefully everything will work from there.”