A few leftover quotes from practice
Here are a few quotes from after the Albany Devils' Thursday practice at the Times Union Center.
Albany left wing Joe Whitney on St. John's: "We haven't seen them this year, obviously, but we know they have a high-powered offense. They've got some good players over there. I think we're up for the test. It should be fun tomorrow night."
Albany coach Rick Kowalsky on St. John's: "They can play all styles of game. They've got a good mix of skill and grit. Their top line of [Jason] Jaffray, [John] Albert and [Andrew] Gordon – Gordon and Jaffray both veteran guys, both proven American League scorers, different types of players. Then as you get down their lineup, similar to us, they've got a good mix of speed and grit. In their bottom half, guys that hound puck, some smaller, pesky guys, then some bigger guys like [Patrice] Cormier who are going to bang. The back end, for me, is going to be the biggest adjustment. I don't think we've seen any team that activates their D [as much] in the rush. Not only one, sometimes two are going to be involved every opportunity and get up ice. We've got to make sure we're sharp, we've got to make sure we're physical and got good angles and don't let them skate."
Kowalsky on starting the best-of-five series with two home games: "I think it's important that we take advantage of it. Sometimes, I think, starting at home can be a disadvantage, too, especially with some guys with not a lot of playoff experience. So we've talked about keeping it simple and getting that nervous energy. Supposed to be good crowds. We've played well here all year, so I think that certainly is an advantage, but I think it's important to get settled into our game as quickly as possible for a couple reasons. Just to get the butterflies out, and we've had a long time to sit and wait for this day to come. Guys are going to be a little bit nervous. I think it's important to establish our game and get the crowd into it early."
Kowalsky on figuring out his lineup for Game 1: "We've had a pretty good idea all week. We've got some guys, McKelvie is cleared to play now, so obviously, he could be inserted and be a factor. I think the tough one's on D. We have three or four capable guys back there who can all play, and all have played all year. It's a little tougher on the back end. Up front, we feel comfortable with everybody stepping in. Like I told the guys, this is a short series, so if we need to make changes, they need to be ready. It may be the result of a right-hand, left-hand shot, it may be the result of somebody we may need on the power play, it may be a toughness thing, it may be a speed thing. Guys have got to be ready, because in a short series, you have to do everything you can to win the next game."
Kowalsky on the atmosphere in the room: "I think they're excited. I think you can tell in practice that guys are anxious to get going. I think we are, as a staff. We've been watching video until our eyes bleed all week. Just the way our last quarter of the season has gone, it's usually three-in-three, you're playing on Sunday, and you really don't get back to the drawing board until Wednesday. Well, we were at it, as a staff, Monday. Then we started feeding it a little bit to the players or talking about things Tuesday. Some of these guys haven't played since last Wednesday, as well, and that's a long way off. I think part of our anxiousness comes from that. Again, the importance of our first couple shifts, the first five, 10 minutes of that first game are really important."
Whitney on the Devils having little playoff experience, except from juniors and college: "Any experience like that can help. There's a lot of guys in there who haven't been, at this level, but it's just a hockey game. At the end of the day, you've got to up your intensity level and compete level and just go to work out there. It's the same game, and we're really looking forward to it."