I’m happy that we have already clinched the playoff spot. This was a clear goal for us. During the season we have never really found ourselves on the edge of the playoff spots nor have we had a long losing streak. So recently we haven’t been under such pressure in terms of surviving or not.
But there’s still a lot at stake! We still have a chance to be the first in our division and also in our conference. We also want to start the playoffs at home, which is very important from my point of view. However, our division rivals have a lot of points compared to other teams, so even if we have more points than other teams in other divisions have, if we don't end up first, we’ll find ourselves behind the first three division winners. That’s why it’s important to try to win our division and our conference.
But it’s gonna be tough. We´ll have to work hard for every point because in the last four games we are going to face our biggest rivals, the Rangers and Pittsburgh, twice. And until then, we have to stay in touch with them, so that those final games still have any importance. It would be too bad to play those games feeling the result can´t really change anything any more.
But it’s a good thing that there’s still something at stake. The worst thing is finishing the regular season with no passion, with a big lead in points. It’s very hard then to start the team again in the playoffs. It’s not like a car when you easily start the engine with the key.
It’s very likely that we’ll face Pittsburgh or Rangers in the first round as well. They are both very good teams. But if we want to win, we must be able to beat simply anyone, so it doesn’t matter. If one wants to be the best, he has to beat the best. There’s no other way.
As for me, I feel really fine. Only it´s true that our line hasn’t scored a lot, it could have been better. Perhaps it will come with the playoffs. I myself have scored 18 times and it’s true that I used to score a lot more in the previous seasons, but I don’t mind much. It is about me helping the team, not watching my stats every day or checking if I´m still in front of Teemu Selänne who is chasing me in the all-time best European shooter. That is beyond me.
What I care about is the team. Maybe it looks like we’ve been playing well recently but it’s not like that really. Even though we often win, I don’t think our play is always so good. It will just do to beat some teams. So it seems than when we keep playing at some 60 or 70 percent of our best, we can still win. But that's misleading. This will not be enough in the playoffs!
We have to work harder. It’s vital to realize this. The fact that we win doesn’t mean that we always play well. With such a feeling of satisfaction it could be a short track in the playoffs and we would regret it bitterly. We have to remember that. And that´s why the team has players like myself – we have enough experience to be able to say this clearly to the younger players.
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