Nick Paul says the experience of dropping Game 1 against the Maple Leafs in a Round 1 series that went seven games prepared the Tampa Bay Lightning for adversity and the prospect of another long battle with New York in the conference final.
- Nick, you talk about, you know, the preparation after coming off of a loss. But, you know, what's it like in the room-- for the [? newer ?] guys seeing that, you know, after maybe, like, game 1 in Toronto, or even game 5 when you guys are trying to rebound from a tough loss?
NICK PAUL: Yeah. I think our room's pretty steady, pretty spot-on of where we need to be. You know, we know it's a long series. We dealt with it with the Leafs. Obviously, you want to win game 1, but we didn't. You know, where do we go from here?
So we're picking each other's up-- each other up. We're confident. We believe in each other. We know what we have in this room and what we can do.
So, like I said, we had a good practice today. Everyone's mentally ready. We're coming together as a team, and we're gonna have our best foot forward tomorrow.
- [? Joe? ?]
- Nick, it seems like this group buys into their roles and has those defined. When you came in, what was kind of the message from Jon or those guys on what your role might be? I know it's kind of expanded since you've been here.
NICK PAUL: Yeah. I came over here, and I was a big third-line guy, you know, hard on the floor checks, create loose pucks, takes pucks to the net, and just kind of a player where I play where I need to be, what I need to do, go on the PK-- obviously, with some injuries, Pointer going down, stepping up the lineup, playing second-line center.
But, I mean, that's just the kind of player I can be. I can play left side, second line, third line, fourth line. Wherever I need to be, I kind of can take that role. So I think the coaching staff sees that.
I mean, not much needs to be said. I kind of know where I stand and what I need to do. And they just put me in those positions to succeed. So good communication when I got here. But I think I kind of know my role. No matter where I play, I'm not switching. Whether I go up the lineup, I'm not trying to change my game because my game style can play on any of the lines. So I'm just kind of keeping that role and not kind of drifting from it.
- In the front row here.
- You guys have not beaten the Rangers just in the few times you played them this year. Can that become a psychological hurdle at all, Nick, you know? Or is that--
NICK PAUL: Yeah, no, that's in the past. This is a seven-game series, first to four. So, obviously, we're down one. But that's behind us.
And now we're just focusing on the next game. I think the best way to do it is just a game at a time. Don't look too far ahead. Don't look behind. Look at the task at hand, and that's tomorrow night.
So, you know, like I said, we had a good practice today. We're focused on tomorrow. We're not worried what happened in the past or what's gonna happen in the future, so just a kind of right-now mindset.
- It seemed like it was pretty energetic out there. Do you feel like-- can you chalk up last night to be the nine-day layoff and all that kind of thing and move forward? And you believe that was an issue?
NICK PAUL: Uh, no, I don't think it was an issue. They played a great game. You got to give it to them sometimes. They capitalized on their chances. They brought it to us.
But, I mean, look at that first period. We came out. It was a tight game. They score. We score, tie it up. Big PK-- I thought our legs were moving.
But, I mean, we got to play a full 60 minutes. Sometimes, that's just how it goes-- didn't go our way last night. And, like I said, we just regroup, come together as a team, and be ready for the next one.
- We'll take two more for Nick. Go ahead, [INAUDIBLE].
- Nick, what-- as a penalty killer, what's the challenge of their power play? You guys had a good first kill against them. The second one, you got run around a little bit after you had the blocked shot, unfortunately. But what's the challenge with them?
NICK PAUL: Yeah, we just got to know, uh, their patterns and what they like to do and having good sticks. You know, you got to have good reads. You got to-- I mean, every time you go out there, their dynamic players are out there for a reason, right?
So they're gonna make some great plays. It's just how you respond to that. If you get [? seamed, ?] where's your recovery? Who's eating the shot? You're finding the most lethal guy in front.
So it's a lot of reads. But I think with our PK, we read off each other so well, and we communicate so well that if they do break us down a little bit, we kind of cover for each other. And we don't give too much up. And, you know, someone's making a big block in the back end.
But I think just reading their patterns, knowing their skill set, and kind of limiting their options that they want-- you know, we don't want any cross-ice one-timers. We don't want any shots from the middle, so just keeping it tight and, um, just kind of giving them the worst opportunity that we can give up.
- Last question, David [INAUDIBLE].
- Hey, Nick. Shesterkin, in the first round against Pittsburgh, got kind of rattled and pulled a couple of times and couldn't get his footing. Against Carolina, he was-- Shesterkin, he seems to be pretty comfortable as well. How do you guys get him out of his rhythm? Like, what is the big problem that he poses facing a goalie like him?
NICK PAUL: Yeah. We know he's gonna make some stops, but I think the biggest thing is having a second guy there for the rebounds. You know, if he makes the second-- first stop, and there's a puck there, just getting the puck in the net, you know, getting some grade-A scoring chances on him and putting the puck in the back of the net and make him think a little bit.
But, I mean, no goalie likes traffic. You know, it's hard to make saves when you got bodies in front looking through screens. So I think just getting bodies in front, shooting through screens, and second and third rebounds are there, crash the net, and kind of put some home, you know?
He's a good goalie. He's gonna make saves. But if you stay on him, and you don't lose confidence, I mean, good things will happen.