|Colorado's youngsters chipping in|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 22 April 2008 00:33|
Advance and learn, though.
The Colorado Avalanche had five players making their playoff debuts in a first-round series win against Minnesota.
The players feel like they emerged on the other side as grizzled veterans - in part because of their growing stubble from their playoff beards.
``With every playoff game under your belt, you get more of the butterflies out of the way,'' said Stastny, whose team will face either Dallas or Detroit in the next round. ``I know I talked to a couple of the guys on the team and they calmed me down.''
Stastny didn't score his first goal until Game 5. He thought nerves may have played a part.
``You're trying not to force too much,'' said Stastny, who led the team in scoring during the regular season with 71 points. ``But it's the excitement. You want to help your team win.''
That's where playoff-tested players like Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg and Adam Foote, earn their stripes. They helped calm the nerves of the playoff newcomers, which also included Jeff Finger, David Jones and Cody McLeod.
Not so much with their talk, but more by their posture.
``I looked over at Joe before a game, and he's so calm. He's made a living of being like that in the playoffs,'' Guite said. ``How can you not want to emulate that?''
Guite was able to quiet his jitters, scoring one of the Avalanche's biggest goals of the postseason. Guite was fed a pass from Sakic in Game 6 and beat Niklas Backstrom on a short-handed breakaway, helping Colorado clinch the series.
In his haste and excitement, Guite could've missed the target. But he slowed everything down and placed a perfect shot into the corner of the net.
``As soon as the puck drops, you have to calm down,'' Guite said. ``If you grab your stick too tight, get a little too nervous, you start missing assignments and you have mental lapses. It's huge to calm down and know what's going on.''
The Avalanche's postseason rookies have pretty much been able to do that.
Finger was solid to start the series with two assists, only to be benched after failing to touch up the puck for icing in Game 3 that led to Pierre-Marc Bouchard's winning goal in overtime.
And while Jones may have had just one assist in the series, Colorado coach Joel Quenneville raved about his play.
Not just him, either.
``Our young guys contributed in a big way,'' Quenneville said. ``We had some real good efforts.''
McLeod said he was anxious before the first game against Minnesota. But that soon changed.
``Once you get that first 'bang' out there, you calm down a little bit,'' he said. ``I just try to go out there and do my job - get in people's faces.''
Stastny learned a valuable lesson in his inaugural playoff series: don't deviate from what works. He thought he was forcing things too much in an effort to pick up his first goal.
Now, he feels more relaxed on the ice.
``You've just got to do your thing,'' Stastny said. ``Come playoff time, everyone is chipping in.''