Daugavins Ready to "Do His Job"
BostonBruins.com - Kaspars Daugavins is ready.
It hurt to watch from up top as Gregory Campbell staggered with a broken leg into passing lines to finish his shift on the penalty kill - his teammate laying it all on the line.
With Campbell now out for the rest of the playoffs, it leaves a hole.
"Like every other team, you have to find ways to fill it, some of it will be by other bodies, some of it will be by other guys stepping in," Bruins' Head Coach Claude Julien said following the team's morning skate prior to Game Four.
All players will have to step up. And it will be Daugavins stepping in.
"I’m ready to jump in, and I’m excited for the opportunity," said the forward, who took morning rushes on the left wing, with Rich Peverley shifted to center and Tyler Seguin on the right wing (Chris Kelly was centering Daniel Paille and Shawn Thornton on the Merlot Line).
"It’s hard to watch games from up top. It’s easier to play than watch so I’ve been waiting for this moment all playoffs pretty much and this is what I want to do. I want to be on ice and help the team."
Though it will not be official until Coach Julien submits his roster tonight prior to game time, the B's bench boss talked about Daugavins' role coming into the lineup.
"He's a gritty player. He's strong on the puck, strong as an individual, he can shoot the puck. Got a lot of qualities," he said.
"We've always said we've got depth on this team. We showed it when injuries crept up on defense. Now we've got an injury up front. He's going to have to step in and do his job."
Daugavins hasn't played in game action since May 1, in a 4-1, Game One win over Toronto, when Rich Peverley was a healthy scratch. Tonight would mark just the third NHL playoff game of his career (he played once with Ottawa last season against the Rangers). Through the end of the regular season, he played six games with the B's and recorded an assist.
But he has been staying in game shape, along with the other scratches, with hard practices, extra skates and work with the coaches and trainers.
"It’s not that hard. Obviously we have extra guys here so we all work hard," said Daugavins, on staying ready. "This is what we do, we’re professionals. We’re in a position where you might be going in any time so you have to be ready. Get some bike rides, some skates and you’re good to go."
And even though it was one game, he can draw on the experience of the game against Toronto.
"It helped playing that one game even because Toronto played us hard and even we won that first game by three goals, it wasn't easy," he said. "So I kind of remember that it was hard. So I expect that same thing tonight and it won't be easy."
And when Coach says "do his job," what does his game constitute?
"Make sure from the start I just have to play with a lot of energy. Make sure I keep it simple, because I haven’t played in a while and get pucks deep and that's where my best game is, down low on their end," said Daugavins.
"Try to out-battle guys and take pucks to the net and just overall playing a smart game. Make good decisions with the puck."
"I try to play an all-around game. It’s not like one kind of player. If I get a puck I’ll still try to look for making play. If I see that I want a play, I’ll just chip it deep and try to chase it and help muscle guys from my puck. It’s kind of all-around style. I’m comfortable doing it, and the system fits well too."
The defensive system plays to Daugavins' strengths. His simple playing style epitomizes the Bruins' turn good defense into offense mentality.
"Obviously, defense is my first goal. You always have to get the puck first. Once you get it, you go forward and play offense. If you play in their end, you don't have to play defense," he simply explained to media.
"So that's what you try to do. Less defense you play, more energy you have and it make them think about it; they get tired. The goal is to play in their end, but if you have to play defense, you're going to do great - you can stop, start, hit people, block shots, do whatever it takes."
And his legs should be fresh...
Daugavins smiled, "Should be, yeah."
The legs will be fresh, and he will be just focusing on
"When you haven't played in a while, you might be on a line, playing, not playing but you try to think about it less and less," he said, of feeling a bit nervous. "You know how to play hockey - you've been doing it your whole life."
"I think guys just have to go out there, work hard and enjoy it. You never know how many times you're going to be in playoffs and playing, so you have to take that with you and enjoy it."
So, is there more pressure because he's coming in after a month to a series-clinching game?
"I don't think about it as finishing a series; I think about it as winning one game and any game you win," said Daugavins.
"Today's goal is to win a game and obviously, clinching comes with it. Nothing changes. You just come out there and want to play your best game. We know in this group if we play our game at 100 percent, we match-up well. That's the goal - as long as we're ready, we'll be fine."
Wherever he ends up in the lineup, and whatever various situations he's put into on the ice, Daugavins is ready to help his teammates.
"No matter where they put me I’m going to try to do my best for the team. Try to do whatever Coach tells me to do and play to the best of my ability. Maybe score some goals and make some big plays on defense. Its just a hockey game, you can’t really tell what is going to happen."
Coach Julien has options with his six forwards on the third and fourth lines. But if Daugavins slots in on the third line, where's he expected to, with Peverley and Seguin, he's looking forward to helping out any way he can.
"I think they've been playing well - sometimes scoring doesn't come that easily, but we'll try to turn it around today," said Daugavins. "Every day, it starts from zero. Just try to go out there, make some good plays offensively."
"Sometimes those pucks go in, sometimes they don't but have to make sure we have more chances in their end than we have against - that's the goal of the game."