Your club has lost eight of its last 9 games. How much does this slide remind you of last season’s six-game losing streak?
It’s starting to resemble it, I think, because of the fact that last year we were playing some pretty good hockey. We had a few of our top guys that were having trouble scoring goals. During that time we were also shooting the puck a lot, creating a lot of chances. We were outshooting our opponents almost every night by a sizeable margin and yet we played in their zone for a while, came down and next thing you know they’d score on their first opportunity. We’d go back, put all this pressure on them, and they’d come down and score again. So it’s frustrating. It’s a lot like that skid last year. I’m convinced, looking at the way we’ve played these last few games, that we’ve played some half-decent hockey but we’re getting some tough luck. Obviously the goaltending situation hasn’t helped us, either.
21 of the Rays’ 41 games this season have been decided by one goal. How much does that concern you?
Early on I think we were winning all those one-goal games. As of late...I think we’ve had some trouble in the one-goal games, especially last weekend. A save or two here or there can make a difference in a hockey game. It’s a fine line to walk between for us, especially, I think, over this last stretch. I felt a lot of those games could’ve gone the other way, and I’m sure if we stick with it things will come around for us.
Probably the biggest news of the week has been the acquisition of Jonathan Boutin from Victoria and the loan of Jeremy Duchesne from Philadelphia. How did those deals come about?
Losing Bobby Goepfert, obviously, was a big blow to our hockey club. He got a great contract offer to go over to Austria, clearly walking away from the American League in Portland. It was a bit of a surprise but it was probably a good career move for him. We’re excited; when we’re recruiting these guys we want to open doors for them, and we felt we did that with Bobby. They had three goalies in Victoria, and also three in Manitoba (AHL), so it just became a situation, making sure he (Boutin) was the guy. Although we were looking for a goalie for a good length of time, we were looking for someone who could carry us down the stretch run and be a number one [goaltender] for us. With the amount of time (Michal) Neuvirth is spending in the American League, and with Bobby gone, we were looking for a real quality guy, and we feel that we found that with Boutin. With Duchesne, we kind of lucked into him. He was on his way up to Philadelphia from Mississippi; Philadelphia wants him to get some games here and get him playing. He (Duchesne) was driving right by with his U-Haul and everything, so we made a play at him to see if we could get him in until we get both of our goalies. We already traded for Boutin, and obviously we’re going to rely on Neuvirth, but right now Washington’s goalies are banged up. So he’s here, he’s going to play tomorrow and Saturday. And if we don’t get Neuvirth or Boutin by then he’ll play again on Tuesday and Wednesday. I think it’s a good situation for Philly, where he can come in and start playing as a starter and be relied upon. It just seems like a plus for us and a good move for Philly as well.
What’s the status of defensemen Josh Godfrey and Sasha Pokulok?
Well, Josh Godfrey – I guess I would characterize him as day-to-day or probable for this weekend. He skated this morning. And then Pokulok, I would say, is doubtful for this weekend.
What’s your thoughts on this weekend’s home games against Florida and Charlotte?
(Laughing) My thoughts are, we better win. We had a great week of practice, and I think that coming back in the Gwinnett game boosted the team’s confidence. We played pretty good, and we just have to continue to push and hope that our guys are energized after a few days off. I don’t see any reason why we can’t come out and get a win or two.
Finally, you had some success with it last season, but is it time to break out the summer suit?
(Laughing) No. It’s a long ways away for the summer suit yet. I’m not a big superstitious person; we just kind of got on a roll with that suit last season. But right now I’m going to leave it hung up in the closet.
Don’t miss any of the fast-paced, hard-hitting action of the 2008-09 season; purchase your ticket package today! For more information, including benefits, pricing, and package options, call the Stingrays at 744-2248 or view the information online at www.stingrayshockey.com.
Stingrays Hockey – A Whole Lot Cooler!