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PLAYOFF FIRST-TIMERS EAGER FOR GAME 1

Tuesday, 04.13.2010 / 11:59 AM / Features
By Anthony Perez
GLENDALE -- The Coyotes are preparing for their first trip to the Stanley Cup Playoffs in eight years. For eight players on the roster, it will be their first taste of the NHL’s postseason.

But instead of being nervous about Wednesday’s first game against the Detroit Red Wings, all of them are looking forward to the experience.

“I feel great,” center Martin Hanzal said. “This is going to be my first experience in the playoffs. I’m really excited and I want to go as far as possible and have some good memories.”

Forward Daniel Winnik also expressed those feelings.

Daniel Winnik/Photo by Getty images
“I think there’s more excitement than anything,” Winnik said. “And I think you’ve got to treat it like a regular-season game, maybe treat that first playoff game like your first NHL game; use that energy in every shift and throughout the playoffs.”

Hanzal says that some of the team’s veterans have talked to some of the younger players about what to expect in the playoffs.

“The old guys, like Shane Doan, Ed Jovanovski, they’ve talked to us,” Hanzal said with a smile. “Coach Dave Tippett and (General Manager) Don Maloney talked to us before practice (on Monday) as well and they just said that the hockey is going to be better.”

Defenseman Keith Yandle said that some of the veterans have given him some insight into what playing in the postseason is like.

“You’ve talked to guys who have played in the playoffs, and they’ll tell you it’s a lot faster, a lot quicker,” Yandle said. “More hitting, everything is a little faster. Every play counts and we’ve got to fine-tune our skills to get ready for it.”

Hanzal
Hanzal says that getting a chance to play in the playoffs means a little bit more to the team’s homegrown players who have been through the recent ups and the downs of the organization.

“It feels great,” Hanzal said. “No one gets a better feeling than Shane Doan. In this locker room, how he’s been through all the trials and tribulations with this organization… It’s nice; myself, Yandle, we’re down in the minors there, it’s nice to come up and be a part of a winning program.”

Forward Lee Stempniak has played in 374 NHL regular-season games, but he has never played in a postseason game. He says that he’s been waiting for this moment for a long time.

“I think it’s really a lot of excitement,” said Stempniak. “You play so hard, you work out in the summer and play all year long to get into the playoffs, and I think you’ve really got to be looking forward to it and anticipating it. There’s a lot of excitement and I can’t wait.”

Lee Stempniak/Photo by Getty Images
As far as what some of the playoff first-timers need to do against Detroit, Winnik says that their game needs to be simple.

“I think we’ve just got to play our game, as cliché as that sounds,” Winnik said. We’re a strong defensive team and we can’t get away from that.”

Yandle says that he is going to keep playing as aggressively as he did during the regular season.

“Unless they tell me differently, I’m going to stick with the things I’ve done,” Yandle said. “Every guy has a role, every guy brings something different to the table, and I think if everyone does that then we’ll be fine.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following Coyotes players have never played in the Stanley Cup Playoffs:
Paul Bissonnette, Martin Hanzal, Sami Lepisto, Zbynek Michalek, Lee Stempniak, Viktor Tikhonov, Daniel Winnik, Keith Yandle.

 
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