After being scratched for four consecutive games, Dustin Jeffrey returned to the Penguins' lineup during last night's 4-0 loss to the Islanders.
Playing primarily on the second line with James Neal and Evgeni Malkin, Jeffrey logged 13:20 of ice time and recorded two official shots on net. It was the first time in over a year that Jeffrey saw more than 13 minutes of ice time in a game. He was involved on several offensive chances during five-on-five play and even manned the team's second power-play unit logging 1:57 of ice time with the man advantage.
Today, he talked about his game:
What was your reaction to getting back into the lineup and having an elevated role on the second line?
"It’s a coach’s decision. I just try to get myself ready. We’re not really sure night-to-night who’s going to be in the lineup and who’s not. For me, it’s about preparing. If you get those opportunities, you have to try to make the most of them. Moving forward here, if it’s going to be the second line or fourth line, you just got be in the lineup and make an impact in the game where ever you are and that’s what I’m trying to."
What's your role on that line with Malkin and Neal?
"Obviously they’re great players. You want to get them the puck and try to get open and create space for them. With ‘Gino’s’ and ‘Nealer’s’ shots, if you give them a little bit of space, they can get shots away. Just trying to create a little bit of area for those guys."
So you almost have to do the "dirty work" on that line?
"It’s not like those guys aren’t in those areas working either. I think you just try to support them. They’re very creative. Be in areas where you think that they’re going to put the puck. We had a couple of chances in the second and third period by being in the zone. For our team to create offense, I think we need to start doing more on the cycle in the offensive zone and less relying on rush plays to create our chances."
How do you rate your performance?
"I think there’s room for improvement. Coming back the first game in five or six, I got stronger as the game went on. Obviously there’s a lot I could do to improve on that performance."
What do you have to do moving forward?
"Just to be confident on the puck. If there’s a play to make, make it. But if there isn’t, we have to have the mentality that we get pucks in deep and go to work that way. For myself, keep it simple but if there’s a play to make, you have to have the confidence to make that play."
(Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)