Playing hockey games which mean so much in the month of May is a new experience for Senators defenseman Marc Methot.
Prior to this postseason, he had not experienced this in his professional career. Having spent his first six NHL seasons with the Blue Jackets, Methot's only taste of the Stanley Cup playoffs was a brief four-game sweep at the hands of the mighty Red Wings in a 2009 Western Conference quarterfinal series.
This past offseason, Methot was traded to his hometown Senators. As a result, he's teamed up with a former Norris Trophy winning defenseman in Erik Karlsson and regularly drawing assignments against Hart Trophy candidate Sidney Crosby in front of frantic Canadian crowds.
Today, Methot talked about his role in defending Crosby, his captain Daniel Alfredsson and his first taste of postseason success.
How important is being the home team in this series?
“Having that last change is a huge factor for us. It’s going to be a challenge on the road for us and we’re aware of it but that’s why these games at home are so much more important. “
What has it been like defending Crosby?
“We know our matchups. [Erik Karlsson] and I are matched up against Sidney [Crosby]. It’s no secret. We were matched up against him all last game. There’s another match up on [Evgeni] Malkin’s line. Those two lines and possibly even their third, are strong lines. But I love those challenges. That’s why I get up and play this game. It’s certainly a challenge against Sidney Crosby. “
How do you defend Crosby?
“You’ve got to give the guy a little respect in terms of what he’s capable of doing or he’ll burn you. But at the same time, you can’t respect him too much. You’ve got to make his minutes hard minutes. I think for a defenseman such as myself, that’s when you’re doing your job."
How difficult is it to play physical against the Penguins?
“They’re the best team in the league and there’s a reason for that. They’re don’t themselves in vulnerable position. People can say [we’re] not playing physical. We’re trying but they’re the best hockey team in the league. That’s because they have the puck on their stick and they don’t put themselves in vulnerable spots. “
What was it like when Alfredsson scored the tying goal in Game 3?
“It was unbelievable. Of all the guys on the team, it’s our captain that ties that up. What do you say? He’s an unbelievable leader on this hockey team. He gets us up and motivated. He’s arguably the hardest worker in practice. We just follow his lead. “
What is it like playing with Alfredsson?
“He’s probably the best captain I’ve ever had. Everything he does from preparation to how hard he works on the ice. The biggest thing for me was, even in practice, seeing him compete. You see how competitive and passionate he is about the game still. I think that’s why all the guys respect him so much. “
What is it like being in the playoffs after having little success with the Blue Jackets?
“It’s been, at first a little overwhelming in a good way. Especially when you advance to the second round. I find people start recognizing who you are and what your game is all about. It’s only a good thing for each player on this hockey team. For myself personally, I’m just enjoying now. I’m just enjoying every day coming in, especially for the game. Seeing how the fans are and the excitement of the city, that’s huge. “
Did you watch the playoffs anytime you missed them with Columbus?
“Yeah. I loved it. I watched those CBC intros and getting all fired up for the games. I watched all the [Senators] games. “
Was it tough watching playoff games when you didn’t reach the postseason?
“Every player who doesn’t play in the postseason thinks about it. I had a little taste of it when I played in Columbus against Detroit for the one round [in 2009]. For a lot of us, it was kind of like a deer in the headlights feel to it. But now, I was really able to soak it in being my home town. It’ was really cool.”
(Photo: Jana Chytilova/Freestyle/Getty Images)