Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Elias cherishes being back in finals
By Mike Mazzeo
NEWARK, N.J. -- Patrik Elias has already done it all.
He’s won two Stanley Cup championships. He’s assisted on a title-clinching overtime goal.
Still, after a long drought, he’s glad to have another crack at attaining hockey’s holy grail.
“For me, after nine years, you forget how good it feels to be back here,” said Elias, who hasn’t played in the finals since 2003. “I’m loving it. I’m enjoying it. We’re ready to get it going here.”
Elias enjoyed playoff success during the early portion of his 14-year career -- all with the Devils.
“You go (to the finals) three times in five years (2000, 2001, 2003), you think like, it’s gonna happen again,” Elias said. “But after a couple years not advancing, especially when you’re getting older, I’m 36-years-old now, you cherish every opportunity you get, and obviously being this far, you appreciate it more because you don’t know how many more chances you’re gonna get.”
Elias was arguably New Jersey’s most consistent player during the regular season. Centering the team’s second line, he notched 26 goals and a team-high 52 assists in 81 games.
It was the first time in his career that Elias had played center for an entire season; he’s been a left winger for the most part ever since he came into the NHL.
“I liked it. I think that’s a good thing for a coach to know with me I can play any kind of position,” said Elias, who will serve as the team’s third-line left winger on Wednesday night in Game 1 against the Kings at the Prudential Center.
“This year every game I felt like I could do my job and be productive, and if not, I’d do different things to help my team succeed.”
Devils coach Peter DeBoer has appreciated Elias’ veteran presence -- especially around the younger players on the roster.
“Because he’s been around, he’s been in every situation imaginable, there’s nothing that has come up this year that he hasn’t been through before. He’s got a coaching mind in the dressing room for us,” DeBoer said earlier in the playoffs.
“In all honesty, it was critical that he bought into what we were selling as a coaching staff early so it would translate to the room. Probably him more than anybody, because he had played here for so long and won with an obviously different style, it was critical that we got him and Marty to buy in, and he was all-in from day one.”
Elias has just six points and is a minus-five in 18 playoff games.
Yet he doesn’t put much value into personal success as long as his team can capture the ultimate prize.
“Obviously my points are not there in the postseason,” he said. “But we’re winning, and I don’t need to get a point as long as we keep winning. I know that I can help out in different ways, in different situations, and that’s what it’s all about.”