BASTIAN BLOG – UPDATE 1 – PROSPECTS CHALLENGE
Hey Devils fans!
I’m bringing the blog back for rookie camp. Did you miss me? 🙂
The past six weeks or so have been pretty tough. Everything on the track and in the gym got harder. Obviously, the intensity ramps up and you have to double down on eating clean and working out so you can prepare as best as you can for a camp that you’re not even sure how hard it’s going to be. You just have to push yourself and be ready to go for whatever. So, that’s what I tried to do.
At the end of every season, you want to play as long as you can, but it’s also nice to be able to go home and see your family and friends for awhile, but there’s a point in the summer where you’re ready to get back at it. There’s a switch that gets flipped and you’re just so excited to play games again and that happened for me about a month ago, so… I seriously couldn’t wait to get here. I was counting down the days.
We have a new head coach and added another assistant coach to the mix so there are some new faces and new people to impress this year.
Haven’t heard too much about Coach Dennehy, but I know he came to a couple of our games at the end of the year to see our boy Brett [Seney] because he had coached him for four years in college. I asked Brett – I’m sure we all did – about him and he had nothing but good things to say about him. So we’re excited to learn more about our new coach and what he’s like and how he can help us all be better.
We have three games here in Buffalo at the Prospects Challenge – Buffalo, Boston and Pittsburgh – this weekend. The staff told us how important it was for us to get into games before we head into main camp and that we can’t waste the opportunity to play against prospects from other teams and really test and push ourselves. For most of us, this might be the only chance we get to wear the Devils logo all season, so if you don’t go out and make the most of it, you’re doing it wrong.
It’s so exciting to think we have a game tonight. It feels like it’s been forever. There are scrimmages in the summer and you can practice and workout all you want, but there’s nothing like playing in a game. I know I’ll have some cobwebs – hopefully not too many and, hopefully they all come out in warmups, or at least the first couple shifts – but I’m really excited to get out there and show off all the hard work I’ve been putting in this summer.
BASTIAN BLOG – UPDATE 2 – PROSPECTS CHALLENGE
Game 1 was good. There was a full crowd to see the Buffalo boys, so it was nice to play in front of a packed house, but I’ve said this a couple of times…I don’t care how hard you work in the summer, you are not in game shape. I couldn’t believe how tired I was. We all know how many decision makers are in the building and everyone is absolutely working out there to make a good impression. It was pretty tough.
The loss was unfortunate, but it was actually a pretty good game for us. Everything the coaches talk about – battling for each other and being relentless and willing to do whatever we need to do – I think we did pretty well. Personally, I did pretty good.
Something I pride myself on, especially being a big guy, is being good in and around the net. If there’s a loose puck, that’s my area and I remember Marian Studenic must have hit the post two or three times and it turned into a bit of a scramble. I got there as quick as I possibly could and the puck was just sitting there for me to pop in. I don’t think goals like that are particularly pretty, but it was definitely a Nathan Bastian goal. I like scoring goals like that and that’s what I need to be doing to be successful. So, I was pretty happy to be able to contribute that way.
That said, being a young pro, I need to be more consistent. That game was good, but I have to keep doing it and keep getting better and not look back.
I also want to mention that the boys were really good last night against Pittsburgh. I didn’t play, but watching it, there were a lot of good things. My favorite player was Cam Johnson. I thought he was great. He’s an interesting guy and he’s got that ability to make that sick save. It’s kinda crazy. He just moves so well and has this great glove and he’s sliding around in the crease and he’s just a really good goalie. We saw a little bit of it last year at the end, but it was really good to see him play so well last night. I was happy for him.
Gignac did well with his two goals. Speers did his thing. Q was Q. Of the new faces, Smith can obviously play. I’m impressed with Bernard and Groleau. They’re big boys. Sissons. Seney was great. Honestly, I could go down the whole roster. Everyone played well.
It’s pretty cool to see everything come to life. When I was drafted a couple years ago, you hear about the players they want and the character guys they want and all of a sudden you look around the locker room and around the ice and they’re here. It’s awesome. We have a lot of fun on the ice and even more fun off it. It’s a really fun group to be around, but it’s also great to have that kind of internal competition among us.
If you’re sitting there in the summer and you count spots in New Jersey, you’re doing it wrong. So much can happen in a tournament like this. We saw Jesper Bratt do it last year and we know there’s opportunity to show what you can do. We’re all here to tryout for the Devils, but we’re all at different spots in our career. Some of us know that we’re going back to juniors. Some know it’s their first year pro and they have a lot to take in and some of us – like Q and Speers – who have NHL games under their belt have nothing but making the NHL on their mind, but we all have the same end goal. So when you’re talking about battling for spots, that’s not up to us, but we can all show them how we fit the bill for what they’re looking for.
Today, we didn’t have any games, but we had practice and we were expecting a pretty good skate. For the entire Devils organization, everything’s fast, fast, fast and that’s not just in games. It’s how they want to operate in practice too and you can see it watching our drills. We are always moving and not spending too much time waiting around and that’s exactly what Coach Dennehy gave us. We, of course, asked [Brett] Seney about it and he said we’d be seeing a lot more of that this year.
Tomorrow’s game against Boston will be another opportunity to show that I can be consistent and hopefully help the team get another win. Starting at 9:30am will be interesting. Normally, I like to get to the rink about two and a half hours, maybe more, before the game, but tomorrow I’ll just go whenever the bus takes me over and I’ll have to adjust. Just another opportunity to show that you’re a pro and can handle anything.
I will say the bus ride back to Jersey will be a lot more fun if we win than if we lose. So, I already want to win, but that’s just a little extra motivation for us to get that W.
BASTIAN BLOG – UPDATE 3 – PROSPECTS CHALLENGE
We had an early game today – 9:30 puck drop. I had to wake up at like 6 and I was tiiiiired, but as soon as I got to the rink, I kind of forgot about what time it was because it didn’t matter any more. As soon as I get some coffee in me, no matter what time of day it is, I’m good to go.
We had another good showing beating Boston 6-2. All the things we’ve talked about in terms of how we’re supposed to play, I think we did that again today and I think, as a group, we had a pretty consistent weekend. Individually, I was happy with what I was able to do and show too.
Mikey [Michael McLeod] was good. He was really good. He was playing fast and that’s what he’s good at. He put himself in good spots and scored two goals. It was a good day for him.
I said the six hour bus ride home would be more fun if we won, but I got on the bus and fell right asleep. I don’t even know where we are right now. I think guys are pretty tired. There’s not too much going on, but we’ve got a movie on – Super Troopers – so that’s good.
The best entertainment so far might have come at the rest stop. Q [John Quenneville] was in line to buy a drink and there was a guy who saw the Devils logo on his warm up and thought he was a fan and started talking about the team and Taylor Hall and Cory Schneider’s injury and Q just kind of nodded, smiled and responded politely. Then, [Ryan] Schmelzer walked over and he had a Devils t-shirt on. The guy goes, “Oh, another fan!” and continues to share his opinions on the team. Then, he saw Mackenzie Blackwood, who was also in line, and asked if he’d ever heard of “Martin Brodeur, the best goalie of all time.” Blackie jokingly said he was just ok and the guy started listing his stats including his recent selection to the Hockey Hall of Fame. Despite the fact that he said he was a Rangers fan, that guy might be the best part of the trip back to Jersey.
For all of us, the chance to be at an NHL main camp is something that we’re all pretty grateful for. Not a lot of kids growing up playing hockey get a chance to do that, so we’re all looking forward to making the most of it and having the chance to skate with players like Taylor Hall. They’re always so impressive and there so much we can learn from them. It will be a lot of fun.
No matter whether it’s been development camp or rookie camp or main camp, I’m always pretty hard on myself to preform well and this year I know what to expect and knowing that makes you more comfortable and being more comfortable makes you less nervous. So if I can get my head into the right mindset, it gives me the best chance to perform well and do what I’m able to do out there and hopefully do enough.
With that in mind, I won’t be updating the blog during main camp so I can focus on that, but thanks for following along. I hope you enjoyed it.