Dan Ellis stretches to make a save against the Dallas Stars. (Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)
BY DAN ELLIS
I think going into your second season in the NHL is a bit different for goalies than for skaters. There are fewer surprises, you understand the players, and you understand what they do a little bit better.
You’re not as nervous going into some buildings because you’ve been there before. Some of those first-year nervous moments, like going into Montreal or Toronto for the first time can be somewhat intimidating, but at the same time enjoyable, whereas this year – my second NHL season – it’s just like playing in Nashville, you don’t even give it a second thought to where you are. You just play the game.
From that standpoint, I find it is easier this season. Obviously, when you’ve played in the league for a year, other teams have the opportunity to get to know you better and see some of your weaknesses, so that forces you to work on areas of your game that you didn’t work on or that were weak spots last year to become a better overall player.
You look at the goals that are going in on you and you try to find patterns. If there’s a certain type of goal that goes in consistently, then obviously there’s an area that you need to work on and that you want to try to improve. There is so much video in the NHL nowadays; you can go to NHL.com, you’ve got the ‘X’s and O’s’ program and the ‘Pucks’ program, so there’s nothing to hide anymore. Shooters are better informed today than they ever have been, so you have to stay on top of your game and try to stay ahead of the curve.
Our team in Nashville is a much younger team than it was last year. We lost a lot of skill and talent in guys like Alexander Radulov, Marek Zidlicky, Jan Hlavac and others, so at the beginning of this season we had a lot of guys - like rookies Patric Hornqvist, Ryan Jones and Joel Ward - still getting a feel for the game.
We have so many rookies this year that we needed an adjustment period at the start of the season. The game was a little more difficult – plus, we had some crazy goals going in against us – but by December, our team started to play a lot better in general and started to come together as a whole.
We’ve bared down defensively, which is something we didn’t do at the start of the season and obviously when the guys are playing better ‘D,’ it helps the goalie.
Dan Ellis was drafted 60th overall by Dallas in 2000, but played just one NHL game before hooking on with Nashville at the start of last season. By the end of the 2007-08 campaign, Ellis had taken over as the No. 1 and started for the Preds against Detroit in the first round of the playoffs.He will be blogging for THN.com throughout the season. You can read his other entries HERE.