Matteau! Matteau! Matteau!

Photo courtesy of devils.nhl.com

Photo courtesy of devils.nhl.com

NEWARK — Surely, Stefan Matteau has been told that he’s a chip off the old block on countless occasions.  He just isn’t so sure himself.

Just 18 years old, the first-round pick of the New Jersey Devils in the most recent draft is set to make his home ice debut tonight after seeing his first National Hockey League action over the weekend at Nassau Coliseum.  The son of long-time NHL’er Stephane Matteau, Stefan Matteau wasn’t quite sure how his style of play compared to his father’s.

“I couldn’t really tell you, because I never really watched him play,” Stefan Matteau said.  “I was too young to really remember, but from what I hear, we’re pretty similar; big body, can skate, power forward.  I’ve just got to keep my game simple.  Whatever he did, I’ll try to do that, he played 14 years.  I’m my own player though, so I’ve just got to work hard.”

Matteau was drafted out of the U.S. National Development program, but was cut from the preliminary World Junior Championships roster.  It may have been a blessing in disguise, as it allowed him to focus on his game with Blainville-Boisbriand of the QMJHL, for whom he scored 18 goals in 35 games.  Surprisingly polished with the media for his age, Matteau told The Trentonian that while he’s certainly enjoying life in the NHL, the way he approaches a game there isn’t much different than what he did for the Armada.

“It’s not that different, you just go the rink every day and then relax at home,” Matteau said.

“I didn’t really expect anything (about making the team) because of the lockout.  I knew that there weren’t going to be that many guys coming to camp, but it was kind of a nice surprise to get invited to camp.  I worked hard and I think I earned a spot to start the year.  I’ve just got to keep working if I want to stay here.”

It’s still certainly possible that the Devils could send Matteau back to juniors, so he’ll need to produce.  Although he went scoreless in just 7:26 of fourth line ice time in his debut — one he says he’ll remember for a long time — he did manage three shots on goal and could earn a chance to move up a line, which could give him the best opportunity to stick with the team.

“I hope he sticks around, he’s a good kid.  He wants it, he’s got it in him,” linemate Cam Janssen told The Trentonian.

“He’s a got a big body, he uses his body well protecting the puck.  I like playing with him.  I like playing with him, because every shift you have a chance of producing some sort of offense.  He shoots the puck, and I tried to get him his first (goal) last game, but the goalie made a good save.  Hopefully tonight, he gets one at home.”

It may come as somewhat of a surprise, given that they play completely different roles on the ice, that Janssen has been a good influence off of it for his linemate.

“I’m in his ear a lot,” said Janssen, “but sometimes you have to back off a bit, because you don’t want to overload.”

“He’s got a lot of questions, but there’s a lot of things to know; between the system and ‘when do we go out, and when do we do this’ and so on and so forth.  There’s a lot of little things that he needs to know, and I’m the guy and there are a couple other guys that he talks to and he feels comfortable with.  But, I keep an eye on him and let him know the little mistakes he makes.  It’s good to have that, because I know when I was coming in, there was a couple guys that did the same for me, and it helped out big time.”

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

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One Response to “Matteau! Matteau! Matteau!”

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