Last hour we looked at the evolving – and improving – game of Kevin Westgarth through the first three games of the series with San Jose.
Before the playoffs started, I asked coach Terry Murray if he expected to play Westgarth the entire series, to which he responded “No, probably not. He might play in the early part of the series and as you move into the deeper part of it, then you need to take a look at the line-up. And that is probably when minutes will diminish for that role.”
True to his foreshadowing, Westgarth’s minutes have declined from 8:56 in game one to just 2:28 during Tuesday night’s game three.
However, he’ll be back in there again tonight, playing on the fourth line.
Has Murray noticed a difference in Westgarth recently? Does he see it as Westgarth 2.0?
Murray – “He’s played better here in the last 25 games of the year, actually. His skating is really good and that’s because of working hard in practice and the tempo of NHL play has been really beneficial to him. When he’s out of the line-up, he’s in the skating club and really pushed hard. So, his feet are better, his reads are consistent now and he’s an intelligent guy. He’s a Princeton grad, you know. You cannot play recklessly or careless at this time of the year, to bring the referees into the game. He knows that. He’s going to be under the microscope more than any other player on our team – by the officiating and by the league. So, he’s taken on the play the right way – playing hard between the whistles, not getting over the line and as a result of that, I feel very confident in using him a lot. He’s been an important player.”
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