TAMPA, Fla. — Cedric Paquette enjoyed not just shutting down Jonathan Toews in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final, but also letting Chicago’s captain hear all about it.
Don’t expect him to shut up as the series continues.
“I think I’ve got to play my best game against them every night and just do the little details, just try to piss him off a little bit,” Paquette said. “Just a little slash there, talking to him a little bit, just chirping.”
The Tampa Bay Lightning centre, who figures to draw the matchup against Toews and the Blackhawks’ top line again in Game 2, has one more trick in his repertoire for Saturday night.
“I saw him at the Fresh Kitchen yesterday, he talked to me in French. I was surprised a little bit,” Paquette said. “I’m gonna talk in French now.”
Paquette isn’t afraid of a little trash talk and isn’t intimidated by lining up against one of the best hockey players in the world. The native of Gaspe, Que., is just 21 but in his second NHL post-season and is up for the challenge.
Coach Jon Cooper didn’t tell Paquette and linemate Ryan Callahan they’d be up against Chicago’s top line of Toews, Patrick Kane and Brandon Saad until game time. Callahan has been around the block a few times, but he didn’t want Paquette worrying too much about Toews.
“If I said I was going to give you a million-dollar cheque, would you run out and buy a Porsche right away just because you knew you were getting the cheque?” Cooper said. “I don’t want him thinking that, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m going to have to check Captain Everything.'”
Paquette has been a shutdown centre since playing for the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, when he was tasked with facing the likes of Nathan MacKinnon and Mikhail Grigorenko. By his own admission, was much more of an offensive player there and in the American Hockey League.
Part of Paquette’s role is yapping at opposing stars. He’s off to a good start.
“You can see it in their body language,” he said. “If they’re pissed off, you can see them hanging their head or shaking their head. Last game him and Kane, they weren’t happy.”
Paquette, on the other hand, was pretty happy about what he was able to do.
“It’s fun to see because that’s what you’re trying to do,” he said. “You’re trying to get him out of his game, and I think if we’re doing the same thing next game it’s going to be the same.”
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Stephen Whyno, The Canadian Press