Although the season is over for the Maple Leafs, Ben Scrivens and the Toronto Marlies are still going strong and will be playing for the Calder Cup this spring. I managed to catch up to the 25-year old puck stopper and we talked about his 12 games in the NHL this season, Tank Nation as well as some of the differences between the NHL and AHL.
Andrey Osadchenko: For a person who played 2 hockey games in less than 24 hours you seem to be doing pretty well. How tough was it for you?
Ben Scrivens: Well, it’s better than the normal AHL schedule where you got to bus back. I took a plane back home with the Leafs and got a little bit more rest. It was good. I guess, it’s no more hectic than playing in Rochester and having to play in Buffalo the next night. It’s a nature of being a #3 guy. You take this opportunity because I’d rather be doing that than just being down here and not having this opportunity.
Did you have to do a lot of adjusting coming back from the NHL to AHL?
No. My mindset going into the games is to focus on the puck and the shots. I’m not thinking too much about who’s shooting or what’s the situation or anything like that. It’s kind of you-versus-the-puck mentality. If you put in a good effort and you set up yourself early, usually you give yourself a good chance to stop the puck.
Skaters always say that there’s a huge gap between the NHL and AHL. What is the biggest difference for you as a goalie?
Probably the top line. The guys, who play on top lines in the NHL can make something out of nothing. You always got to be aware, not that you don’t have to be down here but still… I guess, you have to be even more aware if that’s even possible.
Sometimes there’s nothing you can do – they’re just going to end up putting some in. Top lines in the NHL are just this much better. This is why they’re Top-6 NHLers. Down here it’s young guys who will be this in a few years. They’re not as consistent in doing it but they’re figuring it out too.
You got a total of 12 games in the NHL. Was the game against the Habs any easier than you first NHL game against the Blue Jackets?
I wouldn’t say ‘easier’ but I felt more comfortable. With each game I felt more comfortable. You’ve got that feeling when you get in a situation and you’d made a save in a situation like this before…it’s not that you’re relaxed but you feel like: ‘Okay, I’ve been here, I’ve done that. If I put in enough effort, I give myself a good chance to make a save.’ Whereas the first time you go through it you kind of feel like – pardon me – ‘Oh, shit!’ You’re just trying to get your body in the way. But then after you’ve been through this a few times you become more comfortable.
You played some games for the Leafs in November. How different the atmosphere was in the dressing room back then comparing to the end of the season?
Obviously, when I went up the Leafs were already out of the contention for the play-offs. So the atmosphere wasn’t really upbeat. But they are all professionals and very competitive guys. We wanted to win. We were trying to win every game.
I went up and went 2-1-1 against a Buffalo team, who was fighting for a play-off spot, a Tampa Bay team, who was trying to push [Steven] Stamkos for 60 [goals] and there was obviously a rivalry game with Montreal. These were not easy games. I think the guys really put in some effort to come away with some points at the end.
A lot of Leafs fans were rooting against their team at the end of the season. The movement was called ‘The Tank Nation’. As a Maple Leaf, how do you feel about it?
I understand what they’re saying. I was a fan once too. But from my perspective – we had our pride and our jobs on the line. If you’re a guy who gives up, how many guys would want you on their team next year? Like I said, we’re all competitive guys. We hate losing. It’s that kind of attitude that gets you into the league. It’s that kind of attitude that will keep you in the league.
12 games in the NHL – is it something you expected going into the season or you’ve achieved more than you expected?
I didn’t have a set number but I wanted a chance. I didn’t know when and how it was going to come. For me it came early on, which could be good and could be bad. Maybe if it was later in the season I would have been more comfortable with my game and maybe I would have put up some better numbers up there.
But at the same time players can’t be choosing. Basically, I think I’ve got what I expected in terms of getting a chance. I didn’t use all of it. I had some good games and I had some down games too but it’s all part of the process.
You played just 3 play-off games in the ECHL. It looks like you’re going to play much more in the AHL play-offs. What are your expectations going into the post-season?
I played quite a few play-off games in college too. I had some experience in the play-offs but not in professional hockey. It’s going to be the same approach – one game at a time. I won’t try to do too much. I’ll just try to give the guys a chance to win.
Obviously, everybody wants to make the NHL but how much fun are you having with these guys down here?
It’s a lot of fun to win. That’s the biggest thing. Obviously, you have a lot of fun up at the top level. It’s a different experience. I mean, you got charter jets, nice hotel rooms and stuff like that. We got a great group of guys in this room. It makes it really easier to come to the rink every day and easier to work hard. We’re collecting the dividends from our hard work now with a chance of being the first in our conference.
Two different teams, two different locker-rooms in two nights. Do you have any problems remembering names?
Not really. I mean, one thing about this organization is that there are so many players going up and down. It really is an organization of 50. It’s not 2 teams of 22. I can’t say enough about the guys up with the Leafs. They are really welcoming and they worked hard for me. Both teams are filled with really good guys.