So say you're the Dallas Stars, coming off a dominating effort over the listless Washington Capitals and sitting in playoff position for the first time in a few weeks. How, exactly, would you spend the next day in preparation for playing the Carolina Hurricanes?
Why you play a little touch football, of course.
"We're at something called Raleigh Center Ice," Stars play-by-play man Ralph Strangis said when he appeared on the Norm Hitzges show Wednesday morning. "It's not as nice as Frisco, but it's so nice that the players... they were (outside) just playing touch football in their shorts and no shirts running around.
"I couldn't help but think this is exactly like recess for these kids. Everybody is smiling and laughing. This team is in a really good place right now."
Strangis was one of three members of the Stars contingent who were interviewed Wednesday along with Tyler Seguin and beat writer Mike Heika.
Seguin also talked with The Ticket's BaDD radio about much of the team taking advantage of the nice weather in North Carolina to stay loose off the ice.
"(It was an) optional practice today," Seguin said. "I'm not even sure how many guys skated. But the bulk of us played soccer and tossed around a football and a baseball and just got a little sweat, yeah.
"It's not too uncommon. Usually it's mainly soccer, but we've had a football around as of late.... Everyone just trying to stay loose instead of trying to ride a bike."
Bob also brought up Seguin's habit of using smelling salts for an extra little jolt before the start of each period, which has been captured on camera a few times recently (and also led to this hysterical video from his Bruins days). That led to a brief discussion of how he actively tries not to establish superstitions.
"It's weird," Seguin said. "If I'm scoring, I try to change up something a little the next game so that I can tell myself it's not anything I'm doing."
One of the things that was brought up repeatedly in the various interviews was if people around the team were confident the Stars were comfortably in a playoff position
"No," Heika said with a laugh when asked by the Puck Daddy podcast. "This is a problem with having been in Dallas for the past 6 years is that they never close the deal.
"Until they do it, I'm not sure any die hard Stars fan is going to believe they can do it. The other thing that's interesting about this team is boy they can put a streak together. Right now they're on a good streak, 5-1-0 in their last six, but they can just as quickly go the other way. They went through Winnipeg, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh and got beat in those games. They're just a real streaky team that's trying to find out who they are. Until they actually do it, I don't think that anyone in Dallas is confident that it's going to happen."
Strangis concurred on the streaky description.
"They're really good or you're scratching your head," he said. "And I guess that's a function of the team is just trying to figure out who they are, what they have. I guess what it would be is youth. When you're young, you're not really consistent... We're anything but consistent. We're extremely imaginative, and Lindy's been okay with that."
Here are a couple other highlights from the media barrage.
Strangis on what makes the Stars play well:
When they're getting goals from throughout the lineup and when their goaltender is on... They're getting (goaltending) now, and you have to have it. I think the difference with teams right now... We've seen that a goaltender will get a team into the playoffs, and we've had trouble. (Lehtonen is) a little more rested now because of the injury and the Olympic break than he has been in the past.
Heika on Alex Goligoski:
As Alex Goligoski goes, I think, so go the Dallas Stars. When I talk about them being streaky, that's what Alex is. He's a very skilled skater, he reads the game very well, but you stand next to him and he really is a small human... He just doesn't have the physical tools to play the game where he's stuck in his own end of the ice. If the Stars are either careless with the puck or can't get out of the cycle when the opposing team has the puck , then Goligoski gets roasted. But when it's an open game and they're possessing and skating the puck, then he's great.
Seguin on Valeri Nichushkin:
As any 18 year old, there's up and downs especially in your rookie year. He's putting in his work. He's learning so many things, from the culture to the actual language, but he's doing a good job.
Strangis on the standout player in the football game (when asked who could fill in at safety for the Cowboys:
Seguin is so quick. He broke on balls really quickly. His hands weren't great in terms of picking the ball off, but he was breaking up every pass that came his way... I don't know what his 40 is, but I bet it's really fast.
Heika on Lindy Ruff:
I like him a lot. I don't know what happened in Buffalo, but I think that near the end, he may have been worn out by the whole process. So you're getting a fresh Lindy Ruff here, a guy who is getting a chance to try some new things, to be a different type of person.