Q&A with Josh Godfrey

By Holly Gunning

The Capitals drafted Josh Godfrey out of the OHL Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in the second round of the 2007 NHL entry draft.

Now in his rookie pro year, Godfrey is known for a powerful shot, but needs to build up the rest of his game around that, including defensive play and general work ethic. Another year or two in the minors is likely on the horizon for the newly-turned 21-year-old.

Godfrey spent the bulk of the season in Hershey, but was not always in the lineup, due to both injury and scratch. Now back with the South Carolina Stingrays, he has scored 10 points in 18 games, and six points in 13 games with Hershey. 

South Carolina Stingrays coach Jared Bednar said that Godfrey, like many young players, has been somewhat inconsistent in his play.

"Last week against Florida with a couple home games, he was just phenomenal, one of the best players on the ice in both games and then he came back on Tuesday and didn’t play so well," Bednar said.

Godfrey suffered a serious cut couple weeks ago by an opponent’s skate, and it’s still far from healed. Bednar said he thinks Godfrey is playing "a touch tentative because of that. I think it just scares him more than anything, he doesn’t want to bust it open. It can get in your head a little bit."

Hockey’s Future talked to Godfrey Saturday night as he got treatment on his ankle.

HF: With four defensemen tonight, did your coach tell you guys to conserve energy?

JG: You just kind of want to keep it simple. Unless you’re going to make it a 3-on-2 or 2-on-1, you don’t really want to jump up.

HF: Did you talk about that strategy ahead of time or is it something you just know to do?
JG: Well yeah, we should be getting the puck deep all the time. But more so now because we only had four guys back there. I think it plays into our style of game — chip it in and go get it.

HF: Was it kind of tough to see the blue lines tonight with the pink ice (for women’s cancer research)?

JG: Yeah, it was, on the faceoff circles and all that.  I think the refs had a lot of trouble with that on the offsides. But both teams had to deal with it, so there’s no excuse either way.

HF: How would you assess your personal season so far?
JG: I had a couple of injuries, but I’ve been doing what the coach asks me and doing what the organization think I should do, and just trying my best.

HF: Can you go over your injuries?  You were also ill, correct?
JG: I got sick up in Hershey and separated my AC joint in my shoulder twice (where the clavicle and collarbone meet). And I had this little accident with the skate (points to cut on ankle).  But it hasn’t hindered my play too much.

HF: With the AC joint injury, does your shoulder hang lower now?
JG: Yeah, it’s a a little lower than my other one.

HF: But it doesn’t hurt anymore?
JG: No.

HF: What were your instructions from Hershey when they sent you down?

JG: They had eight or nine defensemen up there so they just told me they wanted me to come somewhere that I could play and stay on the ice.  I was young so I didn’t need to be rushed into anything. The main thing is they wanted me to keep playing.

HF: They didn’t say they wanted you to work on ‘this thing’ in particular?

JG: Well, being a young player, a lot of young guys have to work on their defensive play. That’s a big part of defense, obviously, and that’s what I’m trying to work on down here most.

HF: Do you think you’ll be here the rest of the year then?

JG: We’ll see what happens. If Washington has injuries, you never know what can happen. Play were they want me to.

HF: A guy who you played with last year in Sault Ste. Marie, Michael Fine, is eligible for the draft this year. Can you tell me about him?
JG: Yeah, he’s a talented player. He was a young guy who came in last year, was a third or fourth line center for us. He can win draws, he can fight.  I’m kind of looking forward to the draft to see how high he goes because he’s a very good player. Flies under the radar a little bit.

HF: Why don’t you think he gets noticed?
JG: He’s not a guy to be flashy on the ice, he just makes simple plays. Sometimes players like that don’t catch your eye. But at the end of the night, he’s the guy who’s always going to get the puck deep and make smart plays.

HF: In the NHL, would he project as a checking line guy then?
JG: Yeah, third, fourth line center, and he can play wing.

HF: I noticed that for an offensive defenseman, you don’t have a lot of curve on your stick. Have you experimented with a curvier stick?
JG: I used to use almost a straight blade. But you kind of want to keep the puck down. I feel if I put too much curve on it, it’s going to go over the net all the time. I still have trouble with that sometimes, as straight as it is.

HF: But don’t you have more control over it if it’s curvier?

JG: Yeah, but if you’re rushed taking a shot or it’s a one-timer, you don’t really have time to get set for it and the puck’s going to go up with the curve of the stick. If you have a big fish hook on it, it’s going to go over the net.

HF: Do you think your accuracy has gotten better this year?

JG: Yeah, especially my last couple years in junior. I went from scoring four, five goals to 24 the next year, so I could always shoot the puck hard but I kind of worked on my accuracy in summer skating.

HF: Have you taken a little velocity off to get it more accurate?

JG: No, not necessarily. Maybe in the beginning, but once you get comfortable shooting from your normal spots on the ice, like on the power play shooting from the middle, you can put more and more velocity on the puck. 

HF: I noticed that you did something with your stick on the net at the start of periods, what’s that about?

JG: Just a superstition — post, crossbar, post. I don’t know, I’ve done it since my first year of junior.

HF: Have you ever forgotten to do it?

JG: If I forgot about it, I wouldn’t know about it (laughs). I’m sure if I forgot it wouldn’t be the end of the world. I have a couple other little things, but it’s nothing.