Q&A with Justin Eddy

By Holly Gunning

Justin Eddy was signed as a free agent in 2004 by the Washington Capitals out of Quinnipiac College, where he played for four years.

The 24-year-old started this season with AHL affiliate Portland Pirates where he backed up fellow Caps prospect Maxime Ouellet. Eddy had a 2-5-1 record, 3.65 goals against average and a .863 save percentage for the struggling Pirates before being reassigned to the ECHL South Carolina Stingrays. Eddy has now played 11 games with the Stingrays as well, posting a 5-3-3 record, a 2.99 goals against average and a .923 save percentage.

After Eddy was sent to South Carolina, Ouellet went down with a high ankle sprain. Maxime Daigneault was called up to Portland to join Kirk Daubenspeck, meaning that Eddy has lately been flying solo in South Carolina, with only an emergency back-up behind him.

Hockey’s Future spoke to Eddy after a tough 6-2 loss to the Gwinnett Gladiators on Sunday.

HF: Talk about your season so far, both here and in Portland. How do you think you’ve done?

JE: Well, it was definitely a thrill to make Portland’s roster at the beginning of the year. I felt that I had a pretty strong training camp and I beat out some really good goalies, who have a lot more experience than I do. After that, we struggled up in Portland to get wins. At the beginning, we were inconsistent and I can’t say that I was terribly happy with my overall performance up there. I had a couple of good games and a couple bad ones, some in between, but up there you have to play awesome pretty much every night you go out there or else someone is going to be taking your job. There was a stretch there where I didn’t play for almost a month and then I think it was the best thing for me to go down here and get some playing time. So far down here it’s been awesome, great guys on the team, great coaches. I think I’ve played seven games [in 10 days], that’s a lot more than I played in Portland.

HF: You’re getting a ton of work, tonight was 47 shots, are you getting tired at all?

JE: Yeah, it was tough this week because we played Monday, Tuesday, and then Thursday, Friday, Saturday. And then as you know Maxime Daigneault is recalled to Portland. It’s tough to find replacement goalies down here, so I’m pretty much the only guy going. I’m not going to lie to you, I was pretty gassed at the end of the game today, but overall on the weekend it wasn’t that bad. It was a good experience for me to get so many games at one time.

HF: I know that you split time a lot back in college and then up in Portland. This is kind of the first time you’ve had to take all the games yourself. What is that like mentally?

JE: It’s good. It’s a lot harder to play when you don’t know when you’re going to get to go in. It’s a lot easier to just know you’re going to go in. Plus, if you do make mistakes or you have a bad game, it’s easier to forget about it because you know you’re going to play the next night and you can get another chance at it.

HF: Is this league what you expected as far as level of play?

JE: Yeah, I definitely think it’s a good league, I mean I knew coming down here that I was going to have to play really well to do well down here because every team’s got at least one unbelievable goalie. The same with players. We played Charlotte last night and when they opened up the game they looked like the Hartford Wolfpack out there I thought. I’ve been pretty impressed with the level of play down here.

HF: How did you think your transition to pro hockey went generally, did you have to change much in your game?

JE: Yeah, I did change a little bit. In college last year it was a lot more run and gun, there’s a lot of defensive breakdowns. You have to be a little bit more patient. I think I’ve really adjusted a lot during training camp. I had Dave Prior (Capitals goaltending coach) working with me quite a bit. He was really good about getting on me for mistakes I was making. I think I learned a lot from that process.

HF: Was it really tough on you during Portland’s struggles?

JE: I think for everyone in Portland it was a bit of a shock because we started the preseason like 5-1, it looked like it was going to be a positive start to the season for us. For whatever reason, it didn’t turn out that way. It was tough, because when you lose a lot of games, it can carry over to the lockerroom and carry over to into the next game, and the next game, and before you know it, you’re just scraping to get by, to get wins.

HF: It was probably a mental relief then to come here to a winning team.

JE: Yeah, when I came here, these guys had just gotten off a 10-game winning streak, and it is refreshing to go from a team where you have to be pretty much perfect on every single play, every single game, to a team where if you make a mistake, you know that the guys are going to be there to score four or five goals.

HF: You were working with Ouellet up there, how was it working with him as a partner?

JE: It was good. I had seen him on TV before, he’s a pretty high profile prospect and an unbelievable goalie. Things haven’t gone his way necessarily this year. I really think he’s maybe been faulted a little too much for the losses up there, but I think he’s going to be very good down the road in the NHL. He was a good partner, I learned a lot just from watching him in practice.

HF: Can you give an example of something you learned from him?

JE: Just the way his technique is, he’s pretty much flawless around the net with his movements. When you’re looking through screens and you go down, you have to get up right away. Getting up on the right leg, that’s all technical goalie stuff. He does it very well.

HF: You were at Washington’s prospect camp this summer, how did that go and what did you take away from it?

JE: It was an awesome time, it was pretty much my first look at what pro hockey is like, the guys, how they train. It was at the Capitals practice facility. See how those guys work out and got to meet the personnel. I had a great time. I think it was eight days. It was really fun.

HF: Did Prior work with you at the camp as well?

JE: Yeah, he had really only seen me play one time before that, so that week he really got to look at my game and tweak things, see if I could change stuff.

HF: What did he tell you that you need to work on, and do you agree with that?

JE: Before becoming a pro, I struggled with as Dave called it, having a strategy of playing, a game strategy. That’s something I’ve tried to work on, always knowing to stay out, being patient around the net, not committing too early, things like that.

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