“It felt good to be out there, playing hard, playing in games that matter,” said forward Shawn Matthias.
Matthias had just come off of the ice Wednesday night after playing his first game with the Colorado Avalanche. On Sunday, he was acquired by the Avs from the Toronto Maple Leafs; quickly going from a team that was competing for the first overall pick in June’s draft, to a team competing for a playoff spot.
“It’s pretty crazy how it happened,” he said. “I’m so happy to be part of this organization. The guys are great. The coaching staff seems great. I’m just really happy and excited to be here.”
It did not take long for Matthias to endear himself to his new teammates, as he scored his first goal in burgundy and blue 13 minutes into the first period, tying the contest against the San Jose Sharks 1-1. Interestingly enough, Nick Spaling, whom the Sharks acquired from the Leafs this week and who was also making his debut for his new team, opened the scoring. It would take extra time to decide the game, but the Avalanche would prevail 4-3 in a shootout.
“It’s nice to get that goal, but winning … that’s the only thing I’m worried about right now,” said Matthias. “Helping the team win, whatever I can do. As long as we keep piling on those two points every night, I’ll be happy.”
“They helped me out a lot tonight,” he told Mile High Sports. “They kept talking to me, telling me where to go and stuff. I made a couple of mistakes system-wise, but they were right there helping me. That’s got to be tough on them too, not just worrying about their game but worrying about their linemate.”
It has been a tumultuous week for Matthias. After learning of the trade, he spent the next couple of days trying to work out some issues with his visa. After getting all of that cleared up, he hopped on a plane, arriving in Denver at 1 a.m. on Wednesday.
“Obviously it hasn’t been easy for him the last couple of days, with a lot of travel and lack of sleep, coming to altitude and things like that,” said Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog. “So I think he did a great job of just finding a way to grind it out.”
One of the big adjustments for Matthias was indeed the altitude, something that proved more difficult than he anticipated.
“I was struggling a little bit out there after a couple of shifts,” said Matthias. “I didn’t think it would be that tough. It takes some getting used to, but I’ve always prided myself on being in good shape, so it might be tough at first, but I’ll get the hang of it.”
Despite the lack of oxygen, Matthias still had an effective start to his Avalanche career (hopefully taking the first step to breaking the dreaded curse of the number 18). He showed what he is capable of bringing to the table, giving head coach Patrick Roy reason to be excited about the possibilities his addition may open up.
“The fact that we have a guy like Matthias in the lineup I mean, that gives us four good lines,” said Roy. “It allows me to play anybody against anybody.”