Adam Raska knows his role every time he takes to the ice. He knows that he is what fans would call a pest. Barracuda play-by-play broadcaster Nick Nollenberger has referred to Raska’s style of play as “all gas, no break,” and there is no doubt about that being an accurate description.
“If I bring energy to every game, it’s chaos,” the San Jose Sharks prospect said. “If you hit somebody or drive the goalie, all these other guys get mad and you get under their skin. We can use that and score. That’s just work for third or fourth line.”
If Raska can draw the attention of opposing players, he helps clear opportunities for his teammates, but of course, the team benefits even more when he can get onto the scoresheet himself. That will come more over time, but Barracuda head coach Roy Sommer likes what he has seen from Raska so far.
“He’s been good. You always know what you’re gonna get when he goes over the boards. Real hard worker. Hard on pucks. Finishes his hits,” Sommer noted. “We like to see him now starting to score some more points. He’s been real good for us. He’s one of those guys that when he’s out of the lineup, we really miss him.”
Whenever a head coach says they miss a player when they are out, you know they’re doing something right. That’s especially impressive for Raska to get that compliment in his rookie AHL season
While the winger’s style of play has always been part of his game, it made the transition from Czechia to North American hockey a little more exciting.
“I was preparing myself to play in the AHL and NHL in the two years in the Quebec League where the rink is kind of the same. It’s smaller and the hockey is faster and everything. On the other side, Czech hockey is on a bigger rink so there has to be more patience, and to make plays, you have more time,” he said.
“With my style of playing, I like to play on the smaller rink because there’s a lot of contact and I’m the guy playing on third and fourth lines.”
His preparation in juniors seems to be paying off as it gave him a bit of a head start on his transition to the AHL. Raska more than once mentioned being a third or fourth-line guy; however, in each of the three games since his return from injury, he’s played as one of the team’s top-six forwards.
“I think the biggest thing is just getting used to the American Hockey League,” Sommer said of what the coaching staff is looking for out of Raska. “He’s starting to play a lot of minutes. I’d like to see him make some more plays. Hang on to some pucks down low, but he seems to be getting the hang of that.”
Raska had a quick answer when asked which NHL player he feels plays a similar game to his own: “I kind of play like Brendan Gallagher.”
His favorite elements of Gallagher’s game can be seen reflected in how the Czech forward plays every night.
“He works hard. He’s also in front of the net, and he gets into some things,” Raska pointed out. “He’s always doing something that nobody else does, so he makes it special.”
When asked about the Gallagher comparison, Sommer says he does agree with it, but with one caveat.
“You know I’d like to see him score as much as Brendan Gallagher,” laughed Sommer, “but he gets under your skin. He draws penalties. We’ve got him killing penalties now. There was a time there before he got hurt, he was almost a point a game there for a couple weeks.”
In terms of getting an opponent worked up, Raska says the most he’s gotten to someone happened when he first joined Oceanic Rimouski in the QMJHL in 2019.
“It was, I think, my second or third game in the Q. I hit a guy in the corner when I went back for my backcheck in our zone,” he recalled. “There was a defenseman [Alexandre Joncas] behind, and he was slashing me. It was my first fight in the Q and in my whole career.”
Raska has since taken part in three other fights, per Hockey Fights. One at the Rookie Faceoff last September, one in the NHL, and one in the AHL.
On the flip side, the most angry that he’s ever got on the ice was more recent, just over a month ago, and it resulted in the one AHL fight he’s had this season.
“One of the players [Jack Dugan], when we were playing the [Henderson] Silver Knights, slashed our goalie in the head, and the referee didn’t call anything, so I just jumped him. Just trying to protect my goalie,” Raska relayed. “It’s stupid. You can kind of drive the goalie, drive the middle, drive the net, or whatever being productive, but you cannot swipe the goalie.”
It can’t be stressed enough that you could hear the frustration in his voice just thinking about the play.
“That’s the first defensive rule. Don’t touch my goalie.”
Everyone, listen to Adam Raska and don’t touch his goalie.
DID HE REALLY SLEEP THROUGH HIS DRAFT?
Adam Raska has a unique story from his draft day because he didn’t know he was drafted until a few hours after his name popped up on screens around the world. According to an interview with the QMJHL following the draft, Raska was asleep when the San Jose Sharks announced his selection in the seventh round.
“It’s true,” Raska laughed when the subject came up. “It’s because, in our country, I watched the first round because one of my Czech buddies should have been drafted in the first round, and he wasn’t, but I was up until 5 AM, all night. The next day, I fell asleep at like 1:30 AM and was drafted at 2:15 maybe in our time, so I just woke up in the morning a Shark.”
He woke up to many messages and calls congratulating him. Most of the messages were from his agents and family, but he says the whole thing was pretty funny.
With his selection to the Sharks, there were many guys Raska was looking forward to having the opportunity to share the ice with: “Of course, the two guys from Czech, Radim Simek and Tommy Hertl, and there’s a lot of stars on the Sharks like Brent Burns and Timo [Meier] and Cooch [Logan Couture].”
FIRST GO WITH SAN JOSE SHARKS
Raska spent most of January on the San Jose Sharks roster, appearing in five games for the big club, and had the chance to play alongside each one of the players he mentioned. One helped him in particular before his NHL debut.
“Tommy Hertl helped me a lot with my first NHL game because I was so nervous, I was literally shaking,” Raska remembered. “It was kind of weird that I didn’t know what to do, and he was just calming me down. So that was good that he was trying to help.”
Looking back, if he could give himself advice heading into his first stint in the NHL, Raska has just one thing: “Don’t be nervous! It’s just another game. It looks like a big deal, but after the first shift, it’s just another game.”
The NHL player he was most intimidated to play against also happened to be opposite him in just his third NHL game.
“Sid the Kid. Sidney Crosby. He also played for Rimouski, so I met him a few years ago,” he said. “They had the ceremony and put his jersey up there, and it was really cool. Now I played against him in the NHL, so that was amazing.”
Playing against Crosby so early in his professional career was a big moment for him, but one week later, he was in a game against Steven Stamkos, another player Raska had been nervous about facing: “It was pretty shocking. These guys, you just watch them all your life when you are young, thinking of plans like one day, I want to play against him, and the day came. I can’t believe it. So awesome.
“It motivates me more than anything else. Playing with the big boys makes you want to stay there. It’s the best league in the world, and I just want to play there. I can’t wait to make another game up there.”
Sommer talked about how Raska can make the call permanent when it does come again: “I think the biggest thing for him is consistent details in his game, getting pucks in and out on the boards, and just keep making plays.”
THE FUN STUFF
You wanted to know about Adam Raska’s music, so let’s talk about Adam Raska’s music.
First of all, he can’t name a teammate he feels should be locker room DJ because none of them share his tastes: “It’s hard because almost all the guys like rap and hip hop, and that’s not my style, so I really don’t know. If there’s someone who it could be? No, I don’t know. I’ve got a different style.”
But you are here for what Raska listens to, which he does know that Hamaliuk named him as having the worst music and says they talked about it. Keep reading because that’s not the only disagreement they have.
“In Europe, we have a lot of EDM music that’s awesome. I like it and a lot of music from Czech, USA, or Canada. I know a few country songs. The only thing I don’t like is the new rap. Like, guys with the chains and everything. I just don’t like it,” he said. “I mean, the old Eminem or 50 Cent, okay, why not? But the new rap’s just not good.”
San Jose Hockey Now did get a “top-three songs” from Raska, pulled from his own playlists:
You can make your own decisions on the 20-year-old’s musical tastes. Though, Bon Jovi’s Livin’ on a Prayer is a jam no matter what.
Build a Pizza
“Perfect Pizza? That’s easy! Just a little bit of tomato sauce with a lot of cheese. A lot of cheese, all kinds, like mozzarella, parmesan, and gouda.”
No veggies or meats?
“No, I hate veggies, and pineapple doesn’t belong on pizza.”
There’s the other disagreement with Hamaliuk, who said pineapple would be on his perfect slice.
“Yeah, well, he’s also wrong. I don’t know what’s the matter with the guy.”
“I’m building a puzzle. I do two or three puzzles every season. I finished my puzzle a few days ago, and it was missing two pieces. That was a big one, 1000 pieces or something.”
The puzzle is of the Grand Canyon with astrological signs in the sky. Hopefully, those final two pieces turn up someday.
Clearing His Head
“I like to walk in nature and clear my head. Not hiking, but just walking in nature. I loved the nature in Canada. It was awesome. I had a great billet, and they lived in a really good spot so I could walk in nature all the time.”
Somebody find Raska a nice place out in the Bay to walk. Just make sure it’s not a hike!
To the Fans
Last Wednesday’s game at Sharks Ice may have had a limited crowd, but the team felt their presence.
“You could hear everything. [The fans] were screaming all game, and I think they were a huge reason why we won the last game in the small rink,” Raska recognized. “If we don’t have fans like that, we would never win that game. That’s my opinion.”
Raska presented an idea on how to get the energy up during games at SAP Center so they feel a bit more like the game at Sharks Ice felt last Wednesday: “They’re awesome, but in a big rink like SAP, you can’t hear them because it’s too big. Maybe they could sit together. If they’re close together, you can hear them more, and it looks like there is more at the rink. I guess it’s hard to get more people in the rink when you are last in the standings, but, well, we’re trying. We’re trying.”
Throughout three games from Mar. 2-6, the Barracuda had a 2-0-1 record, 17-28-2 overall.
Starting March with the game at Sharks Ice on the 2nd, the Barracuda claimed a 5-3 victory against the Bakersfield Condors. Nick Cicek scored in his return after missing 14-games with a broken jaw. Nick Merkley and Artemi Kniazev also lit the lamp, with John Leonard and Joachim Blichfeld adding power play goals.
Saturday night, Mar. 5, saw the Barracuda drop a hard-fought tilt 4-3 to the Stockton Heat on the road in OT. Sasha Chmelevski, Dillon Hamaliuk, and John Leonard all found the back of the net in the loss.
Back at SAP Center less than 24 hours later, on Mar 6. the Barracuda had one of their best outings of the season as they defeated the Tucson Roadrunners 6-2. It was an exciting night with both Pucks and Paws and Hockey is for Everyone taking place — plus the fans were treated to an incredible game. Power play goals from Lane Pederson and Blichfeld, along with a tally from Merkley and a hat trick from Leonard, sent Barracuda fans home feeling better than they had all season.
Congrats to John Leonard for winning AHL Player of the Week!
Through his first 14 AHL games this year, he had just 2 goals, 1 assist & 1.9 shots per game. In his last 28, he has 14 goals, 11 assists & 3.8 shots per game.
Wrote about this in January: https://t.co/6LYdFJPhI6
— Sheng Peng (@Sheng_Peng) March 7, 2022
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