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Rod Brind’Amour: ‘In this situation, everyone’s a rookie’

The Hurricanes’ head coach spoke with the media Wednesday about the team’s energy level, depth on defense, upcoming exhibition game and more.

NHL: JUL 14 Hurricanes Training Camp Photo by Jaylynn Nash/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Hurricanes ramped things up a bit in day three of their training camp at PNC Arena, running some two-on-two “game” drills at center ice and more battle-type drills.

Following practice, Rod Brind’Amour spoke with the media on his daily Zoom call to give an update on the team’s progress.

On if the energy was still where he wanted it: Guys are just having fun right now. It’s good to see. The energy’s been pretty good, and it’s only day three but I’ve certainly been happy with what I’ve seen.

On introducing physicality: We’ve had physical contact in these practices, it’s just certainly been not to the level that it’s going to get to. Every day you add a little more, ramping it up up today we had a little more tight-quarter kind of game. But it’s physical. We still have some time for that. There’s a progression here and we’re definitely on our way.

On the defense against the Rangers forwards: It’s certainly our strength. You can’t have enough good D, so I think we’re lucky in that regard. I think, like you mentioned, the Rangers have a very good offense.. You’re going to have to defend, there’s just no way around it. So We’ve got to do a better job with those guys. You mentioned two of the top, premier offensive players (Mika Zibanejad and Artemi Panarin). We’ll definitely be keying on them. Our defense is going to have to drive the boat. There’s no way around that.

On playing an exhibition game against Washington: I think normally if this was a regular season starting up, I don’t like playing preseason games at all. Why play six more when we’ve got 82 that count, I would rather start. But this is a little different scenario because we’ve had such a long time off. I think one game is perfect. I think as a player, even though you probably feel like you’re ready, one game to get the kinks out and get the pace is good. No matter how hard you go in practice, it’s never game like. So that’ll be exactly what all the players need. The opponent is kind of irrelevant, this is about getting yourself ready.

On young players gaining playoff experience: In a perfect world you would say that’s a big deal. In this situation, though, I really think everybody’s kind of a rookie to be quite honest with you. We just don’t know how it’s going to affect you, going out there and not having that emotion. To me, that’s what makes playoff hockey so great is the emotion. It’s the energy in the buildings. It wows you at times. That’s where experience can help you. If that’s not in the building, it’ll be interesting to see. I think that’s going to affect everyone a little differently. I don’t know how much experience is going to really matter in these playoffs, at least early.

On if the team will play simulated games with referees: We’re definitely going to get to that. We certainly can’t have a full-on scrimmage. We don’t have enough guys to have a full scrimmage, but we can do it for certain spurts in a practice. We’ll definitely get to that. Do we need to bring in refs and do all that? No, we’re not doing that. We don’t need to do that. We can have anyone drop a puck. Little things like that, we don’t need to create more issues. I don’t even know if you could do that with the way it is now. You have to bring people in and test them. We don’t need to add more stuff to the pile. We’ll keep it as tight as possible, but that is something that we’re definitely going to do, get to that more game-like stuff as we move along.

On getting guys into playoff-game shape: I think [two weeks] is more than enough. If you ask these guys, I’d guarantee you in about three days they’re going to be like ‘What are we doing? Let’s go.’ That’s what’s going to happen. They’re all in shape. These guys all take care of themselves. Some are in better shape because they can skate more and where they were living had way easier access to getting on the ice. But within a week, I feel like everybody feels like they want to get going. But I’m glad. As a coach, you want as much practice time as you can, just to go over everything and feel like you did your job. But the players all would probably want to get going.

On if there’s a sense of walking on eggshells with COVID dangers: That’s the reality. We’re trying not to worry about that stuff. That’s all stuff that you can’t control. It’s out of your control. You come in here and do your best, we’re wearing our masks, we’re doing our part. And then we’ll focus on, when we get in the building: your job. What is your job? That’s to come out here and do your best, try to get better. Those are things you can control. We’re hoping nothing remotely like that comes to play but those are things we’ll deal with when it happens.