Perhaps no one knows the Hurricanes’ upcoming Stanley Cup Qualifier opponent better than Brady Skjei.
After playing three and a half seasons in New York, the young blue liner arrived in a trade with the Rangers at this year’s deadline. During a media Zoom call Thursday, Skjei addressed playing his former team and what training camp has been like so far.
On the key to beating the Rangers: I think sticking to the system we have in place right now. I remember when I was with the Rangers, this was never an easy team to play against. You’re in for a tough game, and they’d be all over us. So I don’t think the record exactly shows how the games went, but I think we have a good chance here going forward.
On if his girlfriend had to work in the hospitals in New York: Yeah, she was. She’s been working at NYU in the mother-baby unit. It’s been pretty wild. The first month and a half when the season got cancelled was pretty wild in New York. She’s healthy, and the hospitals did a good job of keeping the nurses safe. A ton of credit to her and all of her coworkers for what they were doing during this time.
On being comfortable as a “spy” playing his former team: I feel like these two teams have seen each other enough where everyone kind of knows each guy’s game. Obviously I probably know each guy’s game a little bit better than these guys. We’ll definitely give some inside scoops and try to give us the best chance to win.
On Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad: Both Mika and Bread Man are elite players. They have all the tools. They’ve got speed and skill, but I think the biggest thing is they’ve got great hockey IQ. You’ve just got to know where to be at the right time. I think our team matches up really well against them in that we’re big on pressure, big on not giving guys time and space and that’s exactly what you need to go against the top, elite players in the league. giving them as least time as possible. If you give them any time, they’re going to make plays and hurt you. So that’ll definitely be a thing we’re focused on. You’ve got to take their time and space away.
On having played for the Rangers: I think it’ll be a little different. I can tell you I’m really excited and I’m really looking forward to it. I think I’ve got a ton of motivation. I really enjoyed my time in New York and loved every part of it but now I’ve got a ton of motivation and a chip on my shoulder going into this playoff series, and do everything possible and everything I can to come out of this series victorious.
On where he was during the pause: I went back to New York. We have an apartment there that we bought last year. We just got that renovated, so I was quarantined in New York. I went back to Minnesota for about a month before coming back here and was skating there. We had a pretty good group of guys skating and working out there. So that was nice, but for the majority of it I was in the city in New York.
On the Hurricanes’ defense: The competition, you can tell, is very strong. We have eight very solid defensemen, all solidified NHL defensemen. At a time like this, I think depth is huge for any team at any position. Going into these playoffs not knowing what’s going to happen with injuries and with COVID in place, I think having as much depth as you can is good. We’re very comfortable with our D corps and we think any player can play any night and play a big role.
On playing his off side: I think it’ll be nice. Honestly, there’s pros and cons to playing both. I really enjoy playing the right side in the offensive zone. You’re able to walk the blue line and see everything in front of you, which is huge. But I definitely am probably a little more comfortable on the left side just from playing there for so many years. But I think it’s nice that I do have the ability to go back and forth from the right to the left. So it will be comfortable to be on the left, but I enjoy playing the right side as well.
On practicing with Sami Vatanen: It’s going well. We’re next to each other in the locker room, so I’ve been getting to know him sitting by him every day in the room. We talk on the ice, trying to get a good feel for each other’s game. I think we have a good feel for how each other play. We’re just trying to build that chemistry as much as we can as quick as we can. I think we’ve done a pretty good job of that so far.
On the golf competition on the team: It is [pretty fierce]. It’s very strong. I think I would take us against any other team in the NHL. There’s about 10 guys that can shoot around par. So it’s much when we go out there and play together. It’s tight and the weather here is nice and it allows us to get out on the course and relax, get our mind away from the rink. So that’s definitely a positive.