With just five days until the Hurricanes depart Raleigh for the NHL postseason bubble in Toronto, practice continues to ramp up in terms of intensity and physicality.
Head coach Rod Brind’Amour spoke with the media via Zoom Tuesday about preparations for bubble life and the focus in practice as the team gets ready to face the New York Rangers on Aug. 1.
On being in the bubble messing up game-day routines and noon games: I think it’s more just the uncertainty. You don’t really know how it all works until we get in there. There’s less things to worry about when you have a noon game. There’s less time. There’s obviously no morning skate. That issue, that whole time frame is out. There’s less things to worry about, get up, go to the rink, go play. So that’s it, I would like them all to be that way.
On the absence of a morning skate for noon games: Those are overrated, big time. What they do when you have a 7 or 8 o’clock game and you’re on the road, it breaks your day up instead of sitting in the hotel all day. And during the season, especially, you use them for actual practice, going over things that maybe you didn’t practice the day before. But I don’t think they’re needed at this point.
On the NHL only having two positive COVID tests: Number one, that’s good for sure. I think watching other sports and even the colleges, but it feels like now that they’re together in some of the places, it seems like you can keep kids safer just being together and not being at home and being around a whole bunch of other people. So I guess that’s the whole concept behind this. Until we can get to the bubble part, that’s kind of the idea behind it. So we’re still keeping our fingers crossed. Obviously we need to get through this week, and then it looks like it’s promising anyway.
On what would happen if the team would lose both goalies in one game: I’m assuming we’ve got our other goalies there. I honestly don’t know if we’re allowed, I’m assuming we’re allowed to bring the other guys right to the game. I’ve talked to the trainers and they have all the equipment there for all four goalies. If you’re referring to if there’s an emergency backup situation, I don’t think that happens, I think you’re allowed to dress your guy and bring him in from the stands. I could be wrong. At some point, I’ll get clarification on that.
On if carrying extra guys makes it tough to run practices: No, because we’ve split them. We basically have our group and that’s it, and then we have the extra guys skating on their own. And then we’ll mix them in. We may do it tomorrow just so we can scrimmage a little harder, because the downside to it is you can’t really scrimmage that much because you don’t have any rest and you want to keep the pace high. So we may blend the groups a little bit more this week just to get more scrimmage game-like scenarios going.
On line combinations: We zeroed in before we started. We had an idea and now we’re moving things around a little bit still but I think we have a pretty good for how we’re going to shake this out. But there’s still a few days here before we’ve really got to crunch it down. The most important part now, still, to me, is just getting our guys to their game and pushing that right to the end, as we introduce the Rangers stuff now and focus in on them. But we’ve still got to get everyone’s individual games where they need to be. As far as lineups and this and that, we’ve got a bunch of different scenarios. We’re, I’d say, about 90% sure how it’s going to look, but there’s still a little wiggle room in there.
On entertainment in the hub: That is the best question ever. If you have any suggestions let me know. That, to me, is a really big concern. We don’t want guys to get cabin fever if you’re stuck in your room, and you can’t be in other guys’ rooms. I think our guys may have a little area for all the players to hang out. The coaches may have one of those. We’ll be working a lot, doing a lot of video on all these games that are going to be going on. I think it’s all different times of the day. I’m pretty sure we’ll be busy just watching games and just dive right into that.
If you have a few minutes, I’m sure we’ll punch in a Netflix something. I need a new show, so maybe I’ll get a suggestion by then. If you guys have one, throw one at me.
On if the champion would have an asterisk or if it’s tougher than normal: To go through this type of playoff, I said this earlier, whoever wins this is going to earn it. There’s no way around it. It’s not four, five wins and you get a championship. You’ve got to grind this out. And then, on top of that, for me, it’s that fact that the sacrifice and those added elements about being stuck in a hotel. They say they can bring families later on, but that remains to be seen. Who knows how that would work. There’s just a lot that’s going on, not just from the players, but from management to the support staff, to pull this off. So when you talk about a team victory or earning a Stanley Cup, that’s what it’s going to take to pull this off.
On getting back in the playoff mindset: I think it’s pretty easy, because this is the time of year when everyone’s just excited to play. Nobody likes training camps, and the regular season’s long and a grind. It’s groundhog day a lot. But the playoffs are exciting. The light’s at the end of the tunnel. So to start in that mode, I think, is going to be really exciting for everybody. So I think it’s going to be a lot easier to get everybody into it than coming off a normal training camp.