The Canes’ lone exhibition game before Saturday’s series opener had plenty to like, and plenty to not like in a 3-2 loss to the Capitals.
Rod Brind’Amour spoke to the media via Zoom after to offer his thoughts on the contest.
On what he liked and didn’t like: I didn’t like too much, to be honest with you. I felt like the third period was a little better. We started, I felt like, getting to more of what our game should like. I expected to be rusty. And we really saw that in the first two periods. So that concerns me a little, but I liked the fact that in the third it looked like we got our legs. I thought our goaltending was good. We had some breakdowns and our goalies made some big saves for us. It allows us to keep going, but overall, I think it’s just good to get the rust off and watch some good teaching clips for tomorrow and hopefully the rust is off but we move on.
On the goalies: I don’t think we’d made a decision, but nothing’s going to change. But I thought both guys were good. I think [James Reimer], coming in cold was really good. That’s a tough task when you haven’t had any shots. So he was good, I thought [Petr Mrazek] was good too. I’m happy with those guys for sure.
On the defense: I thought we were rough early, really poor defensively to be quite honestly. But I think we got better. We’ve got a lot of decisions to make now. All along, we knew this time would come with having to really put the best lineup possible out there. With a couple guys out, it makes it a little interesting as well. I’m not sure if they’re going to be back. But the good news is we put in a lot of this work, and then we’ll review this game. We’ve got two days to put the best lineup out there possible.
On Sami Vatanen, Brady Skjei and Vincent Trocheck: I thought [Vatanen] struggled early, but then I thought as the game got a little more competitive, and at the end especially, he was a little more noticeable. I thought Brady struggled early, too. Most of our guys did. I thought Trocheck had a good game early. He was the one guy that was standing out for me. But it’s been a long time off for our guys and we haven’t really had a lot of scrimmage time. I expected them to look like that early and I was happy with how we got going in the third. I think we’ll definitely springboard off that.
On what specifically got better as the game went on: I thought we had a little more zone time and a little more action at the net. We were on the outside the whole two periods, and then in the third it felt like we were a little more around the net and keeping it a little more simple which we have to do this time of year with not having a lot of games. So we were a little too cute tonight, and that happens when you have a layoff and a lot of summer hockey going on.
We weren’t quite as dialed in as we needed to be, but I thought we got a little better in the third. We had some power plays, which I think turned the momentum a little bit, but that game is what it is. We got through it without any major injuries. That’s a plus.
On what led to the defensive struggles: When I say defense, I meant the whole group defending. Everybody wasn’t doing a very good job of that. We gave up a couple chances when we had the puck. I think the first goal was one of those. If you look at it, I think it’s probably technically a penalty where, I don’t know who did it, but he slashes Brady’s hand when he was the puck, so I can’t really fault him on that. But we’ve got to get those pucks out. When it’s on our stick, we’ve got to make plays, we’ve got to get it out. We were just too cute for our first game back from a long layoff. We were trying to be cute, and that’s why we came up on the short end.