Head coach Rod Brind’Amour spoke to the media via Zoom Monday afternoon to discuss his team’s 4-1 win in game two.
On when he knew Andrei Svechnikov would be special: Probably the first time I met him. I think everyone has that same opinion of him when you meet him. He’s genuine. He’s a great person. I hadn’t even seen him play other than on video. Then I met him and I knew he was going to be special. He’s a special kid, and we’re really, really fortunate to have him.
On everyone contributing: I don’t think we were as good this game, certainly not early on, not quite as dialed in. I thought the Rangers were on us and they were playing their game. But I thought as the game moved on, we got more involved and everyone was contributing at that point. Obviously, you’ve got to give Petr a lot of credit. He made some real big saves to just allow us to get into the game. He was huge for us tonight.
On the morning routine for noon starts: What we try to do with the 12 o’clock games is knock everything out the day before. So we pretty much get everything we need done there and the meetings with players, and let them just play the game if it’s 12 o’clock. Now we’ll go back, get to work and watch it, cut it out. We’ve got another game tomorrow. So the game’s come fast and furious, but obviously I think everyone is in the same boat with this and guys love to play.
On intensity level: I think the biggest concern I had coming into this was how was it going to play out without the emotion of the crowd. I think NHL hockey is the best live sport out there, and it’s because of the fans. But I said this the other day. I think you’ve got to give the players a lot of credit. They’re as competitive as ever. Like I said, whether it was in front of 20,000 or nobody, when the puck gets dropped, these guys come to play. Both teams were very, very intense and emotional. Forget the crowd’s not around, to be honest with you. So you’ve got to give the guys a lot of credit for that. They’re playing for real.
On Sebastian Aho: I don’t think I’ve seen anything different than what I saw this year. He’s definitely matured as a hockey player. I think he’s understanding what he has to do four our team to be successful. We’re fortunate to have guys that put the team first. He’s definitely doing that. He’s playing a team game, and obviously he’s got all the talent in the world. You can see that with some of those plays that he makes. His maturity as a hockey player is certainly coming to the forefront.
On Svechnikov’s performance in camp: I don’t think you’d be surprised if someone said before the game that someone’s going to get a hat trick, you’d definitely have to throw his name in there. He’s just got a lot of talent. I think it’s his first hat trick, but I think he’ll get a few more before his time’s over in his career. He’s a gamer, too. He’s one of those guys in this break who worked on his game. He wanted to get better. I think you’re seeing that.
On Petr Mrazek and the defense: Our defense is obviously a big part of limiting scoring chances. I don’t think we were as good tonight. We gave up a lot more Grade-A opportunities early and at the end too. But our D have been solid. Dean Chynoweth’s done a great job with our D corps. Obviously when we have our breakdowns, we’re playing a really high-end team with some serious firepower. We’re going to have some chances against. It’s just the game of hockey. Petr was great tonight. He gave up a goal but there was nothing he could do he could do on that. When we did break down, and we had a bunch of them, he was there. That’s a winning recipe, that’s for sure.
On the first period penalties: We preach that all the time. Every coach is saying the same thing. You don’t want to take unnecessary penalties. You want to get to your game. I think we have a pretty good, deep team that we need to get the flow. When you’re taking a lot of penalties, obviously you’re putting yourself in a stressful situation. We don’t want that, and taking guys out of the game. I thought we settled down. Our first period wasn’t great, but I think we were fortunate to get out of there tied. It wasn’t a great game for us, but we’ll take it, that’s for sure.