The Carolina Hurricanes were the first team to advance past the Qualifying Round as they swept the New York Rangers in three straight games. Now, the team awaits the conclusion of the East Round-Robin to find out who they will be matched up against next.
Head coach Rod Brind’Amour, however, isn’t worrying too much on who that opponent could be. For him, the focus remains mainly on his own team.
The Hurricanes’ coach spoke with media Friday morning over Zoom.
On using both goalies moving forward: I don’t really have a plan for the next round if I’m being honest. I don’t know the schedule. I don’t know when we’re starting or who we’re playing. Right now, the plan is to get through this week and try to stay sharp. Do I anticipate both guys playing? Yeah, I do. Especially with having those back-to-backs and that kind of schedule which I’m sure it will be.
On trying to cycle in more of the roster: Possibly. We didn’t really approach it any differently whether it was a five-game or seven-game series. It was just always about that next game. Doing whatever you can to win that game. Game 1 or 2 or 7, it’s about winning that game. We know we’re going to need everybody, so at some point whether through injuries or performance, we’ll get those guys in for sure, but I can’t say right now I have a plan for when that’ll be.
On Dougie Hamilton: It’s a good sign to see him out there [at practice]. I’m not sure 100% when he’ll be ready. It’s on him kind of. We’re just gauging it off of how he feels. You hope that four to five days from now he’ll be that much better. We’re still day-to-day with him and we probably will be up to that first game, but him being out there yesterday and today is a good sign for us.
On scouting opponents at games: There isn’t much else to do, so the games have been good to go over to, especially the four o’clock games. After our practice, we kind of head over. We got a good routine going there. We do certainly know a couple of opponents very, very well. The scouting is going on, but we’re not dialed in yet because we don’t know who we’re playing. As we get closer here and some more clarity comes in, we’ll obviously pick that side of things up. Right now, it’s just watching games, learning a little bit, but it’s more just enjoying hockey to be honest with you.
On having two goalies that you can start either of, similar to when he played in 2002 and 2006: I probably do rely on that more than I think. As a player you probably didn’t care. I know we talk about the goalies all the time, but players trust both guys. They’re not worried about who’s in net. They worry about their own game. I know it’s the first question you get asked all the time, but players don’t care. They know they got two guys they can trust and the coaches feel the same way. So it’s actually the easiest decision as far as we don’t think about it too much. We feel we’re right about it whichever way we go. That’s how we feel about it. It’s almost like saying who the goalie is on the other end. As a player you didn’t care. You couldn’t tell me I was going to shoot a puck somewhere different cause this goalie is in versus that goalie. It doesn’t matter. That was the last thing I was worried about. I trust that we have two good options and that’s it. It’s that simple.
On moving to a 24-team playoff structure moving forward: No. No. It’s… No. I don’t know how else I can say it. I think what makes the Stanley Cup special, for me and players who’ve made it, is that the hardest part of winning it, is getting to the Cup. Getting to the playoffs. The 82 games and all that lead up is to get you the right to play for the Stanley Cup and so, for me, you can’t add more teams. That takes away from the 82 games we’re playing. I understand this year was unique and we can leave it at that, but there’s no way I would increase it. That diminishes the 82 games that we play.
On if there is any different approach to preparing with having a good idea who their next opponent could be: I don’t know if it makes a difference. You know your opponent. Whether it’s Washington or Boston, it’s pretty clear we know these are two of the best teams in the league. We know we’re up against it and I still think it’s about making sure our game is sharp and we still have a lot to work on to make sure we’re the best version of ourselves before we worry about who we get. We know we’re getting a grade-A team, if not one of the best teams in the league, in my opinion, so it’s going to be a tough matchup no matter who we get.