The Hurricanes will look to bounce back from a loss to Detroit Saturday when they open the first half of a back to back in Nashville against the Predators tonight.
Jordan Staal remains out due to his placement on the COVID protocol list, and James Reimer is expected to make his first start of the season in net. Rod Brind’Amour, Ryan Dzingel and Sebastian Aho spoke to the media following the team’s morning skate; here’s a full breakdown of everything they had to say:
On what needs to improve from the first two games: Our execution of the game plan. I think the effort’s been really good, it’s just that we were too cute in the second game. Game one, we were a little rusty, so that I can live with. Game two, I thought we were trying to be too cute. We were just trying to do things that we normally don’t do and kind of getting away from the game plan. We’ve got to stick to what we do best, and that gives us the best chance to win.
On more injuries than normal and needing more days off: You have to. We’ve got a lot of nicked up guys now after two games. The games are coming fast and furious all year. Like I said earlier, you just don’t have that week off or three-day breaks in between games. So you really have to monitor the downtime. So we want to be ready to go for games and give 100%, and then you have to just monitor the rest. Practices are probably going to be few and far between, because you’ve got to rest on those off days.
On keeping things simple: We’ve got some creative players. Sometimes they think that instead of getting to the game first, [they can make plays first] and then we get to our game. I get it; it happens. But to be successful, I think we all know that as a group, we have to play our game and let the plays happen from there. That’s the only way we’re going to be successful.
On Jordan Martinook’s versatility: You’d love to have all your players be versatile, especially this year. We’re going to have guys go down and we’re going to have guys probably play positions that maybe they’re not used to. I know he’s probably more comfortable playing the wing, I know he’s very effective as a winger because of the way he plays, but with the way we’re built right now, we’re using him up the middle. So it’s nice that we know we can count on him to do that as well.
On needed improvements: There’s a lot of stuff. I think we were pretty sloppy. Obviously that’s going to happen in the first games back without any preseason games. But we just have to get to our game and keep it a little bit more simple. I think it’s all it is, just playing our game a little bit more simple, getting the pucks to the point and letting them rip. Just playing our game. It’s just simple, simple, simple.
On two-game sets against the same teams: It kind of brings you back to the college days, playing Friday and Saturday night against the same team. You really want to get out to a good start in the first game, and I think we did that against Detroit. You know they’re coming in the second game. Their backs are against the wall after they’ve lost one. It’s definitely a little bit tougher but you’ve just got to be more prepared and understand that’s going to happen.
On rust early on: I guess a little bit, I think we had a good camp and the coaching staff gets us prepared. I think after those two games, we should have knocked the rust off, so that excuse is out of the way now. … So I think that rust is gone and we won’t have that excuse any more.
On Nashville: They obviously have a really good lineup. All four lines and all six D are pretty good, and then they’ve got some toughness on the back end, too. So they’re a well-rounded team. I think we’re going to have to play our system to a tee and give everything we have to get the W tonight. It’s going to be a tough one.
On his and the team’s play in the first two games: Probably not the best. I mean, it usually takes a couple games to get the legs going and get a feel for the puck, just get your mind right. You try to slow it down in your head. I think the first game was actually OK, it was a hard-fought game, the effort was there. We just battled through the game and got the great win. The second game wasn’t our best. Everyone tried super hard. We worked really hard as a team, but then again, we made some mistakes and the way we played wasn’t right. So it’s definitely bounce-back time today.
On something he wants to improve: I guess just the overall game. Get our line going, work better with [Nino Niederreiter] and [Teuvo Teravainen]. Get the pucks deep, get our game going, forecheck hard. I know it’s a cliche, but that’s our game and we have to get that better.
On this year’s schedule: I don’t mind it. It’s definitely different, but given the circumstances, I’m just happy that we can play.
On the Central Division: I think that’s a good thing for us. You play the same teams a lot of times in a normal year too, but especially this year you play even more. So I think it was a good thing for us to be in the Central.
On Nashville: They’re a great team. They’re a really, really deep team. They’ve got some elite Dmen back there, two great goalies, a lot of skill up front too. So I feel like that’s just an overall great team and we have to be ready from the start.