Head coach Rod Brind’Amour as well as Sebastian Aho and Vincent Trocheck spoke to the media via Zoom after practice.
On Jordan Staal being in the Selke conversation: Definitely. It should go to a guy that puts up points, because it’s for a two-way player. You got to do both. He’s always had the opportunities, I just think now they’re cashing in, but I don’t think he’s really changed anything about his game. But he definitely needs to be in that conversation.
On the NHL’s new COVID-19 protocols: We’ve just got to figure it out. Normally, for meetings, you would have some sort of gathering and spread out guys, but now we just have to figure out a different way to do it. The locker rooms, when we get home, we have to revamp that whole thing. It’s just ongoing, but it’s not unexpected. We knew there was going to be curveballs every day and that’s kind of how it goes.
On the lead time for rapid testing to know player availability: Well, that’s a good question. I don’t know. No idea. It just goes day to day. I get told, go here for a test, go there for a test and go to the rink and try to do your job. That’s basically how it goes. Then you get up the next day and hope you get good news and you keep going. That’s how we’re doing it.
On Vincent Trocheck helping take the pressure off the other centers: When those three are playing well, it takes stress off of each other. When one is struggling or one is not doing as good in certain areas, then the others can pick the slack up. But it’s definitely a bonus when you can have those guys going down the middle, because you don’t have to worry as much about matchups. There’s just a whole bunch of things that when they’re going well it sets us up to be a really good team.
On expectations for Petr Mrazek’s return being tempered: He’s got the injury to his hand, so it doesn’t affect his skating or getting out there and moving. That’s an injury that’s going to take some time for him to be able to do what he does at 100%. We’re trying to just do all we can with the limitations that he’s been given.
On the team’s ability to comeback from lulls: We have good players, number one. Good, veteran players that get it and that you can rely on to get the train back on the tracks. The group also understands how we have to play. It’s not easy, so when it gets a little sideways it can look the way it did. I think we’re able to get right back on track and put a game together though. It’s just understanding of what’s expected from the group and how we have to play. That’s what you see when we bounce back.
On Martin Necas’ status: Tomorrow we’ll find out. He had a good practice today, but there’s still a little hurdle he has to clear, but we’re hopeful.
On the center depth: All four of us have been pretty solid this year. It’s great to see [Staal] and [Trocheck] taking big minutes, killing penalties and being good on the power play. It’s always nice to see those guys going.
On dropping the second game in the road series: Those second games haven’t been our best games. I felt like all three of those [losses] haven’t seen our best. We just have to get our game going right away. The team that loses the first game has a little extra motivation to win, so we have to be ready for that tomorrow. They’ll have a big push, but I’m sure we’ll be ready.
On Foegele taking his goal with the empty-netter: I don’t even know. I didn’t see it, but I’ll take the apple. We had a good win, and it was a nice goal by him.
On dropping the second game in the road series: The road has been a little bit different now then it was. You can’t really leave the hotel and you’re kind of locked in your room. Earlier in the season, we had a couple of days off between the games and, sitting in the hotel, it’s tough on your legs when you’re just laying around for the whole day. I feel like that played into [those losses], not that we can use that as an excuse. But now we’re going and skating on the days between games and I think that helps.
On the center depth: Depth is what wins championships. Right now, the way that we’re going and getting contributions from all four lines, it’s definitely a big factor in the way we’re winning games. Down the middle is extremely important. [Brind’Amour] has preached that. In order to have possession of the puck, you have to win faceoffs, so we put a big emphasis on them and we’ve been doing a good job of winning them. Obviously, [Staal’s] a phenomenal centerman at taking draws. Whenever we can have him out there on draws, or whenever me or [Aho] or whoever is centering the fourth line can win draws, it plays a big role.
On the key to his success: Health. Being healthy for the first time in a while. Being 100% healthy definitely played a big role in that I think. Being comfortable on this team now too. Having that little offseason to regroup and know the system, know the guys, and be a little bit more comfortable has helped too.
On the long-road trip: We’ve been lucky enough to have periods of time where we’ve been able to go home on these road trips, which is nice to break it up, but it’s been awhile since we’ve played at home. It’ll be nice to get back.
On Jordan Staal: He’s underrated. He’s so steady. You notice when he isn’t there. We played that one game where he was on the protocol list and you really noticed how big of an impact he has on the game whenever you don’t have him in your lineup. He’s such a pivotal player. Plays in all different situations. 5-on-5, power play, penalty kill, 4-on-4. To have him out of your lineup definitely hurts. He’s a great faceoff guy, takes the majority of the draws in the defensive zone and obviously he’s been going in the offensive zone too this year, so he’s been all around phenomenal.
On playing against him: I didn’t like [playing against] many guys. I’m not a guy that makes too many friends out there, but I wasn’t too big a fan of playing against [Staal].
On his passion for music and his mixes: My dad was a musician and got me into music when I was at a young age and it just became something that I use in all facets of life. If I’m trying to get ready for a game, it’s something that plays a big role in that. During quarantine, I was bored so I figured I’d put something together and I’ve just been running with it.
On his music upbringing: My dad played alto saxophone and went to the University of Miami on a partial scholarship for it and partially on baseball. We had a baby grand piano in the house growing up so he taught me on that. I actually have the piano now at my house. That’s my favorite instrument to play. But he played pretty much everything. Piano, saxophone, clarinet. He was pretty talented.