The Hurricanes will being a pivotal stretch of four straight games against the Tampa Bay Lightning Saturday night, in what will amount to a de facto in-season playoff series.
Rod Brind’Amour spoke to the media this morning ahead of game one, here’s a full breakdown of everything he had to say:
On a starting goalie and potential lineup changes: We’re going with [Alex Nedeljkovic] today, and the lineup’s not been finalized. We’ve still got guys coming in from last night, so I’m not 100% sure if there will be changes in the lineup.
On the schedule change: It’s not ideal, but for the times, you expect the curve balls every day. So this is part of it. We understand it. Every team has to deal with some changes here and there. And there will be more to come. It’s just part of it. We were going to play tonight regardless, it’s just a different opponent to prepare for. It’s not that much of an adjustment.
On playing Tampa Bay four times in a row and learning more about his team: I think we have a good feel for where we’re at. This is a big challenge, obviously. Four in a row against the Stanley Cup Champs, so that’s probably the best. But you’ve got to play them. Will we know more after this? I’m not sure. I doubt it. I think I know where our strengths and our weaknesses are, and we’ve got to keep building on the strengths and keep shoring up the weaknesses.
On the line of Nino Niederreiter, Vincent Trocheck, Martin Necas: I think you obviously have a pretty good, skilled group there and a good mixture of speed and some strength on the wings. Obviously [Trocheck] has played really well this year. So I think that combination, all three of them are feeling pretty good about their game, and obviously it’s been huge for us.
On working with the training staff to keep players in the right shape and help them recover: It’s really the trick of the whole thing, because staying healthy and staying fresh mentally and physically to be able to go and play the way you’re supposed to play, especially the way we’re expected to play, it’s not easy. Rest is always a key, and now you don’t have that. So that’s where, every team’s dealing with it, and you have to manage it. So the dynamic is we’re in communication all the time on what’s best for the group. What’s interesting is you have guys that need the work, because we have a bunch of guys that are around, and then you have guys that don’t need it, so it’s a daily communication grind to figure it all out. But it’s just part of it.
On Brady Skjei playing with Jake Bean: I think whether he’s young or old, I think it’s always important to have chemistry with your partner, so finding a fit is always huge. I think Brady can play with anybody. He’s a quality player and person, so he’s willing to do whatever he has to do to help a Jake Bean along or whoever he’s playing with. So that’s important, but we do need to find some sort of chemistry with not just the D pair, but in general, the whole group. That’s what you want to have.
On if this is the best group he’s seen in terms of moving the puck in the offensive zone: Our forward group, through the whole lineup, you start thinking about all the groups we’ve had, it’s definitely the most talented forward group. You can see that in how we play and some of the plays that are made. It gets us in trouble sometimes, but I think overall it puts a lot of stress on the other team. So our forward group’s pretty dynamic. Obviously, I love it.