Dougie Hamilton, Vincent Trocheck, and Rod Brind’Amour spoke to the media via zoom ahead of Saturday night’s festivities.
On the team’s off-day golf outing on Friday: I didn’t go, but we got some time outside, for sure, at the beach and stuff. Definitely a good day and we’re ready to get back to playing today... It’s definitely hard on those off days not getting out, (it’s nice) to be able to be right there at the beach. Some guys went golfing, some guys went to the beach, some went walking and stuff like that. It was definitely nice to be able to do that and not be stuck inside. Hopefully, it works for us today.
On the kind of challenge that the Panthers present: A lot of skill, that’s for sure. We’ve seen how dynamic they are, lots of skilled forwards making plays. We’re going to have to play well defensively and limit those opportunities for them.
On anticipating getting Petr Mrazek back: He played great for us. We’ve had good goaltending all year, so I don’t think us d-men are worried about who’s in the net, so it’s always nice to not be worried about who’s behind you. Hopefully we can have him back as soon as he’s ready.
On how he feels about his game after a relatively slow start offensively: You can always be better, I think. Trying to find spots to get looks and stuff like that. It took some time, but I think I’m starting to get some more looks recently. Hit a couple of posts and cross-bars, so it’s definitely a different feel if some of those go in and you’re feeling better about yourself. I’d definitely like to be able to produce more offense and help the team that way.
On Trocheck’s impact on the Hurricanes: He’s been great for us so far. It’s been a lot of fun to have him as a teammate and how good he is on the ice. Great faceoffs, great shot, great playmaker, all-around good player. It’s been a lot of fun to have him here and he’s helped our team a lot.
On what it’s like to be back in Florida for the first time since the trade: It’s a little weird being back here on the other side, going into the visitor’s dressing room, I don’t think I’ve ever been over here before. It’s just another game. It’s another game against a really good team that we need to come out and play hard against.
On if the homecoming will be emotional and how he thinks he will react to the tribute: I think it’s a little bit different now with limited fans and I already got to play these guys once. So playing against my old friends is kind of behind me now. Obviously, still a little weird playing in this building, but I think the emotions will be a little bit more stable... Yeah, I’ll try to stay even-keel throughout that. Might get a little emotional, I don’t know.
On why the Canes were golfing barefoot yesterday: Guys weren’t planning for a golf trip, so no one brought golf shoes. So, instead of ruining their dress shoes, they went with bare-feet.
On if their losing streak to the Lightning was more about their opponent or not playing their game: It’s a little bit of both. They’re a good team, the defending champions, but at the same time, I think we didn’t play up to our standards in those three games. We definitely need to get back on track and rolling tonight. I think we’re ready to go. We’ve talked about it before - when we play our game, I think we have a chance against anyone. If we play our game, I think those games are a little bit closer.
On if he’s concerned about Hamilton’s relatively slow start offensively: We want him, obviously, to put up numbers, but it’s more important that he’s defensively sound. He’s going to score, I think he’s shooting like 1.8%. The shots are gonna go in, he’s had plenty of opportunities. We just have to make sure he's not trying to force it, because when you start forcing things, it’s not gonna work. He’s had his looks and he’ll get his goals. We just have to make sure he's not looking for the offense and giving up defensive responsibility.
On what is different about the Panthers this season: They got rolling. When you start winning, your confidence can come out in everything. They obviously have gotten some real good goaltending performances. They’re a high-octane team. They’ve needed to make some saves, and they’ve gotten that this year. Their transition game is probably the best in the league. When you’re feeling good and you know you’re gonna get some saves, it makes your whole game better. That’s what, I think, we’re seeing.
On what he liked from the team’s games against the Lightning and there will be any lineup changes: For the most part, I liked all the games. It was parts of the game, some periods, that weren’t great. The work ethic’s been really good all year. Our 5-on-5 game, I actually think, was pretty good last game. We didn’t give up too much, we just didn’t score - and that's gonna happen. I think the recipe is there, we just need to carry that over. As for changeups, there’s no changes to the lineup.
On if it was good for the players to have a good off-day yesterday: Yeah, they needed it. I think everybody needs it. It’s just nice that we were afforded that opportunity for an hour, hour-and-a-half to get outside and just to enjoy some downtime away from hotels and arenas. It was nice that they were able to do that.