Following a shootout win over the Blackhawks Tuesday night where the team was not at its best, the Hurricanes opted to hit the ice for practice on Wednesday.
Following that practice, Rod Brind’Amour, Jordan Martinook and Martin Necas spoke to the media via Zoom. Here’s a full breakdown of everything they had to say:
On Petr Mrazek being out and his confidence in Alex Nedeljkovic: We kind of knew from the other day that it was going to be a long-term kind of injury. It’s a big blow, obviously, especially this year, with the reliance on needing both goalies. So it’s a big blow.
As far as our confidence in Ned, we’ve had him around for a while. I think I said it yesterday. We have tons of confidence in him. Obviously he doesn’t have a huge body of work in this league, but he’s certainly done it at the minor league level and he’s been around us for awhile. So he’s going to get his chance, and we’ll see how it works out.
On if he’s talked to Mrazek: We talked a little before he went in and even before he was deciding on what his options were. I haven’t talked to him today or anything, we just got back from practice. It’s one of those things where now he’s just got to heal up. Hopefully it goes well there, and we get him back when we get him back.
On practice today: We didn’t really go that long. We got a late start. But practicing today vs. not was definitely based on that I thought we just weren’t sharp yesterday. So it’s just trying to get back and just get the mental focus to doing it how we’ve got to do it. Hopefully that’s been accomplished.
On if it gives a team more confidence to win from ahead or behind: You want to play with the lead, because that means you’re doing it right. You’re playing your game. There will be games where it doesn’t work that way, obviously, but I think at the end of the day, both ways build confidence in your team. If you can play from behind, that goes a long way, because you’re going to have to do that at some point, and face adversity. Trusting your structure, trusting your system, that you can play with the lead and from behind. That’s really, I think when the top teams all do that. That’s what we’re striving to be.
On Mrazek’s conditioning while he heals his hand: We don’t even know what he’s going to be really allowed to do yet. Hopefully when he gets the green light to bet back on the ice, he won’t be so far behind because he’ll have done other things to maintain that conditioning and whatever. So it’s hard to say, because I’ve seen a lot of guys with hand injuries where they don’t want them anywhere doing anything in case they fall and do something to have a setback on that. Hopefully he’ll get the green light to kind of train and then at some point he’ll get back on the ice and work all the edges. The muscles that get used when you skate are so much different than just dry land training.
On practices this season: You kind of go day by day on it. Are you going to practice or not. It’s kind of a feel, and then you’re just judging the workload and managing that. So I almost view the practice as almost more in the video room, because you can do that every day, so that’s where we’re teaching, and a lot of times if we’re going to go on the ice, it’s just getting the touch ups and you’re not competing hard. There’s things you’re doing this year you wouldn’t do. You’re practicing way harder in a regular year, but now you have to manage the rest.
On the Hurricanes funding a girls’ youth hockey program: I think it’s great. We’re a sport that attracts everybody. We have a lot of young women and older women that love the game of hockey. I think it’s great that we’re including them like this. I see it at the youth level all the time, coaching one of them with my little guy. Justin Williams’ daughter plays on our team, and she’s phenomenal. I think it’s just great. Any way that you can include people to enjoy our sport, I think it’s fabulous.
On if the team prefers winning from ahead or behind: Just winning. I don’t think it matters how it happens, as long as you win. That’s all that matters. Honestly, it doesn’t matter how you get it done if you finish the game ahead of them, that’s all you really care about.
On the confidence of playing from ahead vs. behind: If you’re playing ahead, you’re definitely going to be confident. If you’re playing from behind, you’ve got to take chances, you can just dictate more when you’re ahead. Obviously we want to score first. You want to make them come from behind, because then they’ve got to take the chances. Then hopefully you can capitalize if they push a little hard.
On his conditioning last night: Conditioning was good, legs were good. I think just the speed, we hadn’t even had a team practice. I guess it was just kind of our little quarantine group that had been skating together, so just getting in that game mindset again, that took a little bit. I’m sure it’ll probably take a game or two just to get fully comfortable again and obviously, yeah, the time away wasn’t great, being by yourself wasn’t very fun. I might need a new phone, just because my phone was dying two or three times a day with face times, phone calls, texts, I was almost ready to throw my phone away, just because I was sick of hearing it ring, but it is what it is and I’m happy that’s behind us.
On Alex Nedeljkovic: I think everybody’s confident with Ned and whoever we really put in there. I think if we play the way that we need to play, then hopefully the goalies don’t get a ton of chances on them. Obviously the guys did a great job the last few games. We kind of got away from it against Chicago, but we weren’t giving up many shots, but I think even looking back to last year when Ned came in, Ned played really well for us.
If I’m really diving back into it, the Pittsburgh game, I think two games before we got shut down last year, Ned was unbelievable. I think we have a lot of confidence in him. And obviously [James Reimer], we’re confident in his ability. He’s made some incredible saves this year and just kept us in the games. So we’re confident with both guys. Obviously we want Petr back as quick as we can, but we want him to come back healthy and 100%.
On if the goal is to make the goalie the forgotten man: I think the less chances you give up, the better chance you have to win. So I don’t know if we want to be the forgotten man. We want him to stay invested and stay into it. But if we’re not giving up many chances, then we’re not putting in tough positions, so I think the key is just to play good defensively. I think the thing about us is if you look at our game and say ‘Oh, you guys played well defensively,’ the main focus would probably because we played in their end a lot. When we’re feeling it, when we’re playing our best, we’re in the O-Zone a lot, and then we’re not giving up much when it comes into our end.
On Martin Necas: I think his confidence, you can just see it. His skating ability has always been there, but I think just the confidence to use it and obviously he showed last year that he can be a game breaker. As you grow in this league and the more you play, especially when they’re the skilled players that thrive in that position, you can just see the confidence take over. That’s been Marty this year. It’s been fun to watch. Him, [Vincent Trocheck] and [Nino Niederreiter], they’ve got it cooking pretty good right now. So it’s nice to see him take that next step. It’s fun to watch him.
On if he’s talked to Petr Mrazek: I just talked to him yesterday after the game. He said he feels pretty good, so he’s thankful. He said he couldn’t even move [the thumb] for a little bit. I think it went pretty good. He told me he feels good.
On the team taking leads: It always feels better when you win a close game. At least for me, you’re in the game until the last minute. For coaches, I would say it’s a little better when we win by more goals. It doesn’t matter how, but if we play our game, just like against Dallas the second game, we always come back and we just keep the pressure on them. We’ve had a few close games. It’s important to win those.