The Hurricanes will look to make it back-to-back wins over the Columbus Blue Jackets Thursday night, and take six of eight possible points from the four-game series.
Rod Brind’Amour, Jaccob Slavin and Jordan Martinook spoke with the media following today’s morning skate, here’s a full breakdown of everything they had to say:
On who the starter in net will be and his reasoning for that: We’re going to go back with [Alec Nedeljkovic] tonight. With two days off, I think he’s fresh. We’ll probably get back on our rotation after that, but he’ll start.
On the top line of Sebastian Aho, Martin Necas and Nino Niederreiter: They’re talented. You stick talent together that’s willing to work, then you have a chance to have success. They’ve been working hard, and obviously we know they’re talented. It’s really no secret.
Brind’Amour on fans: You definitely notice it. That’s for sure. For having such a small amount of people in the building, it feels like there’s a lot more. I appreciate the fans that have come and their willingness to do a little extra knowing that they need to to create that energy. I wasn’t aware of how many we were going to get the next game, but the more the merrier. Hopefully we can keep building on that, because we’ve got an exciting team to watch, and if we can get the fans in there, I think that only helps us.
On having two days off: It’s not exciting to hear you say that it only happens two more times. Just keeping the rink at the rink, and when you’re away from the rink, making sure you’re recharging, you’re getting your mind off hockey for a bit, so when you are at the rink, you’re fully invested and you’re there to get better. Just taking it a day at a time with that. We had a good two days here in Columbus and it was good.
On Dougie Hamilton: It’s really impressive. Obviously he’s that caliber of player, so it doesn’t necessarily come as a surprise to us. He’s been playing good hockey. It helps the team. Obviously in that span, in the first eight games he started that point streak with, we won all those games, and we’ve been in every game since. It’s not a coincidence that those things are happening. Hopefully he can keep it going and continue to just keep helping the team.
On Alex Nedeljkovic: He’s been playing well. Obviously he’s a good goaltender, and obviously I think we all know he plays the puck extremely well and so that makes our job as defensemen a lot easier back there. It’s another man in the breakout, so that’s been really helpful. But then his confidence just continuing to build and getting more comfortable back there, I think it’s only going to continue to get better. So it’s really promising to see that, and obviously helping us as a team get some big wins.
On playing four games against the same opponent having a playoff-type feel: You could say that, to a point. They’ve been good, hard games. Our matchup against Columbus, there’s not a lot of room out there. So from that aspect, there’s definitely a playoff feel to it. But, I mean, again, this season’s just weird, and you do have to take it one game at a time regardless of if you’re playing the same team four times in a row. So it doesn’t have much of a different feel than the two-game series against teams, but we’ve played all these teams a number of times now this year and so it’s just that you get familiar with the other teams.
On Nedeljkovic’s puck handling and there being a learning curve for that: Maybe a little bit. There was a time where I toe picked at the pick line, and the puck hit me at the top of the circles. But as I looked up, I saw [Nedeljkovic] coming out of the net, so I wasn’t too worried about it. So it’s nice. It’s definitely nice. I wouldn’t say there’s too much of a learning curve, but like I said, it’s so helpful.
On his involvement and philanthropic effort with Fill the Stadium: It’s through Compassion International and the object to Fill The Stadium is to sponsor 70,000 kids and 70,000 is the number that fills the average NFL Stadium. So their goal, their hope in it is to sponsor these 70,000 kids and give them the basic necessities to survive in their countries and with where they’re at. Especially through COVID, it’s been extremely tough for them, so Compassion has done a great job of providing those resources ahead of time in hopes that we will be able to sponsor all 70,000 seats, and so it’s been really cool to see the people involved in it, to see the impact that’s been made. They’re over two thirds of the way there, and so continuing to just try and get the word out and just get these kids and these families their basic necessities.
On having two days off: It’s different on the road. Obviously at home you’re with your family and you get to spend time. I’m pretty sure our next two are at home. That’s definitely better than on the road. You’re not sitting around the hotel. Luckily we got out and were able to go to Top Golf and kind of get your eyes somewhere else than a hotel, a lounge and your room. It was nice to get out, and it was a beautiful day. Fresh air never hurts, so I think the next two at home, whenever you’re at home, especially guys with kids and stuff, you really appreciate the time.
On having more fans: When they announced that we were going to get 2900, everybody was thinking ‘I don’t know how loud it will be.’ But then when they get in there, it’s incredible how much energy they give you. Hockey’s not the same without fans. The energy and the flow that they can provide is that I can’t even really explain it. When they get going, you get going. It’s momentum and adrenaline all in one. Obviously we’re going to have some more people there. The more the merrier. Hopefully we can be a full building sooner than later.
On Alex Nedeljkovic: I don’t know if it’s changed all year. He’s calm, cool, he’s confident. He’s loose. When you see a goalie that’s just going with the flow and he’s not worried about too much, then you don’t get worried about too much. He’s been really good, and I’m happy for him that he’s gotten his chance and he’s done really well with it. He’s just another good person, good guy to add into our group that is full of them. You’re just happy for people like that, and I’m happy for Ned.
On if he’s tired of playing the same teams: If you asked this maybe a year or two years ago, people would probably say yes. But I think just with the circumstances of the year that we’ve had, even just thinking about looking back into October or November, thinking that we might not even play a season, and then now that we’re playing, I don’t care who you’re playing. We could play one team 56 times and you’re playing NHL games and being able to compete, it’s something you can’t take for granted. It’s different, but it’s the way it is, and I’m just happy that we’re playing.