Following a very successful March, the Carolina Hurricanes will head into the final month of the 2021 season looking to make a push for the top spot in the Central Division.
Rod Brind’Amour, Steven Lorentz and Jaccob Slavin spoke to the media after the team’s practice Wednesday, here’s a full breakdown of everything they had to say:
On Vincent Trocheck: I think he played a really good game, especially being out for as long as he has. I didn’t expect him to look like he hasn’t missed a beat. So the question is, am I going to use him differently? I don’t see myself using him any differently. Maybe I get him back with that power-play group and things like that, but he’s on the power play, he’s killing penalties. I don’t really know how much more I can use him. It’s nice to know that he feels 100%, and looked like he’s 100%, which is nice.
On Steven Lorentz: He’s looking more and more like an NHLer. He’s big, strong and skate. Now it’s just a matter of understanding the NHL game a little bit. I think he’s still got a ways to learn. But we like the kid, obviously. He fits what we’re all about, he comes to the rink every day and makes everybody around him better. It’s just a positive story there. I think even last night, the first period he got a couple good chances and I think he’s getting better every night. So that’s a real pleasant surprise right there.
On Dougie Hamilton: I think the first that comes to my mind is offensive capabilities. The guy scores a lot of goals and he creates a lot of offense. What’s really been eye-opening to me, is I think last year it really started, is the defensive side of his game. I think continuing this year is just our shutdown D and being able to go against the top lines night in and night out and see him excel on the defensive side of the game as well.
On Vincent Trocheck: It’s huge. He brings both sides of the game. Obviously we’ve seen his offensive abilities and the way he can put the puck in the back of the net. But the defensive side of his game as well, especially in the D-Zone, on the PK, winning those draws sets up for success. In the faceoff circle, he’s good. In the defensive zone, I’ve always, just skating with him during the summer time, knowing his stick work on the defensive side of the puck. The little things that go unnoticed by most people, but you definitely see it when you’re playing against him. Just having that on our side is awesome and everything he brings to the team.
On Jaime Faulkner, the Blackhawks’ president of business operations and his former billet Mom: It’s super cool. Obviously for women coming into the sport of hockey, it’s huge on that front. It’s really cool to see her there. As a billet Mom, she was awesome. She cooked some great meals, and gave me a loving home to be in while I was in Chicago. So from that standpoint it was awesome, but then from a work standpoint, she was always such a hard worker, diligent in what she did, a great leader of the company she worked for. She just did it the right way like Roddy always talks about. It was awesome. It’s really cool to see her in the position that she’s in now.
On what he’s learned: I’ve learned so much I don’t even know where to start. There’s a lot of little things that separate an AHL player from an NHL player. It’s little things like showing up to the rink and doing things consistently. Your body just might not be up for it, especially in a season like this, when it’s tough and you’re pretty much playing every other day, you really have to find that motivation and that drive to get up and do those little things right every single day. We’ve obviously done a good job of that so far. Like I said, it’s a bit of a weird year, so it’s different for everybody.
But I think our team’s doing a good job coming to the rink every day with a good mindset. You learn from guys like the veterans who you lean on for guidance sometimes. And they pull you aside and talk to you if they notice you struggling. So just little details about the game, playing in the D-Zone and the offensive zone. It’s just small, nitpicky things, but those are the things that add up, and if you want to be successful in the playoffs, it goes a long way, focusing on those little details. So we’re going to try to nip those in the bud now, what we can, and then hopefully we’re primed and ready to go come playoff time.
On how much the Canes’ veterans have helped him: Obviously guys like [Jordan Staal] and playing with [Cedric Paquette], a Stanley Cup Champion last year and [Jordan Martinook], those guys have obviously played a few hundred game’s in the league, and [Staal]’s coming up on a thousand. Every single little detail they do in practice, whether it’s stick positioning or when they’re heads up and they’re looking to make plays and stuff like that, I can lean on them for faceoffs and stuff too.
Playing with guys like [Martinook] and [Paquette], they know their job, we know our role. We know we’re out there to create energy and not get too fancy. So positional plays, whether I’m on the right side of a guy or if I get a stick position on another guy, they’re good at noticing that, and they’re really good at helping me out. They’ll pull me aside, they’ll even show me on video on the bench too. It makes it so easy when you have guys like that that really care about the well being of us young guys who have only played a handful of games in the league. It really helps you get comfortable and gives you confidence. That’s when you can really open up and be able to make plays and use the skill and abilities that got you here.
On Jordan Staal approaching 1,000 games and if he’s still just as excited for his 24th game: I am. Every day in this league is a blessing. I’m still so happy to be here and being able to learn from a guy who’s coming up on 1,000 games. He’s someone who I looked up to since I was a little guy and basically watching his first rookie season when they won the cup that year, I’ve been following him throughout his whole career. So it’s pretty cool to be able to just take a step back from hockey things and be like ‘Look at this guy I get to play with.’ There are other guys like that in the locker room too. At the end of the day, they’re all just human beings. They’re all just guys. So they’re really good at what they do. [Staal]’s such a great and respected leader in the locker room, so there are times that I just look over and I’m like ‘Man, it’s pretty cool that I get to play with a guy like that. I’ve only played a handful, and hopefully I can get up to 1,000 some day. That’ll be a dream come true, but one game at a time.