When the Hurricanes return home to face the Red Wings Thursday night, it’ll be a special night for a number of reasons. It’ll be the Canes’ first time playing in front of at least some of their home crowd (15% capacity at PNC Arena) in over a year. Andrei Svechnikov will face his brother, Evgeny, for the first time in their careers.
And, of course, the Hurricanes are looking to extend their win streak to four games and put two points in the bank. Svechnikov, Jordan Martinook and Rod Brind’Amour spoke to the media Thursday morning, here’s a full breakdown of everything they had to say:
On players returning from injury: We’re still a game time decision, I think we’re hoping [Teuvo Tervainen] will play tonight. He went through the morning skate, I think we’ll kind of see how it goes tonight in warmup. I would hope that he might be the one guy that gets in. The other one you’re asking about would be [Jake Gardiner]. That was his first real skate today with us, so he’s not playing and then [Petr Mrazek] we’re still waiting on.
On playing in front of fans: I don’t know what to expect. I think in the other buildings where there’s been [fans], I don’t even know how many, but it feels pretty good. It definitely feels better than nobody in there. So I’m hoping that only that small amount is still providing a little more energy from the guys and makes the game a little more exciting.
On Andrei Svechnikov playing against his brother: I think it’s a great moment for him and his family. I don’t know how excited I am about it. I hope he plays the game the right way and doesn’t let up. Your friends and family after the game, I hope that’s his mental approach. I think it’s a special day whenever you have these kind of matchups, and maybe two or three years down the line, it won’t be that special. But that first one for sure is.
On Petr Mrazek returning and inserting him into the goalie lineup: It’s kind of up to him to let us know when he feels like he can play. He’s practicing pretty well. He has to be confident in his ability to do it or it’s a moot point. When he gives us the OK, then we have that decision done. To your second point, which is how do we handle it, I’ll be honest with you, I’m kicking down the curb until I have to figure it out.
On tonight’s starter: [Alex Nedeljkovic]’s going to play tonight.
On if he got any sleep last night getting ready to play his brother: I actually got some sleep. It was actually good sleep. But obviously I was too excited and couldn’t fall asleep for probably 30 minutes. But I feel asleep after, and I’m obviously super excited. It’s going to be fun.
On if he’s had a chance to talk to his parents: I didn’t talk to them yet this morning but I talked with them all day yesterday. I’m very proud of my parents, but they raised me and my brother. They’re super excited, they’re going to watch our game from home.
On playing in front of fans: It’s huge. When you don’t have any fans, you don’t have that energy. We try to get ourselves going, but obviously it’s going to be lots of fun even with 3,000. But it’s going to be so much fun, because you’re going to see them and hear them.
On if he asked Jordan Staal about playing against his brothers: I didn’t ask. But in the past couple years, he’s obviously excited to play his brothers. But I think he kind of gets used to it because they’ve already been in the league for so long. So it’s always excited, especially now when you play the first time, I think it’s a special day for us.
On if he’ll need to tone down his ‘Mistah Svechnikov’ so Evgeny doesn’t hear him: If he hears me from our dressing room, then I think our guys will be ready to go if I can do it that loud. I don’t think I need to tone it down.
On Andrei Svechnikov getting to play his brother: I’ve met Evgeny too, and they’re both great people. If I had a brother, that would probably rank up there on one of the coolest moments in their lives. I’m sure they’re both super excited about it. I’m guessing we’re going to have a pretty motivated Andrei, because I don’t think he’s going to want to lose to his big bro.
On playing in front of fans: I think obviously it’s not a full building like we love to play in front of, but any sort of atmosphere is something that you can build off of. It just sucks not having the fans involved. I think even this last road trip, Florida and Tampa had a decent amount of people there. Even on the road, it gives you a little bit more energy. Just to have that little bit of buzz in the building is just something that you can’t replicate or you can’t take for granted. I think this last year, seeing how we’ve had to handle this and not play in front of people, guys definitely miss them and appreciate so much what the fans bring to the game.
On the Hurricanes’ three-game winning streak: I think our starts have been a lot better, but our finishes haven’t been great. So I think getting out to the lead has been a key and I don’t know if it was fatigue or what it was, we just kind of let our foot off the gas a couple times and let teams back into it. I think moving forward, if the game’s going the way it’s going for us and we’re playing fine, we just need to stick with that recipe and don’t change anything. And then we should be able to close out games a little better instead of giving every guy on the bench and probably every person watching at home a little bit of a heart attack.
On what ways the fans will impact the game: I think the 2700 that are going to be here are probably going to try and make up for the 16,000 that aren’t. I fully expect every person in the building tonight to be screaming as loud as they can. Even just, I like the plays that get cheers, like a clear on a penalty kill, a blocked shot or big hit, those are the ones that you miss the fans for, and you get the goal horn and everybody cheering, but it’s those little plays that almost hurt a little bit that the fans pull you through it. I’m fully expecting the Caniacs to be screaming as loud as they can tonight.
On having to brush off sluggish third periods: I think we want to figure out what’s going on there, but especially when you’re playing every other day, you have to have a short memory of each game. I feel like your mind switches to the next team so quick, because I don’t even know many games we’ve played in the last week but it feels like we’ve played every day. So it’s definitely you have a short memory in that sense because you’re playing every day, and I think this week it’s a new team every day. So you try and brush it off, but you definitely want to fix what’s been kind of creeping in there.
On the fan cutouts and tailgating: I did see some cutouts. I’ve actually seen Evander Holyfield in the corner there, so that was a good one. For that second question, that’d probably be a better question for my Dad, because he lives for the tailgating. But that’s what makes hockey here so cool, just because I think my first year when you’re driving to the rink when we were in the playoffs there, the entire parking lot’s full, people are honking their horns and playing games. I just remember the energy it gave me driving in and seeing all those people. Even not in the playoffs, even games last year, when they’re out there, I feel like you can build off your 2.5 hours away from the game and you see them there getting ready, it definitely energizes you.
On talk of any postgame celebrations for a win: Watch the game.